Back to School Security and Safety Tips for Students and their Parents
 
Parents and guardians should review these "do's" and "don'ts" with their youngsters as they head back to the classroom. While a number of things certainly differ from elementary school to high school to college, most of the following apply to students of all ages:
 
If you walk to or from school, walk with confidence and pay attention to your surroundings, especially the traffic around you. Don't daydream!
 
Don't walk alone. Use the "buddy system" and walk with one or more friends when you're outside.
 
When walking outdoors, identify stores, telephones, well-lit locations and other potential areas of safety or refuge. Stay on well-lighted, busy streets and away from shrubs, dark doorways, and alleys where people can hide. Plan a safe route away from vacant lots, alleys, railroad tracks and construction sites.  Take the long way if it is the safest way to go.
 
Because it is better to be safe than sorry, tell the nearest teacher, police officer, or trustworthy adult if you feel uncomfortable or unsafe. Let them assist and advise you, even if you are not sure whether or not there is a genuine cause for alarm. 
 
üIf you go back to an empty house or apartment after school, lock the door behind you and don't let strangers in. Let your parents or guardians know when you've arrived home. Inform them where you'll be after school, whom you will be with, and when you plan to return home. If you will be late or if your plans change, inform them of this, too. 
 
üIf you get picked up from school, make sure you know who is supposed to drive you home. Never accept rides from strangers, even if the stranger knows your name or says that he or she knows your family. 
 
If you see a car following you, turn and walk in the other direction.
 
Do not walk up to the car if someone asks for directions.
 
Don't be fooled by someone asking you to help him or her find a dog or other "lost" animal.
üIf you have to run, DROP THE BACKPACK and seek assistance!
 
 
Know how to contact your parent or guardian in the event of an emergency.  If you cannot reach your parent or guardian, contact another trusted family member such as a grandparent, aunt, or uncle, or a close family friend who has been selected by your parent or guardian as an alternate contact in case of an emergency.
Parents and guardians should follow these safety / security tips:
 
Always keep a recent photograph of your child available. Have your child fingerprinted. (Note that you may keep the fingerprints to yourself until you wish to release them to law enforcement if an incident occurs.)
 
Be sure that the school has up-to-date personal information regarding your child including current address, emergency contacts, telephone numbers, and valid court orders. (Ensure that any court orders, such as restraining orders, are on file with the local police.)
 
Be sure that your child knows how to dial 911 for emergency assistance, and to stay on the line until the operator says it's OK to hang up.
 
Be sure your child knows to say "No" very loudly if someone tries to touch them inappropriately, to run from this individual, and to report such incidents promptly to a trustworthy adult (parent, guardian, teacher, or police officer).
 
Keep lines of communication open. Talk to your child about safety in his or her school. Ask where in school he/she feels most safe and least safe, and why.  Share your thoughts with your child. Your child should feel comfortable to share his or her safety/security ideas and concerns with you, and with at least one adult at school. Address your safety/ security concerns with the teacher or school administration, as appropriate.
 
Talk with your child about the risks associated with the use of drugs and alcohol.
 
Changes in your child's behavior may be a sign of a problem.  For example, signs of low self-esteem or being withdrawn may be the result of bullying either in school or on the way to school.
 
Be familiar with the emergency plan for your child's school and know how to contact your child in the event of an emergency, especially if your child does not carry a cell phone.
 
For students who are away at school or college:
 
Take precautions when walking on campus, especially after dark. Learn the location of emergency telephones, "blue light" call boxes, and campus security personnel.
 
Don't walk alone, especially at night. Walk with one or more acquaintances, or have a security officer escort you.
 
Day or night, avoid the display of valuables, such as cash, jewelry, I-Pods, or portable computers. Carry a purse close to your body, not dangling by the straps, and keep a firm grip on it.  Carry a wallet in an inside coat or front trouser pocket.
 
Know the location of the campus Safety and Security Office and know how to contact help during any hour of the day or night.
 
Consider carrying a shriek alarm or whistle.
 
Never hitchhike.
üIf you bike or jog at night, do so with a friend and wear reflective clothing. Leave your headphones in your dorm room.  You need to be alert to what is going on around you!
 
Always keep your dorm room door locked even when just visiting next door.
 
Get a lock for your laptop and/or desktop computer.
 
Know how to evacuate in an emergency.  How many doors to the nearest exit?  You may have to feel your way to safety.
 
üPromote your safety, as well as everyone else's, by reporting activities that appear suspicious or dangerous. Promptly report all security-related incidents, such as thefts, vandalism, assaults, and break-ins.
 
Be alert to your surroundings and cognizant of persons in front of and behind you.  Don't be distracted.
 
Communicate the message that you're calm, confident, and know where you're going.
 
Trust your instincts.  If you feel uncomfortable in a place or situation, leave.
 
Keep your cell phone with you in case of an emergency.
 
The legal drinking age in the United States is 21.  Do not accept a beverage from a stranger.  When you attend parties, keep your drink in your possession at all times until you are finished consuming it.  This will help prevent becoming a victim of date rape drugs and date rape.
 
Do not divulge your ATM PIN to anyone.  Be aware if someone is too close to you when it is your turn to use the ATM.  Move to another ATM rather than risk a stranger "shoulder surfing" to acquire your PIN.
 
Use a credit card judiciously and keep your credit card secured when not in your possession.  Shred unsolicited credit card offers that you receive in the mail to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft.
 
Do not divulge your credit information or Social Security Number to unauthorized individuals.  Beware of online and telephone scams.  If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
 
Students and parents should review the school's or college's emergency plan and know how to contact each other in case of an emergency, especially if the students do not have cellular telephones of their own.  In the event that primary contact fails, each student and his/her parent or guardian should contact the alternate emergency contact.  For the parent or guardian, this will probably be a designated school official; for the student, this will probably be a trusted relative or friend that has been selected by the student's parent or guardian.
 
Students and parents should review the school's or college's most recent annual security report to become familiar with and to discuss security-related incidents.  If further information is needed regarding the content of the report, contact the school's Security Director.  If an annual security report is not available, find out why.
 
 


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