As the traditional school year draws to a close, it is wise for parents to sit down and talk with their children about safety. Very young children will often be in some type of supervised activities, but our 'tweens and young teens may find themselves staying home alone for the first times, maybe getting newer, independent privileges for the first times, maybe even babysitting younger siblings.
Parents, the American Red Cross provides a babysitters training course for 11-15 year olds. This course not only teaches basic child care, but also educates young people in leadership, decision making and handling emergencies. This is great training even if your older child is babsitting a sibling. Just because it is a sibling doesn't mean that your older child automatically knows some of these things.
Young teens, remember when dealing with older adults at summer camps or sports activities that it is always a good idea to be cautious - not paranoid, but cautious. Many young people get crushes on camp counselors, and that is normal. However, remember the boundaries that adults are to respect. There are, unfortunately, times when those lines are blurred. Sometimes an adult may ask a child to keep a secret about something that may not be appropriate. Students in Franklin, Tennessee learn through the Safe at Last program that there are some things to consider when an adult asks a child to keep a secret:
Could someone get hurt?
Could someone get in trouble?
Is it forever?
How does it make me feel?
Some secrets are perfectly safe; some are not. The above questions can help young people decide.
Young people also should be reminded of the safe use of electronics. Text messaging and internet communication can become hurtful, and even dangerous. Remind your children to never send any text or pictures on their phones or through the internet that they would not want anyone else to see. Nothing is ever really deleted, and once something is out there in the cyberworld, all control is lost as far as where it could end up. Cyberbullying is rampant among middle schoolers, and use of the internet should be monitored. If students will be home alone, there is protective software available, although not completely fool proof.
Lastly, remind your children that chat rooms can be very deceptive. There is never any real way to know who you are talking to. People can and do lie about many things, so it bears repeating often to never give out any personal information.
In today's society, there is probably no such thing as too much caution when it comes to our kids' safety. There are far too many sad stories in our newspapers daily. Help your child have a safe summer by putting awareness and safety first!