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Transitioning Back to School - From the Calgary Police Service

It’s that time of year again: back-to-school time. This season is hectic and with all of the added stress, safety can be easily overlooked. As you start to transition your children back to their school routines, there are a couple of important discussions you should have with them. During this period of change, your kids will likely be faced with many new challenges, difficult situations, and potentially some new issues they have never experienced before.

Navigating new social issues

Over the next few months, your child’s group of friends could change significantly, and it’s possible they could start facing things like peer pressure and bullying. Through this change, it’s important to keep checking in with your children and having proactive conversations. If your kids see that you’re engaged and there to help them, they will be more likely to come to you if they need assistance.

There is always an age-appropriate way that you can start preparing your children for some of the changes they are about to experience. For younger children, start talking about what a healthy friendship is, how to have safe interactions with strangers, what to do if they feel uncomfortable in a situation and to always trust their gut. As your child gets older and you continue to have these conversations, encourage them to come to you with questions. The questions that your child asks you will be a good gauge to determine when is the right time to talk to them about more serious topics such as drugs, bullying, and other unhealthy influences.

No matter how old your child is, be sure to help them identify safe and trusted adults who they can turn to if they need help. It’s important that they know there are many different people in the community who they can approach, either in an emergency or if they need some guidance. Help your child choose people who they would be comfortable speaking with such as another family member, a friend, or possibly a teacher or a coach. The Calgary Police Service also has School Resource Officers that are assigned to most elementary, junior high, and high schools. These officers are there to work together with staff and students, and are trained to help you and your children deal with a variety of issues. School Resource Officers can be accessed through your child’s school.

Getting back to the basics of traffic safety

This is also a good time of year to remind your children of some basic traffic safety awareness. Whether they take the bus, walk or bike to school, or are dropped off, it’s important to remind your kids about how to stay safe on their journey. Teach your kids to always walk on sidewalks and only cross the road at marked crosswalks. If a crossing has traffic controls, make sure that your kids understand how to use them and why it’s still important to always stop, look, and listen for traffic.

When crossing a road, children should always:

  • Get off and walk their bicycle across the road.

  • Stop before entering the roadway.

  • Increase their visibility to motorists and make eye contact with drivers.

  • When traffic has stopped and it is safe to cross, they should walk, not run, across the road.

If your children are walking or biking to school on their own, make sure that you set a pre-determined route with them and that they always tell you in advance if they will be taking a different way. If possible, have them travel with a buddy and develop a routine so they let you know when they have arrived safely at their destination.

Here’s to a safe and stress-free back-to-school season!

Roger Chaffin is the Chief of Police for the Calgary Police Service. 

Calgary’s Child Magazine © 2017 Calgary’s Child