As you are all aware, some schools have already, re-opened for the first term this week. Due to the increase in the school activities, the IGP has come out to remind all school administrators, educators, on their legal responsibilities to protect school children from harm, including risks posed by health, safety and security. Therefore, the safety and security guidelines issued by the Ministry of Education should be strictly adhered to.
As students and pupils return to school, we would like to remind parents, carers and teachers about the safety of children. The first term means increased activities in teaching and learning and many other academic preparations. It also means waking up early, to transport the children to school. This brings about congestion on the roads due to rush hours of dropping and picking children.
Listed below are some simple safety tips for parents, guardians and school managers.
· All schools are reminded to review their security emergency preparations, supervision and other school safety fundamentals. This includes the school visitor procedures and how access to school buildings is done in a high priority area.
· We recommend that all children are examined upon their return to school for any signs of child abuse during their holiday. Awareness of allergies.
· When transporting children to school, ensure you walk with them to teach them safe habits around drop zones or in the classrooms. For the boarding schools, establish contacts to monitor the safe arrival and presence of the children at school.
· Children transported on motorcycles are required to wear helmets, since 80% of all head and brain injuries arise out of failure to use helmets.
· Ensure your child knows your mobile number or emergency police numbers 999/112. Learn to set up GPS tracking devices on your child’s mobile phone or other items.
· Avoid use of shortcuts that puts the child in a vulnerable situation.
· Watch out for stalkers on foot, motorcycle or motor vehicles. Seek help immediately in case of any suspicious movements or go to the nearest police.
· Teach your children how to avoid talking to strangers and to never accept lifts from them or someone not approved by their parents. The same applies to any gifts or food from an adult.
· Help your child memorise contact information. Ensure that young children know their full name, address, home phone number and how to use a phone. The school should have a record of emergency contact details that includes office phone, cell phone, home phone, etc. Make sure the child knows which adult to contact in case of an emergency.
· Teach Them to be Alert and Vigilant. The child should know that he or she should not leave the school premises unattended. Children have the tendency to lose their sense of space and time when they are playing and may easily get lost.
· Always be informed on trips.
In case the school is taking the children on a field trip, know where they’re going and who will be chaperoning the trip
· Use indicators instead of names while labeling
Be careful when writing names on a child’s possessions for the purpose of identification. If confronted by an abductor, this may put them on a first-name basis with the child. Try to place a distinct label, like red stars or bright green stickers, instead of names
· Memorize routes and landmarks
Show the child landmarks and safe areas between school and home, so that they have somewhere to run to in case of emergencies. Train the children to use the main roads and avoid shortcuts and isolated areas. In case they use the bus, make sure they know which one to use.
· Awareness of allergies
In case your child has any allergies, ensure that the school is aware of them.
· Proper emergency procedure
See to it that the school has a proper plan in case of an emergency and that the children are properly trained. For example, every school should have a proper fire drill and emergency evacuation plan.
· Be hands-on and don’t hesitate to get involved. With the help of other parents, organising things like neighbourhood watches can drastically reduce abductions and may even improve traffic safety. PTA meetings are a great time to address common issues that kids face. Any problems should be reported to teachers as they could aid in solving them, together with you.
· Strangers are a No-No. Teach children to be cautious of strangers. Teach them to walk away if any strangers approach them and ask for directions or offer them food. Kids should learn to trust their gut instinct and try to have drills or practices which would help them identify potential danger.
· Keep dangerous items out of reach
Playing or experimenting with fire and sharp objects should be strictly forbidden be it at home, or in school. Children have to be made aware from day one that bringing weapons to school is a serious violation of safety.
· Always have a point of contact
Children should be encouraged to always check with their parents or a trusted adult for any issues that may come up. Several times, children are approached by strangers claiming that something has happened to their mother or father. Such predators thrive on the naivety of young kids. Make sure they know that if they are ever in a situation like that, they should first approach a teacher to tell them what happened.
· Be the first to be informed. If your child has any change of plans, make sure they know how to contact you. In case they decide to go to the park with a friend or to another friend’s house, make sure an adult you know will be present to supervise.
· Don’t tolerate bullying. Teach children from a young age that bullying is an intolerable offence. In order to protect themselves, they need to know not to bully their peers.
· Teach them to avoid unknown places
Children might start walking an empty street all by themselves or explore an unknown area near the school when the parents are running late to pick them up. To ensure they are safe while they are waiting for you, have a teacher or someone trustable from the school staff keep a watch on your child. It is always a better idea for your child to stay on the school premises until you reach.
· Encourage them to trust their instincts. Children often struggle with trusting their instincts. Encourage them to listen to the little voice in their heads to avoid walking into a risky situation and stay safe.
safe to cross without further hesitation so you have time to cross safely.
· Watch for cars that are turning left or right when you are crossing.
· Walk on a sidewalk when it is provided. If you must walk in the street, walk facing traffic, on the left side of the road and as far to the left as possible.
· Make it easy for drivers to see you. Dress in light colors, wear reflective material or use a flashlight.
· Remove headphones and don’t use cell phones or electronic devices when crossing the street.
· Watch for white lights on the rear of vehicles in driveways or parking lots, signaling a vehicle is backing up.
· Avoid walking alone. Walk with a friend.
Bicycle Safety Tips
· Make sure your child has the skills to ride a bike safely, such as riding in a straight line and signaling to vehicles when turning.
· Choose the safest route to bike to school, one with less traffic and slower speeds. Use sidewalks unless prohibited by local laws or bike paths if they are available.
· Make sure your cyclists understand traffic safety rules, such as riding in the same direction as traffic and stopping at all stop signs and signals.
· Explain the importance of wearing a bike helmet to your child. They’re critical to minimizing injury in case of a crash. According to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, wearing a helmet can reduce the odds of head injury by half.
· Ride focused and alert. Never use earbuds or electronics while riding.
· “No matter the plan, no matter the mode of transportation, everyone needs to remain vigilant. Put down the phone, look up, and pay attention to help students get to and from school safely,”
· All prohibited items must not be smuggled into schools, both day and boarding. Some of the prohibited items include; smart phones, polythene bags, selected electrical gadgets and other flame base products like candles, lighters, matches which are major fire hazards, drugs, alcohols, cigarettes, energy drinks, glass bottles, unnecessary cash and expensive items and any other items which are deemed illegal to possess or inappropriate for the age of the child or school environment.
· All stakeholders should keep in mind that security is an ongoing process that requires vigilance and situational awareness. In addition, all school administrators are advised to regularly liaise with the territorial police units and update each other on the prevailing security situation.
We wish all students a happy first term and urge them to report any crime and safety concerns to the school teachers, LC or area police.
Providing a safe learning environment is of paramount importance to the students and school children. We therefore, encourage the deployment of smoked detectors, CCTV camera, access control, armed security guards, intruder alarms and raise wall perimeters.
SCP Enanga Fred
30th January 2023