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Safety tips for children who are in school

Safety tips for children who are in school

  1. Parents/caregivers, always teach your children your full name and contact number, as well as your address. Younger children new to the routine of getting to and from school are at greater risk of getting lost. Children with special needs should have these details on them at all times.
  2. Ensure that the school has your contact details – we are frequently faced with the challenge of trying to help a child in need and the school does not have parents/caregivers’ contact details.
  3. Make sure you know what resources are available for various situations, such as missing children, abuse, kidnapping, etc. Call Childline 116 for assistance if you are not sure what to do in a particular situation.
  4. The best option is for children to walk/travel in a group rather than on their own. Make contact with other parents from your child’s school, and arrange for your children to travel together. Your child’s safety is your responsibility as a parent/caregiver – you need to do everything in your power to ensure that their journey to and from school is as safe as possible.
  5. Make a routine/rule that your child checks in with you when they arrive at school in the morning, and when they get home in the afternoon (a WhatsApp or SMS at least)
  6. Speak to your child daily about how their day went, who they spent time with, what went well, what was difficult or horrible. Your relationship and the quality of communication between you and your child are the most important protective factor for a child.
  7. Make sure you know what extramural activities your child is doing and when they take place. Make safe alternative arrangements for them to get home after extramurals – they often end late, and your child is more vulnerable then.
  8. Start teaching your children about safety as early as possible – don’t leave it until they are just about to start school, and don’t leave it up to their teachers.
  9. Personal safety: as hard as it is, children need to know about abuse – what it is, that anyone could be an abuser, that they must tell if someone does/tries to abuse them in any way, that bullying is abuse and they must tell you if it is happening, etc.  Be aware that children are most often abused by someone they know, and assure them that if they ever tell you that they are being abused, NO MATTER WHO IT IS, you will believe them and act to protect them.  For more information on abuse click here:  Abuse-Adults  or  Abuse-Children.
  10. Bullying is extremely common, both in school, and on the way to/from school. Learn about bullying yourself (the types, the signs, what to do, etc), and teach your children about it. If your child reports any instance of bullying, act on it. Don’t ignore it or tell your child it’s normal or harmless. Bullying has very serious negative consequences.  For more information on bullying click here: Bullying-Adults   or   Bullying-Children
  11. If your child is travelling by taxi/school transport, ensure you have the driver’s details, and the details of their taxi association in case there are any problems with the driver’s behaviour
  12. Teach your children about road and traffic safety (walk on the pavement, not in the road; cross the road at the traffic lights/stop street/zebra crossing; look left, look right, look left again, etc).
  13. Speak to your children about safe people to approach if they are in danger. Help them to identify safe adults in their school, other adults they feel safe with, and teach them about Childline, especially the toll-free number 116. Your children need to be able to reach out, and have options should they not be able to get hold of you.
  14. Never to get into a stranger’s car, or accept gifts/sweets/money. Poverty and inequality, along with a society that values material possessions, make children extremely vulnerable to abuse and exploitation using money or valuable items.
  15. Even though older children are not keen on this, encourage them NOT to let their phone/devices be visible – children are frequently victims of crime (theft, etc)
  16. Teach your children to trust their instincts – if they get a “funny feeling” about a situation or a person, teach them that it’s okay to get out of that situation, and to tell you if they get a bad feeling about someone – EVEN IF IT IS A RELATIVE. This will help them in situations when they are not with you, like when they are at school, or travelling to/from school.
  17. Teach your children to use their common sense, and to stick to their values. The best way to teach your children good values is to model them. This will help them to manage situations of negative peer pressure and other unsafe situations in and out of school.
  18. And again, work on having a strong, communicative relationship with your children, where they know they can speak to you about anything, and can come to you for help and you will indeed help. This is not a once-off statement to your child, but rather a life-long pattern of interaction.
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