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Getting to School Safely

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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.'"

The contract should outline driving rules, how to deal with distractions, use of cell phones and CD players, and limits on the number of passengers in the car, "a major source of trouble," Wisely says. "Friends in the car are a distraction. I don't think it's a good idea when they've just started driving. Maybe later on, after they've had some experience driving, they can pick up one friend."

Also, teens that can't get out of bed in the morning tend to drive faster to get to school on time. Wisely has a solution. "I advise parents to put this in the rules: that if they're going drive to school, they must leave by certain time or they don't drive. Either the parent drives them, or they just don't go to school. People are shocked. But parents have to ask themselves, 'What's at stake?' It could mean burying their own child."

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