It’s that time of year again! Back-to-school season is in full swing. As parents are focusing on gathering school supplies and planning morning routines, it’s important not to forget that more children are hit by cars near schools than any other location.
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For most counties in Texas, students went back to school in August. Teachers, parents, and kids of all ages likely geared up for the summer to fall transition for weeks.
Returning to school not only means getting back in the classroom, but also the return to playgrounds, gymnasiums, forms of travel, and sports. While recess and extracurricular activities are often referred to as the “fun” part of school for many, they are also the setting for the potential of numerous accidents and injuries.
According to research conducted by the National SAFE KIDS Campaign (NSKC), an estimated 2.2 million children ages 14 and younger sustain school related injuries each year.
Many of these unintentional injuries are often caused by negligence, such as lack of adequate teacher supervision or poorly maintained facilities. In fact, lack of supervision is associated with 40 percent of playground injuries.
Among elementary school students, playgrounds are associated with the majority of injuries, and for secondary school students, athletics — including both physical education classes and organized sports — account for most injuries.
School bus-related accidents, often involving child pedestrians, also account for many injuries.
Common causes of these accidents and injuries include:
Failure to regularly maintain school equipment and facilities
Failure to properly train school staff to supervise children and administer emergency first aid and CPR when necessary
Asphalt, concrete, grass, and soil surfaces under playground equipment, as opposed to loose-fill materials such as shredded rubber, mulch, and fine sand
Failure to ensure children play on age-appropriate playground equipment
Failure to use appropriate safety equipment for sports activities
Failure to group children according to skill level, size, and physical maturity, especially for contact sports
A school bus driver’s failure to see children attempting to enter or exit the bus
Other drivers’ failure to obey school bus stop signs
Too often, parents and teachers blame children’s injuries on children’s behavior rather than their surroundings; however, budget cuts and overcrowding in Texas schools may not only diminish the quality of education received by students, but also may affect the safety and integrity of the environment in which they learn and interact.
By holding schools accountable for student accidents, concerned parents can help ensure schools take proper measures to protect children from injuries in the future.
It’s that time of year again: back-to-school season! And that means early morning traffic has increased for those headed off to work each day.
Knowing this, and the risk increase posed to children can give parents an extra dose of anxiety. Thankfully, there are ways parents can protect their children from bus accidents, car accidents, bicycle accidents, and pedestrian accidents during the school months.
Back-to-School Bus Safety
Although accidents on school buses are relatively rare, children have an elevated risk of injury when they must cross in front of the bus.
Unfortunately, not all cars abide by the law, which is to stop when the bus signals them to do so. To protect your children, teach them to only cross in front of the bus when necessary. Children should walk at least ten steps in front of the driver – or only when they can see the bus driver in their seat.
Furthermore, children should never pass behind the bus.
Back-to-School Bicycle Safety
Children who ride a bike to school should never do so without a helmet. Furthermore, encourage kids to always take the same route – preferably one that has been planned by you in advance and avoid crossing intersections as much as possible.
It is never a bad idea for parents to refresh their children on basic bicycle safety; e.g., stopping at stop signs, riding with traffic instead of against it, riding in a bike lane when available, etc.
Back-to-School Pedestrian Safety
Although walking is a wonderful way to ensure your child receives exercise during the day, it can be extremely dangerous for young children to walk to school alone.
As such, small children should be accompanied by an adult on their way to school.
Older children should always travel the same route and should avoid intersections as much as possible. You may also wish to refresh your child on the importance of alertness as a pedestrian; i.e., not using their cell phone while walking).
Back-to-School Driving Safety
Teen drivers have an overall higher rate of experiencing an accident.
To help mitigate against it, parents are encouraged to enforce and encourage safe driving behaviors.
Examples include never using a cell phone behind the wheel, not driving with extra passengers in the vehicle, following all traffic signals, and watching for buses, bicyclists, and pedestrians while on the way to school. Parents can increase their awareness on their child’s driving behavior with a phone app or a device that plugs into the teen’s vehicle.