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Phoenix Police Department shares back to school safety tips

8/1/16

NORTH VALLEY – In preparation for the start of the 2016-2017 school year, the Phoenix Police Department Traffic Bureau will once again be conducting a Back to School Enforcement program throughout the City. To make this year’s Back to School safe and secure for both our children and motorists alike, the department is asking for everyone’s help.   

Beginning Monday, Aug. 8, Traffic Bureau personnel will be deployed at school zones citywide to increase visibility and conduct enforcement at these locations. Motor officers will be deployed during both the morning drop-off and afternoon release times. Patrol officers will also increase their presence around schools.   

Though some may not believe it, back to school is a very exciting time for our children, especially the younger kids! It is important that our children and parents understand the hazards our children face during the school year.

Tips for Parents

Prepare your child for travel to and from school, whether by school bus or walking, by ensuring if at all possible that they never travel alone. If they are riding the bus, make sure you watch your child as they walk to the bus stop and keep an eye on them until they are safely on the bus. An adult should also be waiting near the bus stop when the children return home. If walking to school, remember there is safety in numbers. Children should never walk to school alone! Speak with your neighbors and identify those children in your neighborhood who walk to school and form an alliance! One neighbor, again if at all possible and perhaps even in a rotation, should keep an eye on the youngsters as they walk to school or catch the bus.

Talk to your children about “Stranger Danger”; tell them to never talk to strangers as they walk to and from school. If they are approached by a stranger, especially in a vehicle, they should move away as quickly as possible and go on to school or back home, whichever is closest. Any contact with a stranger should be reported to a teacher, or mom and dad as soon as possible. It is important that, unless there are organized before and after school activities or pre-arranged events, our children go directly to and from school.

Electronic Devices:
Many of our children, even the youngest, are carrying cellular telephones these days. The cell phone can be an extremely useful tool for our children if an emergency situation occurs. Cell phones allow the kids to call for help when needed and to communicate with their parents. Unfortunately, cell phones also create a distraction for our children. Texting, talking on the phone with friends, and even playing games keep our children from paying attention to their surroundings and this makes them vulnerable to strangers and traffic hazards alike. Parents should warn their children of these hazards and restrict casual cell phone use when traveling to and from school, even on the school bus.

Traffic Hazards:
Neighborhood streets, crosswalks, and school crossings pose the most danger to our children when traveling to and from school. Children should be told to pay extra attention when traveling to and from school, even if there are crossing guards present. Crossing guards, those who volunteer their time to help keep our children safe, may have a difficult time attempting to control vehicle traffic and the children they are trying to protect at the same time. Children should be told to obey the directives of the crossing guards at all times.

Our children should also be reminded to never play in the street and be extra careful when crossing the roadway. It is during the early morning (school) hours when folks seem to be in a hurry the most. Unfortunately, oftentimes drivers are not prepared to react when a child suddenly appears in front of their vehicle!

Home Alone:

Sometimes circumstances dictate that children be left at home alone for a short period before and after school. In Arizona, the law does not designate the exact age at which a child can stay home alone or watch other children.

Parents need to use a “reasonableness test” by asking these questions:

  • Can your child, regardless of his or her age, act reasonably under the circumstances?
  • Is your child mature enough to know what to do in an emergency?
  • If there is a fire, is your child mature enough to get out of the house?
  • Is he or she mature enough to get other children out of the house?

Key points for parents to share with kids who are staying home alone:

  • Keep the doors locked.
  • Do not open the door for or talk to anyone who stops by unless the person is a trusted family friend or relative, and the visit has been pre-approved by the parents or guardians.
  • Never tell anyone who calls that you’re home by yourself.

Before leaving your child home alone, ensure there is a trusted neighbor or friend who knows the child is home alone and that the child can call if they just feel afraid or uncomfortable. And, of course, ensure your child knows how to reach you and how to make an emergency call if necessary!

These simple rules and tips should assist us in keeping our children safe not only during the school year, but at all times!