With a new school year fast approaching, there's no better time to make sure your child will be able to get to school safely, return home and stay safe while awaiting your return from work. All school-aged children, even preschool-aged children, must be taught rules that will help keep them safe. If parents communicate these rules in a calm manner, the child won't be frightened and may be more likely to remember and follow them.
Going to and from school:
Home alone rules:
- Children should walk to and from school in groups and never take shortcuts. Always stick to routes selected by parents, and stay on main roads.
- Children should never accept a ride without first getting permission from parents. If your child takes the school bus or public transportation, make sure you both know the designated drop-off and pick-up locations. Younger children should be supervised by an adult while waiting for transportation. Older children should use the buddy system.
- Children who ride bikes to school need to wear helmets and take bike locks with them. It is a good idea to use the buddy system while bike riding as well.
- Parents or caregivers should inform the school of the child's transportation plans and arrival schedule. If your child doesn't arrive by a designated time each day, instruct the school to call you.
- Parents or caregivers should alert the school if your child's transportation plans have changed or if your child is going to be absent or late or if another person is picking your child up after school. Some schools require written permission and a photo ID from the person picking up the child.
- Children should be given money or a calling card to make telephone calls. Teach your children that 911 is a FREE call, even from a pay phone.
- Children should never leave school with anyone without checking with school officials. Even if the child is told it is "an emergency," he or she needs to understand that all emergencies must go through school officials first and a school official will contact the child.
- When walking or biking home from school, the same rules of the road apply. Always travel with a group and stay on well-traveled roads. If after school activities keep your child later than normal, be sure you know in advance where your child is, what he or she is doing and when the activity is scheduled to be over and when your child will be home.
- Show your child "safe havens" along walking routes (police stations, fire stations, retail shops), which represent the "right" strangers from which to seek help in immediate danger.
This document is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to provide any reader with specific authority, advice or recommendations. This information is provided to you in conjunction with our EAP vendor, Magellan Behavioral Health.
- Never advertise that your child is a "latch key kid," by having him or her wear a house key around his or her neck or underneath clothing.
- Tell your child to never tell anyone over the phone that he or she is home alone, but rather have your child say, “Mom and dad can’t come to the phone right now. Can I take a message?”
- It is best to have the child not answer the door when he or she is home alone, unless he or she is absolutely sure who is on the other side of the door. Teach your child to never tell anyone at the door that he or she is home alone.
- Have an emergency plan in place in case an emergency arises while your child is home alone. Tell your child to call you at work or call 911. In case of fire, tell your child to get out of the house immediately and go to the neighbors or wait outside for help to arrive.
- Teach your child that if he or she is approached by a stranger ¾ even if the stranger has a compelling story, such as looking for a lost puppy ¾ to RUN, SCREAM and immediately tell parents, caregivers or another trusted adult.