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Tioga Public Health issues safety tips for SouthernTier students returning to school

Students will return to the classrooms this week in the Southern Tier of New York. Tioga County Public Health has issued these safety reminders, so everyone can have a safe and healthy school year.

Walking to School Safely
 Be visible at all times – wear bright colored clothing or reflective materials.
 Use sidewalks if available; if not available, walk facing traffic and as far from traffic as possible.
 Children under 10 years old should be accompanied by someone who will make sure they are safe.
 Whenever possible, cross streets at crosswalks or intersections.
o If not available, locate a well-lit area with the best view of traffic, and wait for a gap in traffic that allows enough time to cross safely. Continue watching for traffic while crossing.
 Never assume a driver is paying attention – make eye contact with drivers as they approach.
 Watch for cars entering or exiting driveways, backing up in parking lots, and turning.

Biking to School Safely
 Always wear a helmet that fits properly. Securely fasten the chin strap.
 Ride in the same direction as traffic. Follow traffic signs and signals.
 Stay in the bike lane whenever possible. Use the sidewalk appropriately and keep an eye out for others.
 Choose the safest bike route from home to school.
 Don’t use electronics while riding – it’s important to keep eyes and ears on the road.

School Bus Safety
 Students are 70 times more likely to get to school safely when taking a school bus instead of traveling by car.
 Wait for the bus to come to a complete stop, for the door to open, and for the driver to say it’s okay before approaching the bus door.
 Never walk behind a school bus. If necessary, cross the street, walk on a sidewalk or along the side of the street to a place at least 5 giant steps (10 feet) in front of the bus before crossing.

Immunizations
 Make sure children are up-to-date on their vaccinations before they go back to school.
 Immunizations are a safe and effective way to protect everyone from communicable diseases.

Rethinking “Stranger Danger”
 “Stranger danger” ignores that fact that most children are abducted by someone they know.
 When talking about abduction prevention, don’t focus on warning about certain types of people; instead, teach identifying and responding to threatening situations.
o For example, instead of saying, “Stay away from people you don’t know,” say “It’s important for you to get my permission before going anywhere with anyone.”

Playground Safety
 Never push or roughhouse while on playground equipment.
 Use equipment properly – slide feet first, don’t climb outside guardrails, don’t stand on swings, etc.
 Always check to make sure no other kids are in the way when going down a slide, or using the swings.
 Never use playground equipment that is wet because the moisture makes the surfaces slippery.
 Check playground equipment to see if it is too hot to play on. If the equipment feels hot to the touch, it’s not safe to play on.

Bullying Prevention
Bullying is a widespread issue that negatively impacts everyone involved, including those being bullied, those who are bullying, and those who witness the bullying. About 1 in 5 high school students report being bullied on school property and 1 in 6 high school students report cyberbullying. Bullying can result in physical injury, social and emotional distress, self-harm, and death. It also increases the risk for depression, anxiety, sleep difficulties, lower academic achievement, and dropping out of school. All of this is preventable, and everyone has a part to play in preventing bullying. In particular, parents can help prevent bullying by:
 Observing your child(ren) for signs they might be being bullied.
 If your child is being bullied, having an open-ended conversation where you can learn what’s going on so you can take appropriate steps to rectify the situation.
 Teaching your child(ren) how to handle being bullied.
 Setting boundaries with technology.
 Educating your child(ren) about bullying and remind them that bullying has serious consequences.
 Making your home bully free – children learn behavior through their parents, so model positive examples for your children.
 Looking for self-esteem issues – children with low self-esteem often bully to feel better about themselves.

Find more information on these topics at:
 https://www.apa.org/topics/bullying/prevent
 https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/youthviolence/bullyingresearch/fastfact.html
 https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/parents/index.html
 https://www.tiogacountyny.gov/departments/public-health/

Tioga County Public Health wishes all students, teachers, staff and parents /guardians a happy, safe, and healthy school year.