Pine Bluffs Post - Serving all of Eastern Laramie County since 1908

By Cynthia Shroyer
Pine Bluffs Post staff 

Keeping students safe


Students in our reading area have the first week or so of school under their belt and are getting settled in their classrooms and working on the task at hand. It’s an innocent and necessary pursuit we have all been through, and often without thought to something going horribly wrong in the process.

But even in small towns like Pine Bluffs, Albin, Burns, Carpenter and Grover danger can lurk for our students. One local student has already been approached by a stranger with criminal intent in mind. It is difficult to wrap our minds around that given we know pretty much any face in town. With Pine Bluffs and Burns being right off I-80 and with Albin, Carpenter and Grover’s distance from more populous areas we have a need to protect our children from strangers who would do them harm.

Here are a few things from the National Safety Council that you can do to protect your child:

• Teach your child not to talk to strangers.

• Train them to stay away from anyone in a vehicle asking for directions. Adults don’t need directions from children.

• Teach your child to use a telephone or cell phone and how to call for help, using 911.

• Set up a code word that is shared with your family and trusted family and friends. Your child should know the code word and be prepared to respond to anyone who knows it. Make the word meaningful to your family so a stranger would not be able to figure it out.

• Teach your child not to take candy, food or drinks from strangers.

• Teach your child not to respond to a stranger asking if the child wants to see a puppy or kitten in a car.

• If someone approaches them, children should get away to a safe place as soon as they can and make a report to a trusted adult who can notify the police.

Unfortunately, the streets and sidewalks are not the only place your child may be in danger. Bullying is not new in the school yard, but it does have a more pronounced place on the radar for possible danger. Laramie County School District No. 2 and the Pawnee School District each have a bullying policy in place to prevent students from bullying and being bullied. Teachers and staff at the schools can be helped by parents reinforcing good behavior when students are away from school.

Bullying has many forms ranging from the physical in hitting or punching to the teasing and name-calling of verbal bullying. It also can be non-verbal, through intimidation and social exclusion; sexual, or cyberbullying through email or social media sites.

Here are the warning signs from the NSC that your child is being bullied:

• Dislikes or has lost interest in school;

• Has few, if any, friends;

• Appears sad, anxious or moody when talking about school;

• Complains of headaches or stomach aches;

• Has unexplained cuts, bruises and/or scratches;

• Appears afraid of going back to school;

• Returns from school with torn, damaged or missing articles of clothing, books or belongings;

• Has trouble sleeping and/or has frequent nightmares.

The NSC offers four steps for parents and guardians of children who are being bullied. First, empower your child to speak up to you and their teacher or bus driver. Next, ask the child questions to find out who is bullying them, where and when. Offer support through this process. Assess the situation to see if the bullying has escalated or is still occurring. Explore options to make your child safe. Finally, inform your child’s school. Work with school authorities to address the bullying, create a solution and get help for all the children involved.

Afraid your child is the bully? Bridgid Normand of the Committee for Children says bullies like to dominate others, hide behavior from adults, blame someone else for their problems and get satisfaction from the fear or pain of others. What should you do if you think your child is a bully? First, don’t get defensive — stay calm and listen to those who report it to you. Then take action. Pay attention to phone conversations, monitor computer use and let your child know it’s not okay to treat others in a mean way.

Our children are our most precious resource. Protecting them should be our number one job.


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