School Security: Houston Safe School Program

  
by Rania Mankarious
     Executive Director
     Crime Stoppers of Houston 


Editor's Note: Crime Stoppers of Houston is launching a new Safe School Program for elementary schools. The curriculum focuses on educating young children - from preschool to fifth grade - on citizenship, respect and safety. 

 

     As Houston parents prepare their kids for the new school year, my mind travels to the safety side of it all. Are your children safe at school? Do parents need to worry and if so, what should they be concerned about? What conversations should we be having with our children and at what age? What are some good safety tips all parents should know?

    Many parents feel relief knowing their children are going from days of a relaxed schedule to days filled with structure, academics, extra curricular activities, and planned socializing. August marks the period when parents can put down their many summer hats: event planner, mediator, travel agent, emergency room doctor, to name a few. 

     I am excited the kids will go back to an institution we love, be surrounded by friends and teachers we adore and learn about art, math, reading, science and world events. In the excitement to get them back to school, please don't forget about safety. While we never plan to be victims of crime, we must take steps towards prevention.
     I hope you find the answers and tips below helpful.

  

CRIME STOPPERS OF HOUSTON CHILD SAFETY TIPS 

1 - Talk to your children about safety. Depending on your child's age, practice safety scenarios to teach your child how to handle emergencies.

2 – Review your school's emergency procedures and familiarize your child with those policies.

3 – Be sure that your children know their home address, your contact phone numbers and the number of another trusted adult.

4 – Teach your children when, where and how to call 9-1-1.

5 – If your children walk to school or the bus stop, make sure to plan the safest route for them. Ensure that they understand safety signs, and always walk or ride bikes with a friend or trusted adult. Never take a shortcut that is unknown or secluded. Never accept a ride from someone you have not authorized travel with.

6 – Teach children to say NO when approached by an unknown adult, and that unknown adults have no reason to offer children a ride, or ask for directions. Never stop to answer questions coming from a stranger in a car or on the street.

7 – Create an open environment for dialogue with your children. Remind kids that they can talk to you about situations that make them feel uncomfortable.

8 – If your children come home to an empty house, ensure that they are comfortable when handling an emergency, and mature enough to be trusted alone.

 

OTHER SCHOOL SAFETY CONCERNS

 

Are your children safe at school?

     While the last school year brings thoughts of Newtown, Connecticut and other school tragedies, studies show that children are in fact safe at school.

     If there is an area of concern, it may be possible injuries at the playground or sports activities. According to the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention, each year in the United States, emergency departments treat more than 200,000 children ages 14 and younger for playground-related injuries. Also annually, emergency rooms treat an estimated 173,285 sport and recreation related traumatic brain injuries, including concussions, among children and adolescents, from birth to 19 years. 

 

Do parents need to worry and if so, what should they be concerned about?

    While this will depend a great deal on where you live and the school your child is attending, the issues of concern vary. Are kids doing drugs on campus? Is there gang activity, prescription pill addictions, drinking? There are certain things that children do, generation after generation, perceived as a rite of passage, if you will. Those things change in seriousness with the times. Know what trends your community is facing and talk to you children about them.

 

What conversations should we be having with our children and at what age?
    This, too, will depend on the type of family you have and the dynamics that define it. Regardless of race, religion or creed – parents are always advised to talk openly and honestly with their children (in an age appropriate manner) making sure children understand what is acceptable. Talk about the activities you understand to be happening at schools. Ask questions. See what online trends are and discuss the newest gadgets. Discuss consequences. Be realistic and honest.

 

Say something if you see something.

    In this day of on-line social media living, children read more, see more and learn more about each other than ever before. If a threat is being made or bullying is happening, say something to a trusted adult. You don't have to be the victim or a potential victim to stand up for others. Children can also call Crime Stoppers 713-222-TIPS at anytime to leave information. Callers are always anonymous. We have seen it many times – one tip can and does save the life of another student. 

   In conclusion, let's remember that our children are our greatest accomplishments, and at the end of the day, their health and safety is all we really need to be happy. Pack their backpacks with all the goodies they need to learn and be their best and pack their minds with tips that will keep them safe and thriving!

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