Category Archives: School Safety

Getting To & From School Safely — Teen Drivers

teenager with a car keyColorado School Grades partners with Moms Fight Back to highlight school safety issues. This post is excerpted from their Back to School Safety eBook. Read more on the Moms Fight Back website. 

This week we’re highlighting safe travel to school. We focused on school buses, also walking to school  and biking to school. Today, what if your teenager is ready to drive to school?

More than half of school-aged children in the United States arrive to school by car and a vast number of those are teen drivers driving themselves to school.

According to The National Center for Health, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among 15-20-year-olds and teen drivers are the most at risk for motor vehicle crashes. Aside from always wearing a seat belt (studies have proven for decades that seat belts do save lives) there are a few tools you can implement to help ensure your teen driver arrives at school safely.

If you have a young driver, Zubie can come in handy, especially if you don’t own a technology-enhanced car. Zubie plugs into a car’s diagnostic port and shares location, speed and GPS data as well as diagnostic data to let you know if there are any problems with the vehicle. Zubie tracks driving behavior based on key metrics and reports instances of speeding and hard braking, among other things. You can get the Zubie device and service for around $100.

Worried about your teen driver texting while behind the wheel? SecuraFone is a one-of-a-kind mobile application that prevents the use of distracting applications such as text messaging and email while the device is in motion. The application also provides parents, caretakers and others with the ability to receive alerts based on specific events or conditions such as speed alerts, inactivity alerts, and the entry into or exit out of virtual boundaries that can be set up with a click of a button. SecuraFone is free to download and requires a monthly service subscription of $8.95. Available for iPhone and Android.

Whether your child is walking, biking, taking the bus, driving, or being driven to school, safety always comes first. Educate your kids to help them make smart decisions about safety on their own.

 

 

 

 

Getting To & From School Safely — Biking to School

kids biking to schoolColorado School Grades partners with Moms Fight Back to highlight school safety issues. This post is excerpted from their Back to School Safety eBook. Read more on the Moms Fight Back website. 

This week we’re highlighting safe travel to school. We focused on school buses and walking to school. Today, biking to school.

First, teach your child some basic rules-of-the-road for bicyclists:

  • Your child must wear a helmet. Always. Even if it is a short ride. No exceptions.
  • Brightly colored clothing helps drivers to see your child biking.
  • Ride with traffic, on a designated bike path or in a bike lane.
  • Stop and look both ways before entering a street, intersection, driveway, or crossing an alley. Stop at all intersections, whether marked or unmarked.
  • Before turning, use hand signals and look in every direction.

Much like the walking school bus, many school communities and neighborhoods are helping kids get to school safely by bike by setting up a bike train.

What is a bike train?

“A bike train is a group of students and adults who bike to and from school together, making stops along a previously designated route to pick up others as they approach the school. While walking school buses (the walking version of a bike train) are great for shorter distances, bike trains allow children who live farther from the school to participate in active transportation.” (From: the Bike Train Guide created by Fire Up Your Feet.)

Tomorrow: Prepping for your teen to drive to school. 

Getting To & From School Safely — Walking to School

Kids walking to schoolColorado School Grades partners with Moms Fight Back to highlight school safety issues. This post is excerpted from their Back to School Safety eBook. Read more on the Moms Fight Back website.

This week we’re highlighting safe travel to school. Yesterday, we focused on school buses. Today, walking to school.

15% of kids walk or bike to school. Walking to and from school is a great way to create a regular exercise routine for your children and reduces the risk of obesity.

But walking to school still has potential problems such as predators, loose animals, bullies, and unsafe drivers. Make sure your child has a safe, pre-planned, well-travelled route to follow before allowing them to walk to school.

Consider starting up a walking pool in your community to bring students together to walk in groups – there’s safety in numbers!

The online guide at Walking School Bus advises asking the following four questions when creating a walking school bus route:

  • Do you have room to walk?
 Are there sidewalks and paths?
 Is there too much traffic?
  • Is it easy to cross the street?
  • Do drivers behave well?
 Do they yield to walkers?
 Do they speed?
  • Does the environment feel safe?
 Are there loose dogs?
 Is there criminal activity?

For more information on a establishing a walking school bus, read the guide created by The National Center for Safe Routes to School.

Here are some additional safety tips to share with your child if he or she is going to walk to school, alone or in a group:

  • First, see if there are other neighborhood children your child can walk with.
  • Check for routes that require as few intersection crossings as possible.
  • Explain to your child that they may not deviate from the pre-planned route.
  • Discourage the use of iPods, cell phones, screens of any kind, or headphones – kids should not be looking at screens or listening to loud music when walking to school. Awareness equals safety.
  • Make sure your child understands never to accept a ride from a stranger or a friend unless it has been prearranged by you.

