Not long ago, it seemed that the biggest safety concerns facing kids were running with scissors and getting a marble stuck up their nose.
Today, parents need to address serious issues like bullying and gun safety.
During National Safe Kids Week, April 21 – 28 (www.safekids.org), Polyclinic pediatrician Dr. Melissa Hathaway is offering tips for keeping kids safe from both every day threats to health and safety, and the life threatening issues of the day.
Review Safety Often
As a pediatrician, Dr. Hathaway reminds parents to review safety issues often to keep up with their growing and changing child. “Make it a habit,” advises Dr. Hathaway. “One of the reasons children have accidents is because they develop so fast that caregivers have a hard time keeping up.”
She recommends that parents and caregivers think about safety in terms of age and by situation – “at home, at play, as school, and on the go.”
Dr. Hathaway points out that as a community, we all have a duty to protect children from two of the biggest dangers: guns and bullying.
“Sadly, there have been several recent gun-related tragic events in the Northwest, says Dr. Hathaway. “The best way to keep your children safe from injury or death from guns is to never have a gun in the home, car, or anywhere your child has access to.
Talk to your children about the dangers of guns and what to do if they find themselves in a situation involving a gun.”
While parents may take every precaution at home, they should not forget to find out if there are guns in the homes where their children play.
“It can be hard for a parent or caregiver to ask about guns,” she points out. “One way to ask is, ‘My child is very curious. Do you have guns or anything dangerous that he might get into?’”
She suggests that for those who do choose to keep a gun in the home, always keep the gun unloaded and locked. “Also lock up bullets and store them in a separate place, and make sure to hide the keys to the locked boxes. Children are naturally curious, and their innate urge to discover new things can overcome any parent’s warnings.”
Bullying is becoming increasingly common and can be a deadly problem. Bullying is defined as unwanted, aggressive behavior that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated over time.
“Anyone and everyone can help prevent bullying by talking about it, promoting a safe environment, modeling respectful behavior and treating others with kindness,” says Dr. Hathaway. “Talk to kids about what bullying is, what they should do if they see it happening, and how to stand up to kids who bully. Know the warning signs, talk about it, and intervene immediately if you see bullying behavior.”
It can be overwhelming for a parent or caregiver to keep track of all the risks inside and outside the home. “Enlist the help of your family, friends and community to endure your child is safe wherever they go,” says Dr. Hathaway.
There are a variety of websites dedicated to education and awareness regarding safety in childhood and beyond.
Dr. Hathaway recommends:
- The American Academy of Pediatrics HealthyChildren.Org website.
- Washington State Medical Association webpage on bullying: www.wsma.org/patient_resources/bullying.cfm