BACK TO SCHOOL – KEEPING KIDS SAFE
It’s hard to believe summer is nearly over. The end of the summer season always ushers in the start of a new school year. This year Broward County schools start classes on Monday, August 24. Regrettably, on the first day of school and throughout the 2009/2010 school year, our agency will have fewer school resource deputies on school grounds. It has been widely broadcasted that the Broward County School District and the Broward Sheriff's Office have been hit with tough budget cuts. Our economic turmoil cannot impede the education or safety of our children. This year – more than ever – I urge you to review and discuss safety with your children. From bullying to bicycle safety, these are important safety topics every parent or guardian should discuss with their child:
Bullying among children is aggressive behavior that is intentional and involves an imbalance of power or strength. A child who is being bullied has a hard time defending him or herself. Usually, bullying is repeated over time. Bullying can take many forms such as physical, verbal, emotional and cyber-bullying. Signs that your child might be bullied are: torn clothes; loss of appetite; mood changes; and/or a reluctance to go to school. It’s important that your child knows they can talk to you if they are being bullied. Bullying – whether or not it is happening to your child or their classmate – should be reported right away. You may make an anonymous report by calling the Broward School District’s emergency hotline at 754.321.0911.
If you think your child’s school or social group is immune from gang activity, think again. The Broward Sheriff’s Office has observed evidence of gangs in every social, academic and ethnic category. Some signs that may indicate your child is involved with gang activity include: hanging out with a new group of friends; a marked change in habits or personality; unusual hand signals or nicknames; and/or strange symbols or graffiti on notebooks or folders. If you suspect gang activity in your community or your child’s school, contact BSO’s Youth Intervention and Enforcement unit at 954.321.4100.
Walking To School
If your child walks to school, make sure there are sidewalks and crossing guards along the way. If you are not able to walk with your child, remember there is safety in numbers so have your child walk with siblings or other neighborhood children. Being hit by a car is by far the greatest threat to any child walking to school. Make sure your kids stay on the sidewalk and only cross at crosswalks. Remind your child to never, ever stop to talk to strangers on the way to and from school and, most importantly, never to get into any vehicle with a stranger. These could potentially be life threatening situations.
All children riding bicycles to school must wear bike helmets – it’s the law. Helmets are the single most effective safety device for cyclists – greatly reducing the risk of death or critical injury. Your children should ride their bicycles on the right side of the road and obey stop signs and traffic signals.
Open communication and supervision is the key to protecting your children from online predators. You should always keep your family computer in a common area of the home and discuss which online sites are acceptable and which ones are not. Encourage your child to participate in after school activities and to spend face-to-face time with friends.
Again, communication is essential to keeping kids safe. By taking extra precautions and discussing safety with your child, you will ensure the 2009/2010 school year is safe and successful one for him or her.