One mom who blogs at Kitchen Counter Chronicle, offers this excellent tip for parents with kids who walk to school: As a parent it is important sometimes to get down and look at the world from a child’s point of view… literally. Often times young children cannot see over cars, around corners and beyond obstructions like shrubs and fences. Take a walk with your kids, but stop and get down and check out your child’s perspective. The world might look entirely different.

Tomorrow’s travel highlight: biking to school.

Getting To & From School Safely — School Bus Travel

kids getting on a school busColorado School Grades partners with Moms Fight Back to highlight school safety issues. This post is excerpted from their Back to School Safety eBook. Read more on the Moms Fight Back website.

Ensuring your kids get to school safe and sound is no longer as simple as sending them off to the bus in the morning with a hug. According to Healthychildren.org, 815 students die annually, and 152,250 are injured during regular travel between school and home.

The Colorado Safe Routes to School Program tells us that less than 15% of all trips to school are made by students walking or biking, more than 50% arrive by car, and 25% travel to school by bus. However your child travels to school, we’ve compiled safety tips and thinking points to help ensure safety along your child’s route to school. Today’s highlight: traveling to school by bus.

The National Highway Safety Administration states, “School buses are the safest mode of transportation for getting children back and forth to school.” Reasons for this include the extensive safety, security, and medical training bus drivers receive, and strictly enforced school bus traffic laws. This does not mean that our trusty yellow school buses are free of risks. The very acts of getting on and off the bus account for three times as many school bus-related deaths compared to the ride itself. These serious injuries and fatalities during loading and unloading can occur when children are in a hurry getting on and off the bus, don’t pay attention to surrounding traffic, or move out of the bus driver’s sight.

To avoid these threats, teach your children these common-sense precautions when they ride the bus to school:

  • Never move toward the bus until it has come to a complete stop, the door has opened, and its safety lights are flashing.
  • Always stay within the bus driver’s view, walk in front of the bus only.
  • Never move around on the bus. Stay in your seat. If the bus has seat belts, always wear one.
  • Obey the driver, and speak quietly so the driver can concentrate.
  • Never stick anything out of a bus window.

Tomorrow’s safe routes to school highlight: walking to school.

Making Your Child’s School Safer

school pickup mom and kidColorado School Grades partners with Moms Fight Back to highlight school safety issues. This post is excerpted from their Back to School Safety eBook. Check out tips for choosing a safe school here.

If your child’s school doesn’t meet your criteria for safety there are a number of things you can do to get involved and help make a change:

Introduce Be Safe and Sound in School (B3S) to your school community. B3S a seven-step program that provides school administrators, teachers and staff with the tools they need to proactively address school safety. The B3S Guide to Best Practices is a free download you can use to help your school attain higher safety standards.

The three key goals of the program are to raise community awareness of school safety issues, engage parents and students in making schools safer and to create plans to reduce criminal activity in schools. The resources at the link above include all of the materials any school needs to make their B3S initiative successful, including surveys for parents, students, and staff that help identify concerns, school safety, as well as school security assessments.

The National Crime Prevention Council website also offers a wide range of information and tips for improving school safety. Review their School Safety page to learn more.

If you see a real problem at your child’s school, consider joining the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) and attending meetings. Talk to other parents about your concerns and try to join together, ensuring a louder voice and more attention to your desires for a truly safe school for your child. The only way through the haze of school violence and fear to peaceful environments that are healthy for our kids is by bringing this information and the potential solutions to the forefront.

 

 

Tips for Choosing a Safe School, by Heidi Ganahl

Heidi GanahlColorado School Grades partners with Moms Fight Back to highlight school safety issues. In this post, the organization’s founder Heidi Ganahl offers an update to her 2013 blog post about how to choose a safe school.

As moms, one of our biggest concerns is keeping our children and families safe – sometimes that means our own watchful eye and sometimes that means trusting our kids to the safe keeping of others. As much as we love our children, we simply can’t be by their side every minute of every day and it falls to our community schools and school officials, as well as our children’s teachers, to maintain the level of safety we expect and that our children need to thrive.

All children deserve safe classrooms where they can learn and grow without fear or stress – but not all schools are created equal. With school choice, we as parents are able to make careful, more deliberate decisions about where to send our kids to school – but finding the right school is much more than simply comparing teachers, curriculum, performance, and extra curricular activities. School safety standards and procedures must be a part of the math we do when weighing one school against another.

So how and where can you learn more about the safety of the school your child attends, or the school you’re considering?

