School Bus Safety for Your Child
- Get to the bus stop at least five minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive.
- When the bus approaches, stand at least three giant steps (6 feet) away from the curb, and line up away from the street.
- Wait until the bus stops, the door opens, and the driver says that it’s okay before stepping onto the bus.
- If you have to cross the street in front of the bus, walk on the sidewalk or along the side of the road to a point at least five giant steps (10 feet) ahead of the bus before you cross. Be sure that the bus driver can see you, and you can see the bus driver.
- Use the handrails to avoid falls. When exiting the bus, be careful that clothing with drawstrings, and book bags with straps don’t get caught in the handrails or doors.
- Never walk behind the bus.
- Walk at least three giant steps away from the side of the bus.
- If you drop something near the bus, tell the bus driver. Never try to pick it up because the driver may not be able to see you.
Understanding Bullying Behavior
Kids bully for many reasons. Some bully because they feel insecure. Picking on someone who seems emotionally or physically weaker provides a feeling of being more important, popular, or in control. In other cases, kids bully because they simply don’t know that it’s unacceptable to pick on kids who are different because of size, looks, race, or religion. In some cases bullying is a part of an ongoing pattern of defiant or aggressive behavior. These kids are likely to need help learning to manage anger and hurt, frustration, or other strong emotions. They may not have the skills they need to cooperate with others. Professional counseling often can help them learn to deal with their feelings, curb their bullying, and improve their social skills. Some kids who bully at school and in settings with their peers are copying behavior that they see at home. Kids who are exposed to aggressive and unkind interactions in the family often learn to treat others the same way. And kids who are on the receiving end of taunting learn that bullying can translate into control over children they perceive as weak.
Helping Kids Stop Bullying.
Let your child know that bullying is unacceptable and that there will be serious consequences at home, school, and in the community if it continues. Try to understand the reasons behind your child’s behavior. In some cases, kids bully because they have trouble managing strong emotions like anger, frustration, or insecurity. In other cases, kids haven’t learned cooperative ways to work out conflicts and understand differences.
Tactics to Try
Be sure to:
•Take bullying seriously. Make sure your kids understand that you will not tolerate bullying at home or anywhere else. Establish rules about bullying and stick to them. If you punish your child by taking away privileges, be sure it’s meaningful. For example, if your child bullies other kids via email, text messages, or a social networking site, dock phone or computer privileges for a period of time. If your child acts aggressively at home, with siblings or others, put a stop to it. Teach more appropriate (and nonviolent) ways to react, like walking away.
•Teach kids to treat others with respect and kindness. Teach your child that it is wrong to ridicule differences (e.g., race, religion, appearance, special needs, gender, and economic status) and try to instill a sense of empathy for those who are different. Consider getting involved together in a community group where your child can interact with kids who are different.
•Learn about your child’s social life. Look for insight into the factors that may be influencing your child’s behavior in the school environment (or wherever the bullying is occurring). Talk with parents of your child’s friends and peers, teachers, guidance counselors, and the school principal. Do other kids bully? What about your child’s friends? What kinds of pressures do the kids face at school? Talk to your kids about those relationships and about the pressures to fit in. Get them involved in activities outside of school so that they meet and develop friendships with other kids.
•Encourage good behavior. Positive reinforcement can be more powerful than negative discipline. Catch your kids being good — and when they handle situations in ways that are constructive or positive, take notice and praise them for it.
•Set a good example. Think carefully about how you talk around your kids and how you handle conflict and problems. If you behave aggressively — toward or in front of your kids — chances are they’ll follow your example. Instead, point out positives in others, rather than negatives. And when conflicts arise in your own life, be open about the frustrations you have and how you cope with your feelings.
