Friday, October 02, 2015

Guest Post: Back to School Safety Tips with Mario Cattabiani

This year Summer started Kindergarten at the public elementary school.  The special education process for her was overly hellish, so much so that we needed to hire an attorney just to get her the basic services she needed.  One service we insisted on was transportation provided by the special education bus to help keep her safe.  I remembered how one of my other children who was remarkably capable and intelligent ended up being abused on the regular school bus for nearly a year before we found out and through all of the district's fight against transportation for Summer it left a terror in my heart that she would face significant danger if left to ride the school bus with the other children.  For some reason, the district fought this service hard to the point that at 2:30pm on the first day of school I had to rush home to pick her up lest she be left to wander off the school campus or be sent to ride a school bus she wasn't equipped to ride.

Our children cannot protect themselves.  As much as we want to try they need our help and yet as parents we know we can't be with them every minute of every day.  It is often an agonizing situation especially for those of us with large families.  For that reason, I want to share this guest post with you on Back-to-School Safety Tips from Mario Cattabiani at Ross Feller Casey, LLP.  We can all use a good reminder and maybe you'll get a new bit or two to add to your family system.  

Back to School Safety Tips

Parents throughout history have been tasked with the monumental role of raising children, teaching them right from wrong, and doing their best to keep them safe and healthy. An unfortunate reality for today’s parents is that it is becoming increasingly more difficult to ensure the safety of their children. With predators lurking behind the computer screen, bullies in the school highways and individuals completing acts of violence on innocent bystanders, safety is not something that can be taken for granted.

One of the primary concerns for parents these days boils down to this simple question – “How can I keep my child safe, even when I am not around?”

Parents and guardians relinquish control when their children are off at school or hanging out with their friends. Fortunately, there are still ways for them to play an active role in keeping their children safe.

Talk About School

It is extremely important for parents to maintain an open line of communication with their children, and an easy way to get the ball rolling is to simply ask them about their day. Find out how their classes are going, and ask about the other kids that they encounter each day. There is a good chance that they won’t want to come right out and say they are being bullied, but that shouldn’t stop the conversation. Ask if there are any other kids being bullied or if there is anything at all going on that is making them feel uncomfortable.

Additionally, parents should be conscious of any changes in behavior or attitude. Warning signs may include loss of friends, a drop in grades or not wanting to go to school. While parents may not be able to prevent the bullying from happening, they can make an intentional effort to know what is going on. Knowledge is power, so parents can then teach their children how to deal with the bullies or remove them from the situation.

Keep Technology Out in the Open

The internet is the gateway for both information and trouble. With new software and apps being released constantly, it can be overwhelming for parents to stay up-to-date on what their children are doing. One way to help combat this divide is to keep computers, tablets and phones out in the open. Kids are less likely to get themselves into sticky situations during “homework time” when they know that their parents have full access to what they are doing online.

Kids should be educated about proper internet use. By educating them about the risk of talking to strangers online and how easy it is for information to spread, parents and guardians can help prevent a dangerous situation from occurring.

Make a Plan

It is easy to control the schedules and activities of young children, but things can get a little trickier once they are teenagers and driving on their own. Parents should sit down and make a plan with their kids so there aren’t any surprises throughout the day. Establish when they will be heading to school, who will be riding with them, when they will leave school and how they will get permission to do anything once the school day is over.

Obviously, just having a plan in place won’t prevent all accidents from happening. But when parents have a say in where there kids are going and who they are going there with, a greater emphasis is placed on safety.

As much as they would like to, parents cannot keep their children safe from everything. Fortunately, with proper communication and education, parents can stay on top of what is going on in the lives of their children and make their best effort to guide them from unsafe situations.

Mario Cattabiani is a father of two and the Director of Communications at Ross Feller Casey, LLP.

Letting Go of Mie Disclaimer: Though we hired an attorney to help us with Summer's ARD process neither I nor my family have any personal or business relationship with Ross Feller Casey, LLP or any of its employees. No legal service or compensation was provided as a result of this post.  Though I personally believe these tips are smart no reasonable effort will guarantee your child is safe at all times and this blog does not make any endorsements as such :)

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