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TIPS FROM THE AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS

Backpack safety

- Choose a backpack with wide, padded shoulder straps and a padded back.

- Pack light. Organize the backpack to use all of its compartments. Pack heavier items closest to the center of the back. The backpack should never weigh more than 10 to 20 percent of your child’s body weight.

- Always use both shoulder straps. Slinging a backpack over one shoulder can strain muscles.

- If your school allows, consider a rolling backpack. This type of backpack may be a good choice for students who must tote a heavy load. Remember that rolling backpacks still must be carried up stairs, and they may be difficult to roll in snow.

School bus safety

- If your child’s school bus has lap/shoulder seat belts, make sure your child uses one at all times when in the bus. If your child’s school bus does not have lap/shoulder belts, encourage the school to buy or lease buses with lap/shoulder belts.

- Wait for the bus to stop before approaching it from the curb.

- Do not move around on the bus.

- Check to see that no other traffic is coming before crossing the street.

- Make sure to always remain in clear view of the bus driver.

- Children should always board and exit the bus at locations that provide safe access to the bus or to the school building.

Walking safety

- Make sure your child's walk to a school is a safe route with well-trained adult crossing guards at every intersection.

- Be realistic about your child's pedestrian skills. Because small children are impulsive and less cautious around traffic, carefully consider whether or not your child is ready to walk to school without adult supervision.

- If your children are young or are walking to a new school, walk with them the first week or until you are sure they know the route and can do it safely.

- Bright-colored clothing will make your child more visible to drivers.

- In neighborhoods with higher levels of traffic, consider starting a “walking school bus,” in which an adult accompanies a group of neighborhood children walking to school.

If your child is bullied

- Help your child learn how to respond by teaching your child how to:
1. Look the bully in the eye.
2. Stand tall and stay calm in a difficult situation.
3. Walk away.

- Teach your child how to say in a firm voice:
1. "I don't like what you are doing."
2. "Please do NOT talk to me like that."
3. "Why would you say that?"

- Teach your child when and how to ask for help.

- Encourage your child to make friends with other children.

- Support activities that interest your child.

- Alert school officials to the problems and work with them on solutions.

- Make sure an adult who knows about the bullying can watch out for your child's safety and well-being when you cannot be there.

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GateHouse News Service