By Samuetta Hill Drew
In past years I have written” Back to School” safety series addressing bus riders, children who bike or walk to school, extracurricular activities safety protocols along with a host of different age-appropriate topics inclusive of college safety.
This year’s “Back to School “safety series will touch on some of those same topics, but with a slightly different approach based upon safety concerns in 2023 and beyond.
Over the years parents and/or guardians have developed new safety fears. These new safety fears have either erased some former safety concerns in the past or replaced and elevated them to a whole new level. Social media has been one of the major influences. Now parents must concern themselves with bullying – both in-person and cyber, school shootings, different COVID strand outbreaks and human/sex trafficking. I will address these new real fears for both parents and students.
This week’s article will start with the topic often least addressed by parents but is now the number one criminal enterprise domestically and worldwide, human and sex trafficking. It has now surpassed the illegal drug trade. A great deal of the information shared will come from The Guardian, a global newspaper.
One of the basic fundamentals for young children is to teach them basic family information. This information should include their parents’ actual names (not mommy or a nickname), their home address, and parents’ cell phone numbers by heart. This should be done periodically with some frequency. It has the potential of being turned into a family game.
Teach your child to be aware of their surroundings at all times. This will give them the upper hand in a dangerous situation. You can turn this into a game also. This can be done by asking your child for details about things you pass as you head to school, the grocery store or as you go for an afternoon walk or bike ride. Try to identify some key landmarks like a park, a fountain, a colorful house, a beautiful or even a bad yard, a store, etc.
Human and sex traffickers will use the internet to attract and lure children. This is one of the main ways they connect with young people. Take the time to learn what apps your child is using and how to best protect them with those platforms and on their own specific devices like their cell phones. Monitor their accounts and make sure boundaries are set in regard to their use of the internet.
We will address more on this topic next week. Yes, the world may be a bit more frightening from your time in school and may get even scarier as years pass; however, you do not have to feel unprepared to protect your child. You are indeed their biggest advocate and protector in all things so lean into that by Keeping an Eye on Safety for you and your child(ren).