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Guest editorial: Keeping kids safe in school

6:27 PM, Aug. 21, 2013  |  Comments
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When children play on the school playground or participate in after-school sports, bumps and scrapes are bound to happen.

It's the larger safety issues, though, that concern parents when their children are out of sight. School administrators - from elementary through high school - work hard to ensure students are safe at school. However, it's often the time before or after school when children are at greater risk of harm.

The American Academy of Pediatrics offers tips for ensuring a safer school year when it comes to traveling to and from school, as well as it relates to bullying.

Getting to school, back home

? Walking: Because small children are impulsive and less cautious around traffic, parents should consider whether their child is ready to walk to school without supervision. With a young child or child walking to a new school, parents should walk with their child the first week or until they are sure their child knows the route and can do it safely.

? Riding a bike: Students should always wear a bicycle helmet and ride on the right, in the same direction as auto traffic. They should respect traffic lights and stop signs.

? Riding the school bus: Students should wait for the bus to stop before approaching it, and remain seated when the bus is moving. Students should check for traffic before crossing the street, and make sure they walk where they can see the bus driver.

? Driving: Parents should require their teen driver and all passengers to wear a seat belt. Teens should not eat, talk or text on their cellphone when driving. Distracted driving is the No. 1 killer of American teens, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Bullying

Bullying is a concern because it can be physical, verbal or social. It can happen in person, via the Internet, or through mobile devices. Recent statistics show bullying remains a problem among children and teens, with cyberbullying becoming more rampant in school.

? When your child is bullied: Teach your child when and how to ask for help. Alert school officials to the problems and work with them on solutions. Encourage your child to make friends with other children. Monitor your child's social media or texting interactions.

? When your child is the bully: Be sure your child knows bullying is never OK. Develop practical solutions with the school principal, teachers, counselors and parents of the children your child has bullied. Set firm and consistent limits on your child's aggressive behavior. Be a positive role model.

Bullying is not just a matter of "kids being kids." It is a serious problem and should be treated as such. Parents should talk to their children before school starts about how to stay safe.

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