Starting at Home
When looking for the influences on your child’s behavior, look first at what’s happening at home. Kids who live with yelling, name-calling, putdowns, harsh criticism, or physical anger from a sibling or parent/caregiver may act that out in other settings. It’s natural — and common — for kids to fight with their siblings at home. And unless there’s a risk of physical violence it’s wise not to get involved. But monitor the name-calling and any physical altercations and be sure to talk to each child regularly about what’s acceptable and what’s not. It’s important to keep your own behavior in check too. Watch how you talk to your kids, and how you react to your own strong emotions when they’re around. There will be situations that warrant discipline and constructive criticism. But take care not to let that slip into name-calling and accusations. If you’re not pleased with your child’s behavior, stress that it’s the behavior that you’d like your child to change, and you have confidence that he or she can do it. If your family is going through a stressful life event that you feel may have contributed to your child’s behavior, reach out for help from the resources at school and in your community. Guidance counselors, pastors, therapists, and your doctor can help.
To help a child stop bullying, talk with teachers, guidance counselors, and other school officials who can help you identify situations that lead to bullying and provide assistance. Your doctor also might be able to help. If your child has a history of arguing, defiance, and trouble controlling anger, consider an evaluation with a therapist or behavioral health professional. As difficult and frustrating as it can be to help kids stop bullying, remember that bad behavior won’t just stop on its own. Think about the success and happiness you want your kids to find in school, work, and relationships throughout life, and know that curbing bullying now is progress toward those goals.
Mobile phone safety for kids
Mobile phone safety for kids
Mobile phones range from the most basic, like those for younger children that can place calls only to restricted numbers, to smartphones that are essentially tiny computers which offer:
- Internet access to social networks such as Facebook, as well as to games, videos and video chat sites, TV shows, music, and applications (apps).
- Use of camera and video that are fun, but also provide opportunity for bullies and others, and enable taking and sharing suggestive photos or videos (known as sexting).
- GPS tracking that makes it possible to pinpoint the location of the phone—and the child. You can use this to monitor where your kids are, but if it is not used carefully, so can others. Furthermore, smartphones may tag a photo (geotagging), revealing precisely where and when it was taken.
Pick a service plan with the functionality and mobile phone safety features that are right for each child. Add features such as text messaging, photo-sharing, or Internet access only when you feel your child is ready to take on each new responsibility. Also, note that if you choose a billed plan, versus a prepaid plan, you can better monitor monthly charges, such as “free” offers with hidden monthly charges.
Agree on what features kids can use
Based on the age and maturity of each child, agree on phone features. Define clear rules for sensible use and the consequences for breaking them. Talk about usage: who they can talk to or text and when, the websites they can visit, and so on. With older kids, discuss cyberbullying and sexting.
From time to time, ask your kids to show you what is on their phones. Periodically re-examine rules as children mature and mobile technologies evolve.
Teach kids safe and responsible phone use
Help kids understand the following:
- Share their phone number only with family and close friends. Do not put it on social network pages, use it to enter contests, or give it to just anyone who asks for it.
- Lock the phone with a PIN that your child keeps secret (even from best friends) to prevent others from snooping or misusing it.
- Don’t say, text, or post anything that would hurt or embarrass someone.
- Don’t make, send, or accept provocative texts, photos, or videos.
- Avoid clicking links in ads, contests, text messages (even from friends) offering free prizes and the like
For more information: Click here
Use of and access to the Internet has exploded over the last ten years. The World Wide Web has enabled us to do things from the comfort of our homes like never before. The Internet can be a useful tool, and lots of fun. When your child goes on line, they can:
- Access educational resources including encyclopedias, journals, and more.
- Obtain up-to-the-minute information on current events.
- Send mail instantly to people around the globe.
- Learn about places around the world and be exposed to other cultures and other points of view.
- Participate in real-time forums on topics of interest.
- Get help with homework through all kinds of references and resources.
- Have fun playing games, sometimes with people thousands of miles away.
The Internet does carry some risks. It is largely unregulated and not all the information on it is accurate. Advertisers market to children just as they do in any media. Your child may have their privacy invaded by some Web sites or individuals they come across online. In addition, there are many sites that contain things inappropriate for children, including pornography, hate speech, and gambling. Finally, criminals can use the Internet with the intent of financially or sexually exploiting kids or harming them in other ways.
