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Children's Health

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Getting to School Safely

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But if your child is ready to walk it alone, here are some more tips:

  • Choose the safest route and walk it with your child a few times.
  • Teach your child to recognize and obey all traffic signals and markings.
  • Make sure your child looks in all directions before crossing the street.
  • Teach your child not to enter the street from between parked cars or from behind bushes or shrubs.
  • Teach your child to cross the street at the corner or crosswalk.
  • Warn your child to be extra alert in bad weather.

Neighborhood safety is another issue, says Kellie Foster, spokesperson for the National Crime Prevention Center in Washington. "It's a good idea for neighbors to get together, to keep an eye out for reach other," Foster tells WebMD. "It's one of the simplest ways to encourage safety. ... A child should know that they can go to any responsible adult -- a police officer, crossing guard, mailman -- if they do not feel safe."

Encourage your child to walk to and from the bus stop with a friend. And make sure you and your child know each other's schedule. "That reduces fear and provides peace of mind for both of you," Foster says.

As for kids who ride bikes to school, these are the SAFE KIDS safety tips:

  • Wear bike helmets at all times when bicycling.
  • Follow the rules of the road.
  • Never let your child on the road without direct adult supervision until age 10.
  • Plan a safe cycling route with your child and ride it with them.
  • Do not ride at night.
  • Make sure schools provide cyclists with "safe areas" for bike racks.

But if it's a teenager you're dealing with, chances are the issue of driving to school has raised its head. Dale Wisely, PhD, a psychologist in Birmingham, Ala., has ushered many families through this phase.

He advocates developing a contract with your teen. "It's one way of signaling to teenagers that you take [driving] very seriously," he tells WebMD. "Be willing to say 'we don't care what other kids, other parents do.'"

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