Weekly Feature

2015-09-02 / Editorial

Make safety, well-being of youth a priority

Streets will soon be filled with yellow buses and thousands of children toting books, brown lunch bags and backpacks.

As school resumes, we should take it upon ourselves as responsible parents and citizens to be more mindful of the physical safety of children.

Children should have a safe place to wait for their bus, away from traffic and the street. Whenever possible, children should walk to the bus stop with an adult or friend. Drivers are required to follow certain rules of the road concerning school buses, but not all do.

Also, younger children should not wear pants or jackets with long drawstrings that could become caught in the bus door.

Parents: Do not allow your children to listen to an iPod or play a handheld video game while walking to school or the bus stop. This can distract them from their surroundings. It may seem obvious, but children and pedestrians should never walk behind a bus because the bus driver may not know they are there.

Anyone driving a car must also exercise caution around school buses and school zones. When backing out of a driveway or leaving a garage, watch out for children walking or bicycling to school. Follow the reduced speed limit signs when approaching a school. Drivers must slow down for school zones between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. weekdays unless alternative times are indicated on the signs.

Be alert to the lights on a bus. Yellow flashing lights indicate that the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children. Motorists should also slow down and prepare to stop their vehicles. Red flashing lights and extended stop arms indicate that the bus has come to rest and that children are getting on or off. Again, motorists must also stop their cars and wait until the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop sign is withdrawn and the bus begins moving before they can start driving again.

Let’s also remember that just because children have made a safe trip to and from school does not mean our responsibility as community members is through.

Those of us who are not educators or parents should also make an effort to act as positive role models for the youth in our community. Consider the way you interact with children at your job, at the store, park, library, doctor’s office, etc. Perhaps by taking an interest in what children are doing and treating them with the same respect we would show another adult, we can encourage positive social skills and discourage behaviors such as bullying.

After all, how can we expect children to act responsibly if we don’t?

Return to top