School is Back in Session: Keeping Students Safe is Priority #1
Heavy Backpacks, Road Dangers, Unsafe Playgrounds and Bullying All Pose a Safety Threat to Students
The 2014-2015 school year is in full swing across metro Atlanta and in Dougherty County. New clothes and school supplies have been purchased, early bedtimes have been reinstituted, and carpool groups are organized and mobilized. The start of school is the perfect time for parents, teachers, administrators and students to focus on safety hazards facing children and youth – from backpack injuries, to dangers faced while traveling to and from school, to bullying, to weapons in schools, to armed attackers on school campuses – and discuss steps families and schools can take to prevent avoidable injuries and harm.
Preventive Measures to Keep Students Safe This School Year
The National Safety Council and U.S. Department of Education suggest several key steps families and schools can take to prevent school-related injuries and harm:
• Students walking to school should walk on the sidewalk. If a sidewalk is unavailable, they should walk facing traffic. Walkers should look both ways before crossing the street, use crosswalks, and never cross the street in front of a parked car. Students should never talk on cellphones or text while walking to school.
• Students riding the bus to school should stand six feet from the curb while waiting for the bus. When crossing the street to get on the bus or after exiting the bus, students should make sure they can always see the bus driver and the driver can see them. Students should remain seated at all times when the bus is moving.
• Students riding bikes to school should always wear a helmet and ride on the right side of the road in a single-file line.
• Parents should choose a book bag that is ergonomically designed to prevent backpack-related injuries. Students should use both straps when wearing the backpack and should not overstuff the bag. The recommended backpack weight is 10-20% of a student’s body weight.
• To avoid playground injuries, children should use playgrounds with a soft surface and stay away from playgrounds built on concrete, grass or dirt surfaces. Young children should not be allowed on climbing equipment and all children should avoid monkey bars.
• Schools should offer students ways to easily and anonymously report threats from classmates to prevent bullying. Teachers and staff should also be trained to spot and confront potential bullying occurring on school property.
• Schools should use metal detectors to identify and confiscate weapons brought onto campus by students.
• To reduce the likelihood of attacks by armed gunmen, schools should lock and/or monitor all exterior school doors once instruction begins, install security cameras on campuses and require all visitors to check in at the front office.
This update has been prepared by Council & Associates for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. The information is not provided in the course of an attorney-client relationship and is not a substitute for legal advice from a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction.