Safety in the World

Street Safety

When driving, pay attention and always scan the entire area in front of you.

Look for kids playing near the street and slow down. Children are often unpredictable and unaware of danger around them. Look out for them just as someone once looked out for you.

Keep an eye out for crosswalks, especially when not found at an intersection.

Watch for kids on sidewalks, especially at intersections.

Always slow down when you see pedestrians. No reason for hurrying is ever worth a child's life.

Watch for people about to step off the curb.

No Yelling At School

Yelling is okay under the following conditions: a) You are under age 8, outside, and do not live in an apartment complex; b) You are being attacked by a bear; c) You have been stuck in freeway traffic for 5 hours and need to use the restroom. Yelling in the classroom is okay when: a) a bulldozer has knocked out one of your walls, b) the visiting school board member has passed out on the first row of children, or c) little Mikey in the second row is teaching Hari-Kari to little Charlie in the third row.

Is your child's teacher being verbally abusive? If your child is in grade three or below you can request a transfer to a different teacher and give the principal a written complaint about the abusive teacher. When enough written complaints are received the principal can take action, even if the teacher has tenure (rank based on years teaching). Hand-written is okay, typed is even better. If you fail to do this then other kids will suffer the same way your child did. Keep a daily log of your child's experience at school and show it to the principal. In grades four and above it may be a good idea to let your child remain in the class and teach the child how to deal with verbal abuse since they will experience it later in life either on the job, in the neighborhood, or when dealing with the public. Use your own judgement. If the verbal abuse is severe then report it to the principal and decide whether the problem can be corrected or whether to transfer your child. If it is annoying but not severe teach your child to ignore it and focus on his work and his friends. Tell him/her that the teacher has a problem but your child doesn't have to let it be his/her problem. If the principal is not cooperative you can take this problem, along with your journal, to the School Board, or place child in home schooling or private school for the rest of the year. This is a drastic step that will affect your child's social development so it is important to try and solve the problem first.

The author is sorry to say that she once witnessed a principal (who felt the world would end if there was not absolute silence) using a bullhorn in a lunch room to yell at, threaten, and intimidate little children for 15 minutes while they were trying to eat their lunches. It didn't work (duh). First, absolute silence is not a realistic or fair expectation for kids, (only for teachers who have just been told they are getting a reduction in pay) and second, the kids simply rebelled, knowing that the principal didn't have eyes in the back of her head and couldn't see 360 degrees, unlike them. Needless to say, their appetites were spoiled and they learned very little that afternoon, and probably forgot what they learned the day before. The author was very disappointed to see someone who was being paid upwards of $70,000 a year out of taxpayer money but who thought school was for testing Nazi theory.

Yelling doesn't work. Studies show that a child's brain actually stops functioning when they are being yelled at, and it cannot accept new information (meaning, it becomes like many adult brains). Learning stops. The definition of insanity is: doing the same thing repeatedly even after repeated failure (okay, so this describes every legislature in the country). Yelling is the closest thing there is to repeated failure. Why do we yell when it just makes everyone feel bad? Because it makes us feel good? Because someone yelled at us? Our volume control is stuck on loud? Bad reasons. A child will try every crayon in the box when coloring (unfortunately, sometimes on the walls). We, as adults, can learn from these little children. If something doesn't work, keep trying until you find something that does work! Use every crayon in the box! Use every trick in the hat until you find one that works, then keep that one handy.

Be realistic about what to expect from kids. Be tolerant. Growing up takes time (90 years for some people). A certain level of busy noise caused by contented kids completing an assignment is normal and healthy. Total silence in a class can be a warning sign for child advocates and child behavior specialists, who can tell the difference between a 'happy quiet' and a 'tense quiet' environment by the children's body language. It isn't healthy unless the kids are totally engrossed in reading or watching a sad movie. However, you do need them to be quiet when you are giving them instructions, but this can be done without noticeable hysteria or vocal abuse.

How to quiet a noisy class or group without yelling:

For more ideas see the book "Discipline:101 Alternatives to Nagging, Yelling, and Spanking" by Dr. Alvin Price and Jay A. Parry

School Safety

There are hundreds of teachers, coaches, and child mentors nation-wide who prey on children. Do you feel uncomfortable about your child's teachers? Does he/she dislike school? Have his/her grades dropped? Has he/she complained about improper touching or inappropriate comments? Has a teacher or coach been alone with your child? If you answer yes to these questions call your Local Police Department and file a report; then call your school counsellor or principal and request an appointment. State your concerns. If no action is taken take it to the School Board and the District Attorney.

Always drop kids off at the curb next to the school so they don't have to cross in front of other cars who may not see them. Never open doors into on-coming traffic unless you enjoy seeing them get knocked off.

Be courteous and considerate of other parents dropping off their kids. We need to be safety-conscious about all kids, not just our own.

See Jane run! See car stop! Keep an eye out for kids darting in front of your car (whose parents ignored the first rule).

See child! Stop! Keep an eye on other children who are walking. Remember that someone protected you when you were younger and we should keep all kids safe, not just our own.

Never let your child walk to or from school alone. If you work and are unable to escort them to school personally it is important to drop them off at a friend's or neighbor's house who will be responsible for making sure they arrive at school safely. You may need to pay someone to do this, or trade favors, such as taking their child to a movie, park, or zoo on the weekends with your child.

If your child is able to walk to school make sure he/she has a friend or friends to walk with and make sure the friends know how important it is to stay in a group.

Discuss safety with the parents of your child's friends to make them aware of your commitment to child safety and to gauge their commitment. Most communities in California have from one to a thousand registered sex offenders living in them, depending on the size of the community. On average there is one sex offender per 1,000 residents of a community. Most of them are potential repeat offenders. Discussing this with others can help you know if they are trustworthy or not.

If your child rides the bus make sure he/she is dropped off at a safe distance from home. Many bus companies drop children off a mile from their homes to save money. If this is happening in your community let your School Board know you won't tolerate it, and let your State Legislators know what is going on, by phone, mail, or email.

Safety in Other Places

Never let your child walk anywhere alone, whether to the store, to a friend's house, or to the park. Some predators see a child as they are driving by, stop and force them into their cars.

Never let your child play outside alone. Some predators cruise neighborhoods looking for unsupervised kids. Take turns with other mothers in your neighborhood so you have time for other things or enlist a trustworthy family member to help.

If your child rides bikes, roller blades, or skate boards, make sure they are always with two buddies. When the buddies go home your child must go home too. Have all three children come to your house and then escort the buddies home.

Report any strangers in the neighborhood to police.

Report any suspicious vehicles to police.

Never let your child use the restroom in public places alone, whether it be a theater, fast-food restaurant, park, beach, or other place. Predators watch for children who are unattended. Never let your child be alone in a crowd or at the beach. Stay within reach of your child so if someone grabs him/her you can fight back.