Fortunately, there are lots of steps you can take to help your child reap the benefits of the Internet while steering clear of the dangers. Here are some tips:
Teach your children about Internet safety.
- Discuss with your children what kinds of sites you feel are okay for them to explore, and those that are not. Tell them that not all Web sites are friendly and if they encounter a site that makes them feel uncomfortable, they should leave the site immediately. (The “back” button is their friend.)
- Create a screen name for your child to protect their real identity on interactive sites. That way, if they encounter an uncomfortable situation, they need not worry that someone could track them down.
- Tell your children to never reveal personal information over the Internet without your permission.
- Keep passwords secret —including from friends.
- Discourage your child from entering chat rooms. If there is a chat room on a topic your child would like to participate in, enter into the chat room together.
- If your child meets a new “friend” online, have them introduce the friend to you online.
- Do not agree to meet in person anyone “met” in an online chat room. People are often not who they pretend to be online.
- Have your child tell you about anything threatening or uncomfortable that they come across online right away.
- Here are some links for your kids to explore that discuss Internet safety:
Take an active role in your child’s Internet activities.
- Protect your child’s privacy online
- Keep your computer in a common area instead of in your child’s bedroom so you can easily monitor your child’s Internet usage.
- Share an e-mail account with your children so you can keep track of the messages they receive.
- Bookmark your child’s favorite Web sites for easy and convenient access.
- Spend time exploring the Internet together.
Protect your children from objectionable Web sites by preventing their access to them.
- Blocking software blocks access to certain sites based on a “bad site” list composed by the computer owner, Internet Service Provider, or software vender. The manufacturer of the blocking software may provide periodic updates (sometimes for an additional fee). Unfortunately, the number of new Web sites created daily far exceeds the ability of any software company to keep their “bad list” current. Thus, children can still access some sites with adult content.
- Filtering software blocks access to sites with certain key words in the domain name. Unfortunately, many developers of adult sites create domain names that do not contain likely key words and are able to bypass the filtering software. Also, more rudimentary programs will filter out anything with the key letters and may prevent access to informational sites (For example, a site on Essex, England may be blocked because it contains the letters s-e-x.).
- Monitoring and tracking software tracks what sites the user accesses during their time on line. These programs vary keeping a list of Web sites visited to recording every key stoke punched. This type of program monitors Internet use but in itself will not prevent access to any particular sites. Often, the tracking software is bundled with either a blocking or filtering product.
- Special browsers allow access to a limited number of sites, usually dictated by the company producing the browser. Unlike browsers such as Internet Explorer or Netscape that allow access to any Web site on the Internet, these browsers only can access approved sites. They function in a similar manner to blocking software, but are not affected by the creation of new sites.
- Outgoing filter programs prevent personal information such as name, address, and phone number from being sent online.
Remember: the best way to protect your children is to be involved in their lives, pay attention to what they do, and keep the lines of communication open. That said, some of the protection products available are listed below. These products vary greatly in how sophisticated they are. Some software venders provide a subscription service with regular updates of blocked sites (usually for a fee). The best product for you will depend on your needs, and on what computer and operating system you use. Try using parenting and computing magazines and Consumer Reports to compare the different packages available.
Watch for the following warning signs that may indicate your child is getting into trouble online. If you see any of these warning signs, address the issue with your child and track their online activities more closely.
- Your child suddenly turns off the computer when you walk into the room.
- Your child is spending long hours online, especially at night.
- Your child receives calls from people you don’t know, or receives unsolicited gifts in the mail.
- Your child withdraws from family life and is reluctant to discuss Internet activities.
- You find pornography on your child’s computer.
- You find unfamiliar charges on your credit card and phone bills.
Beware of sexual exploitation on the Internet, especially through chat rooms and social-networking sites.
