Schools have ever-evolving and growing safety procedures that have become necessary due to the increased risks children face from outsiders and from each other. You have to work with the school and your child to ensure everyone stays as safe as possible, and it's the little things you do that often have a great impact. In addition to following all school and community rules about school safety, try these steps to shore up your child's ability to stay safe.
Be the Mean Parent
Sometimes the threat of punishment from a parent is the best way to stop a child from doing something -- or to stop the child's classmates from pressuring them to do something. Tell your child to make you the mean parent who won't let him or her have fun if the child's classmates try to cajole him or her into doing something that makes the child feel uncomfortable. It's better to have a bunch of teens think you're the square one if it means your child is safe.
Martial Arts/Self-Defense Classes
Martial arts and self-defense classes have two benefits, and one is something you might not have associated with them. The obvious benefit is that the training gives your child the ability to defend him- or herself if push literally comes to shove. No one wants to promote violence, but if someone has your daughter in a chokehold, you want your daughter to know how to get out of that.
The other benefit is that these classes give your child ways to step back from fights. A large part of martial arts training is learning how to deal with others trying to goad the practitioner into a fight, including doing things like calling him or her names or saying the practitioner is a coward, and so on. Martial arts training helps the practitioner step back and recognize those insults for what they are, so he or she doesn't lose it and start a fight. This is essential training. Many schools offer classes for all age ranges.
Alternate Routes and Safe Spaces
If your child walks or bikes home from school, sit down with the child and a map, and work out a main route plus alternate routes. That way, if the child is late and hasn't contacted you, you know which routes to check first. Knowing alternate routes also helps your child know where to go if a route is closed off by an accident, for example.
Another thing to do at this point is see what stores are along those routes and which are safe places for the child to go to if there's trouble. Look for police and fire stations, too. Walk these routes with your child so he or she recognizes landmarks.
You have to remember that the vast majority of children make it through school and stay safe. But it is always better to give your child the skills and knowledge needed should a situation turn sour.