Back to School Safety: Equipping Children with Body Safety Skills
I know… I know… you don’t want to think about school starting again. But it is around the corner, and that feeling is here! The excitement, the worry, the wonder! As the back-to-school season approaches, parents and caregivers have an essential role in ensuring their children's safety both inside and outside the classroom.
While we often focus on physical safety, it's equally crucial to empower children with body safety skills to protect them from potential dangers and teach them to speak up about uncomfortable situations. My new book, Body Safety for Young Children: Empowering Caring Adults, is all about these topics. I hope you pick up a copy for your teacher and for you!
**Back-to-School Safety Tips**
1. Open Communication: Establish an open and non-judgmental line of communication with your child. Encourage them to share their thoughts, feelings, and concerns, especially regarding any incidents that make them uncomfortable. Make sure they understand that you are there to support and protect them. Talking about body safety skills doesn't have to be scary or icky.
2. Teach Consent: Teach your child about the concept of consent from an early age. Emphasize that they have the right to say "no" to any physical contact or actions that make them uncomfortable, even if it's from a family member or a friend. Respect their boundaries, and they will also learn to respect others' boundaries. Take one of Rosalia Rivera’s classes at Consent Parenting.
3. Identify Safe Adults: Help your child identify trusted adults both at school and in other environments they frequent, like after-school activities or daycare. Ensure they know whom to turn to if they feel unsafe or need help. A safe adult is somebody who…
You would call in an emergency
You feel safe and comfortable with
An adult who doesn’t break body safety rules
An adult who never asks you to keep secrets
4. Safety in Numbers: Encourage your child to walk with friends or classmates when traveling to and from school. The presence of peers can deter potential threats and provide support in case of any untoward situations. And brush up on situational awareness. That means heads out of the phones as you walk to and from school. And please!!! Turn Location OFF on all apps! The only person you want to track your child is you.
5. Cyber Safety: With the increased use of technology in education, teach your child about internet safety, including the importance of not sharing personal information online and reporting any suspicious online behavior. Review safe and unsafe behaviors with your child and provide opportunities to talk about the topic in a judgment-free zone. If your child makes a mistake, you want to have them tell you. And they should feel safe in reporting to you any mistakes they make. Develop a Body Safety Family Plan that Includes an Online Safety Contract for the whole family
6. Safe Transportation: If your child uses school transportation, review the safety guidelines with them. Teach them how to behave appropriately while on the bus and remind them to follow the driver's instructions. Read my recent article on Cares.com
7. Know Your Parts: Knowing the anatomically correct terms for the body parts adds a layer of protection to kids. Predators are looking for easy targets. When your child is well-versed in body parts, body safety rules, consent, body autonomy, and knows not to keep secrets... your child becomes a difficult target. Predators are looking for children and parents that know nothing and are vulnerable.
Top 5 Recommended Books on Body Safety
Let's make this back-to-school season one of safety, growth, and positive experiences for all our children.