- Chat rooms are Web sites where real-time discussions take place. Many people use these sites to meet new people from across the world and talk about common interests. Unfortunately, pedophiles (adults who are sexually interested in children) have used chat rooms to lure children into calling or meeting them. Criminals may ask children to give out their personal information such as addresses or phone numbers over the Internet. Even if the child does not offer this information, some sex offenders may convince children to call them and, with caller ID, they have instant access to the child’s phone number. Another technique used by sex offenders includes bribing children with gifts, trips, and money in exchange for meeting them. Remember that in chat rooms, people do not always tell the truth about who they are.
- Kids use lots of acronyms and slang when texting, chatting or instant messaging (IM). Keep up on the terms so you can tell what they’re talking about.
- Strongly discourage children from face-to-face meetings with people they have “met” on-line. If they insist on meeting someone they have been in contact with online, call ahead to verify and arrange a meeting together with your child in a public place. Do not invite the online “friend” to your home or give out your address.
- Profile, blog, or social-networking sites (such as Facebook) present the same kinds of risks. These kinds of sites are public and kids should not post anything they wouldn’t want the world to know, anything that could embarrass them in the future or anything that would make it easy for a stranger to find them. In addition, others who post are not always exactly who or what they say they are. Again, make sure your kids know not to agree to meet face-to-face with online “acquaintances” through these sites. Monitor what your kids post online, by looking at their page together with them regularly. The same goes for video network sites like YouTube.
- If you think your child may be a victim, or to report suspicious online activity involving children, you can go to:
- The Cyber Tip Line, or call 1-800-843-5678.
Have fun with your children. Using the Internet can be most enjoyable (and safe!) if you spend time together at the computer as a family. Bookmark these favorite sites so they’re easy for your kids to find next time.
Here are some kid-safe search engines to use:
- Ask for KIDS (formerly called AskJeevesforKids.com) offers information handpicked by an editorial staff and geared toward kids ages 7 to 14. Only G-rated pages and those written specifically for children are included in search results.
- Yahoo!KIDS is aimed at kids ages 7 to 12 and is among the oldest kids’ search engines. It is staffed by educational professionals and former teachers who review every site in the directory.
Here are just a few fun Web sites to get you started:
- America’s Story from the Library of Congress has truly fascinating stories to explore. This is a great family site.
- The Exploratorium – The Web site of the San Francisco museum of science, art, and human perception. Includes interactive activities and video segments.
- The National Gallery of Art kids’ page has neat art-related activities for kids.
- Sesame Workshop – created by the Children’s Television Workshop. This Web site has activities for kids as well as useful parenting advice.
- At PBS Kids, children can play games based on popular PBS TV shows.
- Funbrain – this site contains educational online computer games for school-aged kids.
- KidsHealth is a site with specific health information geared toward kids, teens, and parents.
- Mr. Dowling’s Electronic Passport —a cool social studies site by a Florida teacher.
- The Yuckiest Site on the Internet —this site answers questions on a wide range of “yucky” topics from worms to ear wax.
- Refdesk provides access to many sources of current information from news to weather to history.
- The Internet Public Library—KidSpace
- The Internet Public Library—TeenSpace
- The Green Hour is a project of the National Wildlife Federation. It exists to give parents and caregivers the information, tools, and inspiration to get their kids — and themselves – outside. The website has lots of family-friendly content and hosts a supportive virtual community where families can learn, explore, and share their outdoor experiences and backyard adventures.
- More Cool Sites for Kids from the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC)
To find more information, Click here
Child Struggling in School
Wherever there is a child struggling in school, the odds are there are parents struggling to figure out how to find the most effective help for that child.
Some kids find themselves falling behind their peers, despite a lot of effort, because they are frustrated by learning disorders. Some fall behind because they have a hard time focusing on learning, or making an organized effort to get homework done.
Some of the kids who are struggling will get the support they need to succeed from specialists at school, in the classroom or in sessions outside of class. But many, many parents each year find themselves looking for help after school.