You can talk to school officials, other parents, and directly to your own child – asking your child if they feel safe at school is a great way to begin to gauge safety at school. But it can be difficult to get the full picture on school safety when it comes to issues like bullying, internet safety, social media safety, and mental illness in youth. And it can be even more difficult to get real answers about things like weapons at school and physical violence in the classroom.

Even if you’re already happy with the school your child attends, and especially if you’re doing research in consideration of a move, keep an eye to safety by asking these important questions:

  1. Who at the school is responsible for school safety and are they immediately available and authorized to make decisions if there is an incident?
  2. Are there specific and easy to understand policies and procedures in place and enforced around issues like social media, internet use, bullying, weapons, and physical violence?
  3. What efforts are being made to eliminate safety threats at school?
  4. Is there an anti-bullying program in place at the school and are students and teachers alike made familiar with the program?
  5. Is there an anonymous reporting system available to students who have experienced or witnessed violence or bullying at school?
  6. What is the school’s response to students who are troubled or known to be bullies?
  7. How and when is the parent community notified of violent or threatening incidents at the school?
  8. Is there a plan with local first responders in preparation for an emergency situation?
  9. In the event of a crisis, where can parents call and what are the procedures for retrieving children from school should an emergency arise?

For additional information and questions to ask your child’s school, The National School Safety and Security Services created a list of 10 Practical Things Parents Can Do To Assess School Security and Crisis Preparedness.

Excerpted from the Back to School Safety eBook by Moms Fight Back.

 

What Moms Can Do to Protect Kids from Bullying

Heidi Ganahl

This week, Colorado School Grades is partnering with Moms Fight Back to highlight school safety issues. Check out Heidi’s first post about questions to ask when searching for a safe school for your child. 

by Heidi Ganahl

74% of eight to 11-year-olds say teasing and bullying happen at their school according to the National Crime Prevention Council. Bullying in schools is not an unusual problem, it is not bias to age or gender and it occurs in every state across the US. The importance of taking bullying seriously cannot be overstated. Victims of bullying and bullies themselves often struggle in school, experience a low self-esteem, become depressed and turn to violent behavior. Michigan State University School Violence Specialist, Glenn Stutzky, stated, “We have a whole generation of adults in the educational system that still view bullying as ‘just that’s the way it is.’” If we want our children to be safe, enjoy school and grow up to be respectable adults, we cannot accept this as the status quo.

As moms, we must remember that our children may be involved in bullying in a variety of ways: they may be the bully, they may be the victim, or they may be the witness of bullying. All three of these situations require us to guide our children effectively and to do what we can to empower them to behave with respect and kindness toward others.

Mom’s Fight Back has written several posts on bullying including “Cyberbullying 101 + Prevention Tips,” “Schools and Students Take a Stand and Get Creative | Bullying Prevention,” and “Kids Making a Difference: Anti-bullying.”  Today we want to share with you 9 things you can do as a mom to protect your child from bullying at school. These tips have been curated from the National Crime Prevention Council and StopBullying.gov.

keep communication open1. Keep communication open. Ask your children how their day was and listen to what they say about school, social events, and their classmates. Pay attention and provide encouragement / guidance on any concerns or problems they share. Know who their friends are and help them feel comfortable talking to you.

2. Talk to your children about bullying and make sure they understand its consequences. Discuss what bullying is and how they can stand up for themselves and others safely. Explain why bullying is unacceptable and the negative impact it can have on people’s lives. Educate your children on where they can get help at school.

3. If you witness or hear about any bullying, respond right away. Do what you can to stop the bullying – even if your child is the one bullying.

4. Encourage your children to help others who need it and to stand up for those being picked on or teased.

model how to treat others5. Model how to treat others with kindness and respect. Never bully your children or bully others. Children who are bullied at home often react by bullying others. If your kids witness you hit, ridicule or gossip about someone, they will be more likely to do it themselves.

6. Support the bully prevention programs in your local school and community. If a program does not currently exist, reach out to other parents, teachers and concerned adults and start your own.

7. Teach your children how to solve problems without violence or harsh words. Recognize and praise them when they address issues, frustrations, or negativity in a peaceful and positive way.

8. Remember the importance of your kids feeling confident enough to stand up for what they believe in. Don’t hesitate when it comes to giving positive feedback and strive to have a safe and supportive home environment.

encourage your kids9. Encourage your kids to participate in activities they love. Pursuing their interests and hobbies can boost their confidence, help them make new friends and can help protect them from bullying.

By addressing bullying ahead of time, we have a better chance of keeping our kids engaged, happy and confident at school and at home. We will also be playing a part in the effort to decrease school violence and youth suicide. Let’s work together to be proactive and make a positive difference in the lives of our children.

