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With back-to-school in full swing across Colorado, the staff at the Colorado School Safety Resource Center within the Department of Public Safety put their heads together to come up with a top-10 list of safety tips for starting the new school year.

“We take a look at school safety from a whole-person, whole-community perspective,” said Colorado School Safety Resource Center Director Chris Harms. “Our recommendations include the physical safety of students, but also their emotional, mental, and social safety and wellbeing. Creating a trusting environment where students feel connected, welcome, and protected is one of the most powerful things we can do to ensure their safety.”

Top-10 Back-to-School Safety Tips

  • For parents: Check backpacks to be sure students are taking appropriate items to school.
  • Together: Review safety rules about bodily autonomy and consent, not just to protect your child, but to help them understand about touching others. (Children 10 and up may be charged with criminal conduct, so your child needs to understand about welcome and unwelcome touch, as well as the illegality of sharing explicit images, before then.)
  • Together: Have a conversation about the risks of personally identifying information on the web, with specific examples. (In addition to name, address, phone and sensitive ID numbers, young children should also be instructed not to “advertise” their school or team, which could reveal their location.)
  • Together: Review crosswalk safety. Vehicle traffic may be extra hectic for the first few weeks at the bus stops and intersections on the way to school. Practice walking the route with them if they walk to school.
  • Together: Review school safety procedures: If you are aware of your school’s or district’s safety precautions, review them together, answer any questions and allow your student to vocalize their questions and concerns. This will help prevent surprises and ease any concerns your child might have.
  • For students: Think of two things you can say as a way to join a table of students at lunch, or to include a student who looks like they want to join in.
  • For students: If you see or hear scary or threatening behavior/words, please tell a trusted adult in the school. It’s not snitching, it’s making sure everyone is safe.
  • For staff: Think about different ways to make everyone feel welcome. Research confirms that little things like greeting students at the door actually increases academic success.
  • For staff: take the extra time to problem-solve with students who show up lost or confused. Even if they are not listed on your roster.  As stressed as you may be when faced with an overcrowded classroom, lost students are even more in a panic when they are in an unfamiliar setting. Connect before you correct.
  • For staff: please take all drills and exercises seriously.  Your students are watching and will take their cues from you.

Contributors to this top-10 list included:

A licensed former school psychologist
An expert in child sexual abuse prevention
A former teacher, counselor, and mental health and crisis coordinator
The director of the Colorado School Safety Resource Center.

Featured image: Avery Parsons Elementary School in Buena Vista welcomed back students in 2021. Photo by Tara Flanagan.