TYLER, Texas — While the school year might be almost over, research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows important safety skills need to be taught to children five to 10 times a year.
Andy Erbaugh with the Tyler Police Department said the most important thing to teach kids is to stay aware of their surroundings.
"Kids can't always be with other kids and sometimes kids are at the bus stop by themselves," he said. "The child just needs to be aware of their surroundings and make sure they know where they can go if there's an emergency."
Tips to help your child stay safe:
- Teach your child at least one of their parent’s cell phone numbers. Practice until they can recite the number by heart and have your child practice dialing the number on a real phone.
- Tell your child what to do if they encounter someone on the way home from school that makes them feel uncomfortable. Make sure they know how to get away, find help, and keep themselves safe. Walk the route with your child and identify neighbors that your child can to for help in an emergency.
- Make sure your child knows that they can and should talk to you about any incident out of the ordinary on the way home.
- Review who will pick your child up in case of an emergency. Limit this list as much as possible to yourself, your child’s co-parent, and one other trusted adult. Let your child know they are never to leave school or get in a car with someone they do not know.
- Tell your child that you will always let them know beforehand if there is a change in school pick up or how they will get home and that any changes must be discussed with you first (e.g. if they want to go to another child’s home at the end of the day).
- Review these safety skills often. Research from the NHTSA shows that these skills need to be taught five to ten times a year. Review them during car rides and other moments together.
Erbaugh encourages people to contact the police if they encounter anyone suspicious.