Safety Checklist for Kids on Their Way to School

Last updated on June 5th, 2018 at 03:08 pm

We’ve been following the news about Sierra LaMar, a 15-year-old who disappeared near her home in Morgan Hill, CA sometime between a text message sent to a friend and nine minutes later when she didn’t show up to her school bus on March 16. Reports Thursday say that police no longer think she may have run away and believe that she was most likely kidnapped, potentially by someone she knows.

We don’t know what happened to Sierra but it’s hard not to fear the worst and to wish that she had known whatever it was she needed to know to stay safe: not to let someone she wasn’t expecting into her house, to be cautious even if it is someone you know, to keep out of reach of someone on the sidewalk, not to take a ride even from an acquaintance without checking first – and as soon as she knew she had trouble; to yell, run, make a scene, and to fight to protect herself.

Even after hundreds of people have searched for her – finding only her purse, backpack and cellphone – it’s still difficult to know yet what has happened. Our hearts go out to her family and friends who are all waiting to hear from her.

Today we are posting a one-page Kidpower Safety For Kids On Their Way To School Checklist download the pdf) that we’ve compiled for parents about how to prepare their kids to be ready to make safe choices and get help while on their way to and from school, or anywhere else that they are allowed to go on their own.

TALK together to make a Safety Plan so your kids will know:

  • They are safest staying in groups and, if they are younger, with an adult you select.
  • To always get permission from you or another adult in charge before they change their plan about going anywhere with anyone, whether it is a stranger or someone they know.
  • To always get your permission about where they go, who will be with them, and what they will be doing.
  • That a stranger is someone they do not know well, can look like anybody, and might know their name.
  • That most people are good and most strangers are good, but they do not know what someone is like just by how that person looks or acts.
  • To NOT get close to a stranger, talk to a stranger, take anything from a stranger, or go with a stranger – unless they have their adult’s permission.
  • If they are old enough to talk to a stranger, to stay out of reach and not give personal information.
  • To move away toward safety and get help if someone makes them feel uncomfortable or tries to approach them.
  • How to get help in an emergency from people you’ve designated along their route.
  • To tell a trusted adult every time someone makes them feel uncomfortable or scared.

WALK together to determine:

  • The safest route to follow on the way to and from school on foot, by bus, or by bike that will avoid isolated places, difficult streets to cross, and other hazards.
  • Where to go and who to ask for help if kids have a safety problem on route — preferably adults you have introduced them to — in a church, store, neighbor’s house, bus, etc.
  • What to do if kids get lost, if they cannot stay on their route, or if someone bothers them.
  • Each child’s safety readiness for going on her or his own without adult supervision.

PRACTICE together until you are SURE your kids are prepared to:

  • Use their awareness to notice and avoid safety problems from people, traffic, or other possible trouble.
  • Act aware, calm, and confident in every situation.
  • Move quickly out of reach from a stranger or anyone who makes them feel uncomfortable.
  • Follow their safety plan even if a friend tries to persuade them to do otherwise.
  • Find a place with people to help them if they get lost or have to change their route.
  • Yell “NO! I NEED HELP!” and run to a safe place to get help if they feel scared.
  • Yell, pull away, hit and kick to escape from an attack.
  • Be persistent in getting help, even if adults are busy or impatient.
  • Find and use a telephone so they can call a trusted adult for help or 911 in an emergency

About the Author

Irene van der Zande is the Founder and Executive Director of Kidpower Teenpower Fullpower International, a global nonprofit leader dedicated to child protection advocacy and teaching people of all ages and abilities life skills for safety and success. Families, schools, and organizations worldwide use Kidpower's effective and empowering curriculum to prepare children and teens, along with their adults, with skills and strategies to prevent and solve problems with people and to stay safe from most bullying, abuse, kidnapping and other violence. Irene is the author of many publications including The Kidpower Book for Caring Adults: Personal Safety, Self-Protection, Confidence, and Advocacy for Young People; cartoon-illustrated Safety Comics and Teaching Books; the Relationship Safety Handbook for Teens and Adults; and Solve Bullying With Kidpower. Since 1989, Kidpower has served nearly 5 million people through its workshops, partnerships, and educational resources. https://www.kidpower.org

Comments

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!