That’s where things can get confusing: Are you looking for a tutor, a homework helper, or an educational therapist? That depends on what your child needs.
ETs have a range of specialized training, but they all work one-on-one with children on learning challenges. READ MORE
If your youngster is failing in one particular subject, a tutor might be the way to go. It’s easy to understand what a tutor is and does: she is knowledgeable in a particular subject area, and she can bolster a child’s success in that subject by filling in background information your child might have missed, and offering more explanation and practice to help the student acquire the necessary skills.
If your child’s challenge isn’t a particular subject, but trouble setting down and tackling the work itself, a homework helper might be the ticket. A homework helper does just that: help with homework by providing structure and support. Many, if not most, parents fill that role for their kids, being present and providing back-up when kids get confused or unfocused.
But when children have unusual difficulty with the work, and homework becomes a major area of conflict, having a professional homework helper on the case can be a big relief for both parents and kids. It’s not a form of therapy, notes Dr. Matthew Cruger, senior director of the Child Mind Institute’s Learning and Development Center, but the result can be therapeutic: Helping a child succeed at homework without involving mom or dad can remove a lot of stress from the whole family’s evening.
For a child who has serious learning issues, an educational therapist works with him not so much to get the homework done as to strengthen the skills he needs to be able to keep up. Educational therapists come to the task with a range of professional backgrounds, from special education to speech and language therapy to psychology. What they have in common is that they come to understand an individual child’s learning style, and then help him develop skills and strategies that will enable him to build on strengths and compensate for weaknesses.
For a child with dyslexia, for instance, that would mean help with reading, as well as strategies for compensating for that difficulty with reading. For a child whose challenge is focusing on learning, the therapist would help with strategies for getting started, for organizing a project, for remembering information, for practicing skills. Educational therapists recognize that kids who have been falling behind in school are often discouraged and anxious, so their mission is to build a child’s confidence along with her skills. Information from: Click here
Supervision is essential to make sure your child is safe and as parents we know and understand the importance of caring for our children. The state of MN has set laws about required supervision of children.
Children age 7 and under need to have adult supervision at all times. Children under 7 may never be left alone for any amount of time and for any reason; this includes being left sleeping in a car, napping at home, or playing in the yard, Children ages 8-10 can be left alone for up to 3 hours, Children ages 11-13 can be left alone for up to 12 hours, Children ages 14-15 can be left alone for up to 24 hours. Children 16-17 can be occasionally be left home alone for more than 24 hours if they can reach an adult for an emergency.
Decisions about leaving children without adult supervision should always include an emergency plan for the child as well as is dependent on if any special needs of the child or situation they are involved in at the time. An extremely cold evening with a faulty furnace may not be a time to leave your teenager home alone. A child with a developmental disability or mental health condition may require more supervision than listed previously.
Children providing supervision to other children also require special attention to needs are circumstances. Children under the age of 11 should not ever provide child care. Children 11-17 in a supervisory role should only be in the role within the same time frames listed for their ages.
These guidelines are set to keep children out of child protection and as safe as possible!
SEXUAL EXPLOITATION & SEX TRAFFICKING is HERE in MN.
You can help.
- ASK about immediate needs: food, clothing, sleep
- REPORT to Child Protection or call 911
- CONNECT with Central Minnesota Safe Harbor Team 24/7 #1.866.824.3770
POSSIBLE RED FLAGS
- Lack of eye contact
- Clothing is brand new or not appropriate
- Anxious, hostile, withdrawn, submissive
- Bruises, scars, burn marks, tattoos
- Significantly older “boyfriend” or “daddy”
- A “sister” or “cousin” who is controlling
- Unclear or coached responses to basic questions (age, where they live, school, travel)
- Does not know what city they are in
- Loss of sense of time
- Inconsistent stories, sketchy explanation of relationships
- Prepaid cards
- Motel/ Hotel keys
- Sex paraphernalia (condoms/lingerie)
- Multiple cell phones