You’ve probably noticed some changes in your communities over the past several weeks: yellow buses are in the mix of morning commuters; significantly fewer children are out and about during the day; store shelves fill with a myriad of school supplies, only to quickly empty again. Yes, once again, school is back in session; and safety is back on the agenda for parents and educators alike.
A quality education goes hand-in-hand with the provision of healthy and safe environments in which our children can learn and excel. We’ve heard a great deal about H1N1 prevention and care already this year, but as much as we emphasize this health risk, we must equally stress the importance of school safety. Are you aware that nearly two-thirds of all deaths among children and adolescents result from injury-related causes, many of them preventable? Awareness of the types of injuries that can occur in schools is the first step to prevention.
Roughly 55 million students just began again their commute to U.S. classrooms, so our first assignment must be to get them safely to and from school. Motor vehicle injuries are the leading cause of death among children in the United States. These deaths can be prevented. For example, if your children walk to school, be sure they know basic pedestrian safety rules. And, since teens have a particularly high crash risk, getting informed about teen driving can help parents counsel their young drivers about the risks and responsibilities of getting behind the wheel.
Of course, arriving at school safely is just the beginning. Before children can fully focus on their education, they must first feel they are in a safe and healthy environment in the classroom and on the playing field. Informed parents and educators can help and encourage children to develop healthy relationships and learn to manage conflict, anger and jealousy without violence. As a society, we should all be attentive to signs of bullying, as it often takes root in our schools and has harmful, long-term consequences for both victim and perpetrator.
To help spread the word about the importance of these and other school safety concerns, we encourage you to add our School Safety Banner to your website, providing a direct link to CDC Injury Center information. Join us in keeping our children and our schools safe throughout the year. It’s important that we work together to ensure that every child in every community can live to their full potential.