This school year, Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan is reminding parents and children about some helpful tips to stay healthy and safe.
With more than 233,000 children in Middlesex County beginning or returning to school, children are bound to confront a series of new challenges and unfamiliar experiences. District Attorney Ryan is thus urging parents to take a few minutes to talk about safety with their child, from safely traveling to and from school to being safe on the Internet.
On the Road to School
Walking to School
Walk in a group or with a responsible adult.
Always walk on the sidewalk.
If there is no sidewalk, walk facing the traffic.
Cross at intersections, in a crosswalk with a crossing guard.
Walk, don’t run, when crossing the street.
The size of the backpack should match the size of the child.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that a child’s backpack weigh no more than 10-20% of a child’s weight.
Pack lightly – a heavy backpack forces a child to bend forward and may cause injury.
Distribute the weight evenly, keeping heavy items on the bottom and off the shoulders.
Use both straps – shifting weight to one side may cause muscle spasms and lower back pain.
Riding the Bus
Stand at least 6 feet away from the curb and wait for the bus to stop before approaching.
Never walk behind or in front of a bus.
Good behavior on the bus is important – loud noise and other disturbances can district the driver.
Keep the aisle clear of books, bags, and backpacks.
Riding your Bike to School
Always wear a helmet.
Wear bright colors.
Respect the rules of the road.
Know hand signals and use them.
Come to a complete stop before crossing the street.
Strangers and Internet Danger
Be Safe in the Community
All children should know their address, a parent’s phone number, and how and when to call 911.
Teach your child to NEVER accept rides from anyone unless you said it is OK.
Teach your child to NEVER talk to or accept gifts from someone they do not know.
Be Safe Online
Clearly explain rules for using the Internet and social websites on your home computer, tablet and cell phone.
Monitor your child’s use of the Internet, including who he or she communicates with online.
Make sure children and teens do not use their full name, school name, hometown or birthday on any social media site.
Let your child know it is OK to come to you if he is uncomfortable about something on the Internet, no matter what it is.
Set privacy settings on all social media applications.
If you suspect your child is being bullied talk to your child to gather more information.
Monitor you child’s activities and relationships with others, especially at times when observation is not expected.
Supervise and review electronic communication like the internet, social networking sites and cell phones.
Report an suspected acts of bullying or cyber bullying to your school principal
Talk to your children about how they communicate online and encourage them to speak up if they witness cyber bullying.
If you suspect your child is being bullied, and it is impacting the school environment, you should report it to your child’s school.
Contact your local police department if your child receives a message/image that is harassing or threatening.
Tell your children that they should never take a nude or partially nude photo
Inform them that if they receive a nude image to never forward or share it
Remind them to tell a trusted adult if they feel that are being pressured to send a sexually explicit image. Once an image is sent there is no way to control who will see it or share it.
Substance and Alcohol Abuse
Talk to your teen openly about your suspicions when you are calm and your child is not under the influence.
Do not delay talking with your teen or make excuses for their abnormal behavior.
Tell your child you are concerned because you are. Reaffirm that you still love him or her.
Think ahead and keep medicine cabinets tidy. Remove an unwanted prescription medications and be aware of what you are keeping in your home
Find out what stresses or difficulties your child may have been experiencing that may lead him or her to drug use.
Work collectively as a family to solve the problem if your child admits to using drugs or alcohol.
Be firm and enforce the consequences that are part of your family rules and values.
Actively listen to your child and answer their questions.
Parents, caretakers and children looking for more information and resources are encouraged to attend the Middlesex County Back-to-School Safety Event hosted by Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan, Winchester Hospital and Lahey Health this Saturday, September 10th from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at 15 Commonwealth Avenue in Woburn.
The Back-to-School Safety Event will offer parents an opportunity to learn about issues affecting the health and safety of school-aged children, such as bullying, cyber safety, dating abuse and drugs and alcohol. Resource booths for parents will be staffed by representatives of the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office and other community organizations. In addition, over a dozen police officers from area police departments will offer free car seat installations and checks for new and expectant parents, as well as for grandparents and other caretakers. The event will also give children a chance to explore over 50 diverse emergency vehicles from local, state, federal agencies. “Explore Emergency Vehicles” is a fun and educational activity where children and parents are given the opportunity interact with law enforcement and other first responders to learn about various public safety professions.