Backpacks loaded with school supplies? Check. New clothes and shoes purchased? Check.
Paperwork and registration completed? Check. But what about school safety?
While parents everywhere are making sure all the necessities of the school year are in place for their students, it’s always a good idea to refresh your kids and yourself on some basics of school safety.
Officer Tom Daubs of the Marion Police Department sat down with me recently to discuss this important topic. Since 2012, Officer Tom has served as the school resource officer for schools in the Linn-Mar School District, a role encompassing nearly 8,000 students in 12 different school buildings.
Here are Officer Tom’s four tips for a great school year:
Tip 1: Don’t give away all your personal info.
Parents love the adorable first day of school photos – the ones usually taken on the front porch, with a fresh-faced student holding up a sign with their school name, their grade, their teacher’s name, and more. There’s no denying that these photos are sweet for the scrapbook or family photo album, but Officer Tom advises to think twice before posting them to social media. You’re offering up a lot of information about your student (and your home); someone with less-than-wholesome motives could use that information against you.
“Most people know not to post vacation photos while they’re away on vacation,” Officer Tom says. “And these first day of school photos are in a similar vein. Keep things as anonymous as possible. We wish we didn’t have to do that, but unfortunately, there are predators out there.”
For back-to-school photos, Officer Tom suggests keeping details to a minimum, and choosing a photo location that doesn’t indicate your house numbers or your school name for best safety.
Tip 2: Crosswalk safety is not just for kids.
Teaching kids how to safely use a crosswalk is an important skill, but adults need to be just as vigilant at these crossing points, too. Officer Tom notes that many times he has seen pedestrian students doing the right thing – pressing the button, waiting for the flashing lights, and only then stepping into the roadway to cross.
“More often than not, it’s the adult drivers who are distracted or going too fast through the crossing zone, leading to close calls – or worse,” Officer Tom says.
In addition to crosswalk safety, it’s important for drivers to stop when a school bus stop arm is extended – never go around it. Citations for these violations start at $200 and up, and in some cases, can lead to the loss of your driver’s license.
Riding a bike? Wear a helmet!
No doubt about it: cruising to school on your own two wheels is fun – and safest when wearing a properly fitting bike helmet.
“Remember: if you crash your bike, you can always buy another bike or another helmet, but you only get one noggin,” Officer Tom quips.
Data shows that of American children who suffer head and neck injuries in bike crashes each year, 88% of them are not wearing helmets at the time of the crash. Proper fit is key, and wearing the helmet each time kids set out on a ride – to school or anywhere else – is the safest option.
R.E.S.P.E.C.T. is an acronym Officer Tom uses regularly with kids in the classroom. It stands for Respect Every Person, Especially Classroom Teachers. “When you start with kindness and respect, so many other potential problems fade away,” Officer Tom says.
Whether between students in the classroom or in society in general, Officer Tom has sound advice: “Each of us should be doing things to lift each other up, not tear each other down.”
Our many thanks to Officer Tom and to all of our school resource officers for helping to keep our schools and students safe!
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