Back to School

Back to School

Years ago, when my kids were young and I was the head of the PTA Health and Safety committee at Little Tor Elementary School, one of my jobs was to stress the importance of bus and pedestrian safety for both children and adults. Now, as County Executive, I’m continuing this effort. Schools across Rockland are about to open, and it’s a good time to review basic safety information for both young people and adults to keep them safe on our local roadways.

The first lesson is obvious but it is one that bears repeating; drivers must stop behind a stopped school bus and wait until the bus’s red light is off before going. Always watch for children. Our local police departments do frequent spot checks to make sure this law is being enforced. Don’t risk getting a ticket which comes with significant penalties five points on your license and a hefty fine. Even worse, you could injure or kill a child getting on or off a school bus.

Drivers and pedestrians both still have a lot of work to do to be more aware of each other. Follow the tips below and share them with your children, so we can make the roads a safer place.

Pedestrians should:

  • Cross at intersections and marked crosswalks
  • Obey signals
  • Wear visible clothing during nighttime travel
  • Pay attention!

Drivers should:

  • Obey the speed limit
  • Stop for pedestrians at crosswalks and intersections
  • Pay attention! Don’t text while driving
  • Expect pedestrians

But safety these days is about much more than just maintaining awareness; cyber security has become almost as important as physical security. Watch out for too good to be true software and device sales. If a Facebook ad is promising you a brand-new Mac laptop for $200, chances are it’s a scam. Think long and hard before sharing personal information on something that appears too good to be true.

Ensure that your children’s devices have security software and tools installed. Cyberattacks can come from all sides these days, so it pays to have software protecting your and your child’s computer, phone or tablet. Another way to keep them safe is by teaching them to lock their computer or device if they move away from it. This is another way to prevent others from snooping around and looking at files they should not be looking at.

However, the most important advice I have to share with you is this. Teach your children to be aware, to look around and pay attention to what’s happening near them. Unfortunately, schools are targets. 20 years ago, we had to overcome significant bureaucratic and even some parental resistance to common sense measures such as identification cards for school staff, visitor sign ins, identifying oneself to the school record in order to pick up a child, single point of access to a school and video cameras. Today this is not only the norm; it is the expectation.

We need to understand that evil exists and our young people are rightfully expecting that those in authority do what needs be done to protect them from that evil. The time is long past for a discussion and action designed to actually give our children a fighting chance should an active shooter breach a school.

Tags: safety

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