Durban - Pupils are going back to school this week and the Department of Education in partnership with the SAPS said it was committed to preventing, managing and responding to incidents of crime and violence in schools this year. They said prevention and early intervention were the most reliable and cost-effective ways to support schools in delivering a learning environment that was safe.
Tips for teachers to keep children safe at school:
* Enforce zero-tolerance policies toward the presence of weapons, alcohol and drugs.
* Engage pupils in maintaining a good learning environment by establishing a representative council of pupils.
* Develop protocols between the SAPS and the school about ways to share information on and handle at-risk pupils.
* Develop resource lists that provide referral services for pupils who are depressed or otherwise under stress.
* Involve pupils in designing and running programmes such as mediation, mentoring, peer assistance, school crime watch and graffiti-removal programmes.
* Establish a safe school committee to oversee the development and implementation of initiatives that address contributing factors to crime and violence.
Tips for parents to keep children safe at school:
* Talk to your children about their day. Children won’t tell you right away if they are having problems at school. Ask about bullying, look for warning signs, such as a sudden drop in grades, loss of friends, or torn clothing.
* Teach children to resolve problems without fighting. Talk to them about other ways they can work out a problem, such as talking it out, walking away, sticking with friends, or telling a trusted adult.
* Keep an eye on your children’s internet use. Many schools have computers with internet access. Ask your children’s school if pupils are monitored when they use the internet or if there is a blocking device installed to prevent children from finding explicit websites. Talk to your children about what they do online.
* Ask about the safety and emergency plans for your children’s school.
Tips when travelling to and from school:
* Map out with your children a safe way for them to walk to school or to the bus stop. Avoid busy roads and intersections. Do a trial run with them to point out places they should avoid, such as vacant lots, bushy areas, construction areas and parks where there aren’t many people.
* Teach children to follow traffic signals and rules when walking. Stress that they should cross the street at pedestrian crossings or intersections with scholar patrols when possible.
* Encourage children to walk to school or the bus stop with a sibling or friend, and to wait at bus stops with other children.
* Teach children not to talk to strangers, go anywhere with them, or accept gifts from them without your permission. Tell them that if they see a suspicious stranger hanging around or in their school they should tell an adult.
* Help children memorise their phone number and full address, including the area code. Write down other important phone numbers such as your work and cellphone on a card for your children to carry with them.
The South African National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence
WhatsApp Number: 076 535 1701
Call: 0861 472 622
The National Institute for Crime Prevention and the Reintegration of Offenders