As kids go back to school, North Carolina’s State Attorney General says parents should consider potential safety risks facing their children – and the fact that some of those risks come with evolving technology. WHQR’s Rachel Lewis Hilburn has counsel from Roy Cooper on simple steps parents can take to safeguard their kids.
Cooper’s first piece of advice to parents: sign up for email alerts on registered sex offenders. They’ll tell you when a sex offender moves near your home or your child’s school or daycare.
Talk with your kids about stranger danger, says Cooper, especially on the Internet. Think twice about your child’s age and maturity before you allow them to use social networking sites. Cooper says parents should talk to teens about the risks of posting inappropriate messages or embarrassing photos online.
Ground rules for cell phone use are just as important, says the Attorney General, because they’re another pathway to the Internet.
And remind teens that drivers who use their cell phones while behind the wheel are four times more likely to crash.
More advice from Attorney General Roy Cooper:
- Check to make sure your child’s school has a current safety plan. Ask if they’ve put together a Critical Incident Response Kit or similar protocol, which should contain everything a school needs to respond to a crisis, like blueprints, keys, rosters and emergency plans. Cooper’s office helped distribute the kits to all North Carolina schools. Ask if teachers have been trained and what you should do as a parent if a crisis occurs at school.
- Make sure your child’s school, day care and after school activities screen their employees including background checks. Visit and get to know the people who spend time with your children.
- Update your list of emergency contacts and give a current copy to your child’s school and any after-school programs. Make sure that everyone on the list knows key information, such as how to get to your child’s school, your pediatrician’s name and number, alarm codes for your house, etc.
- Ask the school to notify you if your child doesn’t arrive at school, and let the school know who is authorized to pick up your child. Make sure your children know who would pick them up in case of an emergency or if you aren’t able to.
· Make sure young children know their full name, parent’s name, address and phone number. You may also want to consider getting an ID card from the NC Division of Motor Vehicles for your child to carry.
· Be careful to protect your child’s identifying information, like Social Security numbers, from strangers. Identity thieves will use an unsuspecting child’s information to open credit lines without parents’ knowledge. Only give identifying information when necessary, and when you do, ask how it will be used and protected.
· Talk to school staff about Internet safety, too. Computers can be a wonderful learning tool, and many children now have access to the Internet in classrooms and school libraries. Ask your child’s school how they protect their students when they go online, and let them know that Internet safety tools for teachers are also available at www.ncdoj.gov.
· Encourage your children to talk to you about anything that makes them feel scared, threatened, or uncomfortable. Remind your kids not to condone or participate in bullying behavior. Teach your kids which trustworthy adults (such as grandparents, teachers, school resource officers, a neighbor you know and trust) they can also turn to when they need help.
Sign up for email alerts on registered sex offenders by clicking on this link:
Check for registered sex offenders in your area by following this link: