Most children spend their morning and afternoon hours walking to and from school or waiting for a bus unsupervised. It is important that parents provide their child with safety skills and information that can help them make smart decisions as well as keep them safe from dangerous situations. Krav Maga Worldwide, an industry leader in self-defense and safety, has put together tips for keeping kids safe in the hours before and after school.
- Communicate expectations and make a plan. Set up a schedule with your child so that they know where they are supposed to be and at what time. If they are walking to and from the bus alone, do a few tests runs to make sure they feel comfortable taking the walk by themselves. If you know neighbors along the route touch base with them and ask if they can keep an eye out for your child. Inform your child that they are trusted adults that they can go to if an uncomfortable situation arises.
- Emergency planning. If your child will be left alone before or after school, create and practice an emergency plan with them so they are aware of what to do in case of a fire, injury or if someone tries to break in.Leave written instructions and important phone numbers on the fridge or counter if you need to, but continuously practicing safety skills with your child can help them become second nature.
- Bullies and stranger danger. According to StopBullying.gov, 49% of children in grades 4-12 reported being bullied by other students at school, especially on the bus and before and after school. Teach kids to be the bigger person, walk away and tell a trusted adult about the situation. Make sure you have open communication and ask the child how their day went to make sure that they feel comfortable confiding in you if there was a situation. These safety skills can also come in handy if your child encounters a stranger that is overly friendly and making them uncomfortable.
- Keep kids busy. Tap into what your child’s interests are and sign them up for classes or programs that involve something that they love to do, such as art classes or sports programs. Even if your child does not attend a class every day, it will still be a good break from spending the time by themselves and prevent them from getting into trouble. Check with your child’s school to see if they offer a before and after school program and local rec centers are also another good option to look into since they offer a wide variety of activities that your child can choose from.
- Provide hands-on training. Sign your child up for intro self-defense classes specifically for kids and dealing with situations that can arise for their age group. These classes often teach children body language and verbal skills that can help deter bullies or attackers as well physical skills. Unfortunately, there is a very real possibility that a child may be in a situation that they can’t defuse or walk away from. Having a foundation of physical skills is vital for the child to be able to protect themselves when push literally comes to shove.