A major concern for parents is the safety of their children. Unfortunately, for most of the day your children are in the care of educators and other people, and this can make you feel that you aren’t in control of their safety as much as you would like to be. The media have also reported on many unsavoury happenings at schools in South Africa in the last few years, and parents are desperate to ensure that children are kept safe from assault, bullying, and abduction.
Give them a cellphone
If it is possible and within your family budget, buying a lower tier cellphone for your child to use in an emergency is a good way of making sure that he/she is able to contact you, or any means of help when necessary. If the school doesn’t allow cell phones, your child can keep the phone off, or on silent at the bottom of his/her school bag.
This is especially useful for children from the age of 9, who can read and can most likely navigate a cellphone. The phone doesn’t need to be state of the art! As long as it has a call and SMS function, it is sufficient. Having to take care of a cellphone will also teach your child to be responsible.
Having a way to contact your child also gives you peace of mind, particularly if you aren’t the one who takes them to and from school.
Set a clear routine together
Knowing your child’s routine and when school starts and ends is very important. For older children, if they are walking or using public transport to get to and from school, help them find a route together that avoids dangerous streets and intersections. Talk about how they should travel to and from school with other children, says AraLegal. Remind them to always pay attention to their surroundings: this means no headphones and no texting while walking or biking.
Be sure that you know at what time they usually arrive home and on which days they have extramural activities. This way, if they are late or haven’t contacted you after a certain time, you can take the necessary steps needed to locate them.
Review school policies
At the beginning of every school year, review the school’s handbook with your child, says Safe Wise. This guide usually answers most parents’ questions regarding the school’s dress code, the visitor’s policy, emergency drills and routes, and the school’s stance on bullying.
Is there a zero-tolerance policy for bullying?
What plans are in place if a natural disaster or emergency occurs?
How often are emergency drills conducted?
Are visitors allowed on school grounds or in the classrooms?