Parents can take steps to minimize these fears and help their children go back to school confidently and safely. Most importantly, parents should talk and listen to their children and follow school safety tips.
Talk and Listen to Your Children
Make time to sit down with your child and ask “How do you feel about going back to school?” Then listen to your child and talk about her or his concerns. Once the school year is underway, keep asking! Ask your child about his or her school day every day – and listen. Let your child know that she or he can talk to you about anything that's bothering them without getting in trouble. If you have concerns, talk to the teacher.
If you haven’t done so already, talk openly with your child in an age-appropriate manner about safe boundaries for their bodies. If you have, consider a “refresher” conversation. The resource “Protecting Children from Sexual Abuse” provides information on how to talk to children about this difficult topic.
Follow These School Safety Tips
Consider following these safety tips, found at Momtastic.com:
- Be sure your child knows his and your contact information. He should have his full name and address, your full name, and daytime phone number memorized.
- Avoid labeling your child’s clothing, backpack or jackets with his name where it is visible. You don’t want a stranger to be able to call out your child by name, so be sure his name isn’t visible anywhere on his clothing or school bag.
- Be familiar with how your child’s school handles emergencies. Be sure to educate yourself about the policies and procedures regarding school lock-downs and other emergencies. Let your child know who is listed on his emergency contact form.
- Be a presence. Get involved in your child’s school. Join the PTA or volunteer to be a room mother.
- If your child walks or rides the bus to school, talk specifically about safety rules and have a set check-in time for him to call you when he gets home from school.
- Pay attention. Pay attention to changes in your child’s eating habits, sleeping habits and personality. If you notice your child seems withdrawn or isn’t sleeping well, inquire as to why. A change in behavior may signal that something is wrong.
Finally, be aware of your child's use of the Internet at school. Ask the school about their Internet safety policies and rules. Find resources on Internet safety here.