Keeping your kids safe: What they need to know before walking to school

By Brandi Hodges - bio | email

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – Keeping their kids safe is a full time job for parents.  As the first day of school draws close, there are things parents need to teach their children.

"Don't just push them out the door on the first day of school and point in the direction of the school and head them out there," said Sgt. Stephen McDaniel.

"You can see the bus at the end of the block from our front porch and I'm always standing there to watch until they get on," said parent Patricia Douglas.

Like most parents Douglas worries about her two children.

"We have good neighbors that watch the kids if we're not there.  They watch them get on and off the bus and if something is not right, they're right there," said Douglas.

11-year-old Brandon and 13-year-old Lola ride the bus to and from school everyday.

"If your child has to walk to school you should walk to school with them at least once or twice so you can help identify what the dangers might be on the way," said McDaniel.

McDaniel said parents should teach their kids how to get to school safely and where to go if they get scared or lost.

"If you can try to identify places along their route where they can find safety if they need to," said McDaniel.

Although they are not common, child abductions do happen.  It's vital to warn your children of the danger.

"You do want to tell them don't ever get into a vehicle with anyone that you don't know," said McDaniel.

McDaniel said there's an additional way to keep your kids safe from danger.

"Some parents have a code word that they use with their children so that if anyone ever has to come and pick them up they'll know what the code word is," said McDaniel.

Douglas said she feels secure that her children are safe.

"It helps to have good neighbors and a good bus driver and if you feel safe it just makes it easier," said Douglas.

In addition to obvious dangers there are other things kids need to know.  If their path takes them through intersections or busy streets, kids should know how to really watch out for traffic.  Know what the street lights mean and the street signs that line the roads.

Many streets in Region 8 do not have side walks, so children should walk on the side of the road towards on coming traffic so they can move out of the way when a car is coming.

Most kids now carry a cell phone.  Sergeant McDaniel said the contact list on your child's phone should have home, mom and dad listed along with their phone numbers just in case there is a problem.

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