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Monday, August 27, 2012

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Back to School Street Safety Tips for Kids

Street safety training is the most important component of any child's personal safety education. We discuss this topic regularly in our martial arts classes in Burbank, along with self-defense training for the children. Although Burbank is a relatively safe suburban neighborhood, dozens of registered sex offenders live within a few miles of each of our area elementary schools including Roosevelt Elementary, Stevenson Elementary, Jefferson Elementary, and Toluca Lake Elementary. Therefore, you can never be too safe.

By practicing good street safety, most kids can avoid ever being targeted by a kidnapper or assailant. In honor of the "Back to School" season, here's 3 of our favorite street safety tips for children!

Rule 1: Tell Adults Where You’re Going –

Children who walk to or from school alone should always take the same route their parents have shown them, even if they are running late or notice that other students are taking a shortcut. If your child veers off the usual path and becomes lost, injured or threatened, they may know how to tell you or the police where to find them, nor will you know where to look because you will assume they took the same route as always.

Even children who don’t walk by themselves should know this rule. For example, if your young child asks to be excused during class and goes to get water, then decides to stop by the restroom, his or her teachers will not know where to look in case of emergency.

Rule 2:  Be Aware of Your Surroundings –

Children, like adults, have a tendency to assume they are safe in familiar settings such as school. Tell your children to constantly be on the lookout for anything or anyone strange or out of place, such as an unknown adult lingering at the entrance of a public restroom.

Rule 3: Safety First, Politeness Second –

We send a lot of mixed messages to our children. For example, we tell them not to talk to strangers, yet we also encourage them to be talkative with strangers such as store employees. If the friendly barista at Starbucks asks your child “What school do you go to?” we nudge our children and admonish them if they fail to answer, saying, “Be polite and answer the question.” (Does this scenario sound familiar?)

It’s important that we explain to our children that when they’re away from us at school, at extracurricular activities, or with friends, that they should worry about their safety first and about politeness second. They should never answer questions such as “What school do you go to?” or “Does your mom stay home during the day or does she work?” that could be used to plan a robbery, kidnapping or worse. Of course, they should be taught to refuse to answer politely by saying "I'm sorry, I'm not supposed to tell strangers that" in order to ease their anxiety. They should also be taught that any adult who tries to convince them to answer is probably not a good stranger.

Remember, the purpose of safety training is never to scare children - it is to make them aware so both of you can have greater peace of mind when they're away from you!