Twelve Back-to-School Safety Tips for Parents
By Dove’s Nest Staff and Board Members
1. Ask your children how they felt about a new experience at school. Rather than simply asking “What did you do today?” ask “What was your favorite part? What are you most proud of? Did you ever feel unsafe?”
2. Inquire about your school's protection policy, especially if it is a private school. Encourage Christian schools to teach Circle of Grace, a Christian safe environment curriculum for kindergarten through twelfth grade.
3. Think about ways to education other parents about abuse prevention—social media posts, casual conversations, or hosting an event.
4. Remind your children who the trusted adults around them are. (Trusted adults are identified by children as grown-ups who help them stay safe, understand boundaries, and respect the child’s body autonomy.)
5. Prepare your children for the time before and after the official school day—how they will get to and from school and who they will spend time with after school.
6. Discuss bullying. Encourage your children to talk to you, as well as their teachers, counselors, and principals about issues that come up at school.
7. Consider limiting screen time, Internet, and texting, especially in the evening. For example, some families require everyone to put their cell phone and other devices in the kitchen at bedtime.
8. Talk about ways to stay safe when at a friend’s house after school, overnight, at birthday parties, or if a parent or other grown-up isn’t around. Also talk about strategies for if someone in that house makes your child feel uncomfortable or if there’s a weapon in the house.
9. Tell your children to listen to their guts and pay attention to the “creep factor” clues they may get from adults. Let them know they should not ignore this, as it might be grooming behavior, and explain that they should report it to you or another trusted adult. For example, teens need to know adult teachers should never expect to meet them alone in an office without others in view.
10. Make an effort to truly get to know your children’s friends—and get to know their parents. Help create a supportive community that will aid in watching out for each other’s children.
11. Children and teens often disclose information about abuse, self-harm, or suicidal thoughts to their peers. Teach your kids that they shouldn’t try to deal with upsetting or scary situations alone and that you or other trusted adults can help them advocate for their friends.
12. Listen to your children!