You may remember walking to school when you were a child (up hill, both ways!) but today, not everyone feels safe letting their youngster make the trek on their own. Here are a few safety tips that will help ensure that your child gets to school safely.
Walking isn’t necessarily out of the question if the walk is short and your child is old enough. Typically, once a child is 9 or 10, he is old enough to be able to walk to school responsibly. To make that walk safer, walk with your child several times to be sure he knows the route. Point out traffic signs and lights, as well as potential hazards he should be aware of.
Teach your child to always use cross walks and only cross the street when the light is green (or if there is no traffic in the absence of a light). Look for areas with crossing guards and teach your child to always obey them.
Find out what other children live close to you that may also walk to school and create a “pool” of kids who will travel together. The old saying about safety in numbers is true, and someone is less likely to hurt a child in a group of other children. To make it even safer, parents may be able to take turns walking with the group.
If it will be dark while your child walks, make sure he has reflective clothing so it is easy to see him from a vehicle and give him a flashlight. Always have a plan for when your child will be home. If he will be late, make sure he knows to notify you beforehand. That way, if he is late, you know to look for him. An older child or teenager, you may feel safe giving them pepper spray for emergency protection. Make sure they know this is not a toy and teach them how to use it responsibly. Check local laws before carrying pepper spray. Another safety tool for any age is a safety whistle.