It’s that time of the year. The change is imperceptible to everyone, but to you as a parent it’s consuming. You look over to the most precious thing in the world, your child: innocent, naive, and vulnerable. Thinking about your child growing older and becoming more independent sends your heart flying out of your chest. But you’re not alone, with these Top 5 Back To School Child Health and Safety Tips you can venture into the unknown confidently knowing you have done everything possible to protect your child.
Look over at your children, sitting at their desks on the computer. The generation gap is pronounced by your complete confusion with the contraption that they seem to be mesmerized with all day long. You dare not ask them any questions, thinking about the dull, trite responses you get every time you ask them how their days went and all you get is a “fine” and maybe, if your lucky, a “good.” Their lack of willingness to share their lives with you is almost more painful than nothing at all. You dare not seek the same, painstaking, indifferent response by asking them what they’re doing on the computer. You already know the answer… “nothing.”
Snap out of it. The sea of danger that lies behind “nothing” can be infused with dangerous and careless decisions that will haunt them for the rest of their lives. That’s why our security experts at BrickHouse Security have compiled this list of the best ways to keep your kids safe as they grow older and become more independent.
1) Be careful what pictures you’re posting. Although they may not be job searching or a professional now, these pics will become part of their digital footprint forever. This includes Facebook, Myspace, Twitter and especially in e-mail.
2) Do NOT post any explicit or inappropriate messages on blogs, livejournals, Facebook, or other forums. All of these can be retrieved at any point in your child’s life. Something that they wrote when they were 11 years old can be uncovered when they are 50 running for office.
3) Do NOT click on any spam items. These can lead to harmful websites that can expose your children to inappropriate material and can also ruin your computer.
If your once vibrant, youthful, child has now become reclusive and withdrawn, something may be wrong. At times like these, resort back to a very simple and commonly overlooked solution: talk to them. Ask them what is wrong. Let them know that it is okay to approach you about anything and everything. If the cause of the sudden gloom is bullying, talk to the teacher, give your children pointers on how to act that were suggested by an article in the American Academy of Pediatrics Journal:
1) Look the bully in the eye, stand tall and stay calm in a difficult situation, and walk away
2) Say, “I don’t like what you are doing”; “Please do NOT talk to me like that” ; “Why would you say that?
3) Encourage your child to make friends with other children.
If you hear that your child is bullying make sure to:
1) Be sure your child knows that bullying is never OK.
2) Set firm and consistent limits on your child’s aggressive behavior.
3) Be a positive role mode. Show children they can get what they want without teasing, threatening or hurting someone.
Texting – Do You Know Who Your Child Is Chatting With?
A new phenomenon can be seen walking on the streets, sitting in classroom, at restaurants, theaters, even in bathrooms. This new wave truly has no boundaries and is able to seep into the most remote and unsuspecting corners of your life: Texting. In the past, parents were able to intercept phone calls made to the house and find out exactly who their child was speaking with. Cell phones eliminate the need for a 3rd party, completely removing parent control. With this inundation of “texting” also comes the dangers, in particular, “sexting.”
Sexting is sending any explicit messages or pictures via text messages. While you are sitting at your computer thinking to yourself “my child would never,” contemplate the following statistic: 1 in 5 children between the ages of 13 and 18 have participated in “sexting.” 1 in 5. At least 11% of those cases involved the child “sexting” complete strangers. Before giving your child a cell phone make sure that they know that you pay for their cellphone, so they will use it in a way that you consider appropriate. But most importantly, that they should demonstrate self-respect and engaging in this behavior is not respectful of themselves. Even if they think they can trust whoever they are sending the pictures to, a myriad of uncontrollable events can lead to a very harsh reality.
Traveling to and from School
Traveling alone everyday can be a daunting task to a child. Make the experience a little less dangerous by following the tips given by the American Academy for Pediatrics:
Walking to School
Consider a GPS Tracker that lets you monitor your child en route to and from school. Many of these devices feature maps you can view on your Internet enabled cell phone as well as instant text message or e-mail alerts if your child goes outside a specific area. Also great for a teen driver, you can be in the know even if you’re not there with your child.
Riding on the School Bus
1) If your child’s school bus has lap/shoulder seat belts, make sure your child uses one at all times when in the bus. If your child’s school bus does not have lap/shoulder belts, encourage the school to buy or lease buses with lap/shoulder belts.
2) Wait for the bus to stop before approaching it from the curb.
3) Do not move around on the bus.
4) Check to see that no other traffic is coming before crossing.
5) Make sure to always remain in clear view of the bus driver.
6) Children should always board and exit the bus at locations that provide safe access to the bus or to the school building.
The Danger of Sexual Predators
The naivete of your children might be their most endearing quality, but beware- it can also be their most dangerous one too. Predators look for trusting, innocent, young victims to prey on. There is a new iPhone application that lets you view local sex offenders who are living in your area. Another solution involves going back to the basics. The advice might be a classic cliche but it is one that can never be heard enough: Don’t talk to strangers. If they follow those 4 simple words, they will be impermeable to sexual predators in both the real and virtual worlds.