Heidi Ganahl, founder and CEO of Camp Bow Wow and The Bow Wow Buddies Foundation, is also the founder of Moms Fight Back. Moms Fight Back is building a community of Colorado moms to tackle the issues only a mom is brave enough to take on! Our mission is to make moms the most important players in politics and problem solving for a happier, healthier, safer world for our kids! We may not be soldiers on the front lines, but we are soldiers nonetheless, fighting for our children’s lives; fighting to keep our kids healthy, sane, happy, safe. If not us, then who? Take the first step and join the army of moms at Moms Fight Back!


7 Questions to Ask When Searching for the Safest School for Your Child

Heidi Ganahl

This week, Colorado School Grades is partnering with Moms Fight Back to highlight school safety issues. 

by Heidi Ganahl

At Mom’s Fight Back, our main concern is keeping children safe. One of the best ways to do this is to address, understand and improve school safety. With the standard of School Choice, we have learned that choosing the right school for your child is hard enough when you are simply comparing teachers, curriculum, and performance. A vital element of your research however, should focus on school safety standards and procedures. When trying to determine the security and safety of a school, parents should speak with school officials, research the neighborhood and look into the history of school violence in the area.

The 2013 Indicators of School Crime and Safety Report, created by the National Center for Education Statistics and the Bureau of Justice Statistics, stated, “For parents, school staff, and policymakers to effectively address school crime, they need an accurate understanding of the extent, nature, and context of the problem. However, it is difficult to gauge the scope of crime and violence in schools given the large amount of attention devoted to isolated incidents of extreme school violence.” While it may be difficult to get the full picture of school safety, it is important to ask questions and seek out those in charge of school safety.

To help you get started with your research, we have curated 7 important questions you can ask when searching for the safest school for your children. To learn more, please visit ColoradoSchoolGrades.com, Education World, or ReGroup.Com.

1. Is there a point person who is responsible for school safety and can answer questions or make decisions if something happens / or if there is a policy concern?

2. Are there specific and easy to understand policies and procedures enforced in regards to school safety?

3. Does the school regularly exercise safety drills to prepare for evacuation or lockdown situations?

4. What prevention efforts are being made to eliminate safety threats? Is there an effective anti-bullying program in place? What is the school’s response to troubled students?

5. Are students, teachers and personnel trained on what to do and how to survive a shooting event or other violent attack?

6. Is there a clear coordination plan between the school and local first responders in preparation for an emergency situation? (A Crisis Response Plan is recommended as it is co-developed by the school and local law enforcement.) What plans are there for clear communication and effective mitigation of threats?

7. In the event of a crisis, what does the school want parents to do? What is their role in helping with the emergency, where do they call, where do they pick up their kids, what kind of documentation do parents need?

The National School Safety and Security Services created a list of 10 Practical Things Parents Can Do To Assess School Security and Crisis Preparedness that may also be helpful when researching schools. One of their suggestions is to simply ask your children about the safety in the school they are currently attending. Students will likely be aware of any security issues that exist or what would help them feel safer at school. The article also provides multiple questions that you can ask school officials and school safety specialists to create a clearer picture of the school’s safety status.

If you need help getting started on what to look for when researching schools in general or going on school tours, ColoradoSchoolGrades.com has a great article that provides helpful tips. Once you have come up with a list of potential schools, ColoradoSchoolGrades.com also offers a tool to compare up to four schools at a time.

moms fight backHeidi Ganahl, founder and CEO of Camp Bow Wow and The Bow Wow Buddies Foundation, is also the founder of Moms Fight Back. Moms Fight Back is building a community of Colorado moms to tackle the issues only a mom is brave enough to take on! Our mission is to make moms the most important players in politics and problem solving for a happier, healthier, safer world for our kids! We may not be soldiers on the front lines, but we are soldiers nonetheless, fighting for our children’s lives; fighting to keep our kids healthy, sane, happy, safe. If not us, then who? Take the first step and join the army of moms at Moms Fight Back!

 

School Safety Week: CSG Partners with Moms Fight Back

moms fight backThis week, Colorado School Grades is partnering with Moms Fight Back to discuss important issues in school safety and particularly how to keep safety in mind when picking a school for your child.

Moms Fight Back is led by a Colorado mom motivated to help other parents with tough issues such as Internet safety, bullying, sexual abuse and assault, and gun safety.

Some more on the organization: Moms Fight Back is building a community of Colorado moms to tackle the issues only a mom is brave enough to take on!

Our mission is to make moms the most important players in politics and problem solving for a happier, healthier, safer world for our kids! We may not be soldiers on the front lines, but we are soldiers nonetheless, fighting for our children’s lives; fighting to keep our kids healthy, sane, happy, safe. If not us, then who? Take the first step and join the army of moms at Moms Fight Back!

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Stay tuned for more posts this week focused on school safety!