My kids headed back to school last week and while I was thrilled to add a little more routine to our schedule, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have any worries about sending them back. The truth is…most parents worry about sending their kids off to school. Classes, friends, peer pressure, grades, and all sorts of things give parents a whole lot of things to
worry pray about.
Safety in school is a concern for parents. But what about on the way to school? Many parents send their children off to school on buses or other means of public transportation. What can parents do to help their kids stay safe when they are riding the bus? Let’s take a look at a few ideas to keep your child safer on the way to school.
Outerwear that Glows
As the days get shorter, the likelihood of your child standing at a bus stop while it’s still dark out increases. Dress your child in bright colored outerwear. Buy reflective tape and put it on your child’s coats, backpacks, or other items they carry. Wearing bright clothing with reflective tape helps drivers see your child. You can also buy outerwear, backpacks, and shoes with built-in reflective strips. If your child spends any time waiting for a bus, these items are a great idea. Also, make sure your kids know that drivers may not see them at the bus stop or side of the road even with the reflective tape and colorful clothes due to light shining in their eyes, distractions, etc. Remind them to stand where it’s safe, off the road and on the sidewalk, well away from the vehicles.
Bus Stop Awareness
Make sure the bus stop has proper lighting. If your child waits for the bus outside your home, you will want to provide a flashlight or lantern. Also be sure the area is free of harmful items such as broken glass or barbed wire or large sticks (which often are turned into swords for little boys and could result in an injury). The bus stop should be cleared of snow and ice during the winter. If your child uses public or school provided transportation and you feel the bus stop is unsuitable, call your transportation office to file a complaint. Instruct your children to tell you about any people who appear at the bus stop for no apparent reason. When you have any concerns, go with your child to the bus stop and see for yourself. Find out what you need to know.
Rules Without Seat Belts
For whatever reason, school buses and public transportation are not required to have seat belts. Talk to your children about remaining in their seats and sitting quietly. The same rules apply whether you have seat belts or not. Remain in your seat until the bus is fully stopped. Sit in your seat facing forward. Don’t change seats while the bus is moving. Your child should also know where the emergency exits are on a bus. Don’t assume your child knows the rules. Be sure to go over the basics and discuss anything your child needs to know to stay safe in their seat on the bus.
Bus Exiting Rules
You would think that exiting a school bus would be simple, but kids can get hurt if they don’t exit properly. Pushing and shoving can result in injuries. Teach your child to be patient and calm. If that means exiting the bus last to avoid the pushing and shoving matches, then that’s okay. Once off the bus, the driver will give the children the go ahead signal if they need to cross the road. Tell your child to pay attention to the driver or crossing guard and walk away from the bus when signaled to do so. There must be absolutely no standing around, walking around, or playing around the bus. These rules are simple, but when they are not followed, kids are hurt.
Awareness First is Safety First
Awareness is step one for safety in any situation and riding public transportation is certainly no exception. Teach your child to be watchful of traffic, people, weather, and strange or scary behavior. Make sure your child understands that they must not make assumptions. For instance, crosswalks are not a guaranteed safe place. There are unreliable drivers on the road at all times of the day. Teach your child that even if a signal says WALK, look both ways before they step into the crosswalk. Safety first rules apply at the bus stop and on the bus just as surely as they apply everywhere else in your child’s day.
Kids can be distracted as they go to and from school. They have friends to visit, classes to hurry to, homework to think about, and to add to their distraction levels, many kids have cell phones or other electronic devices that are vying for their attention. It’s up to you as a parent to remind your child that safety is a real issue to think about and talk over. Discuss the bus stop and the bus itself with your child. Make unannounced visits to your child’s bus stop. Introduce yourself to the bus driver. Get familiar with this part of your child’s day to ensure that your child is in the safest situation possible so everyone can relax and enjoy the return to school.