Starting high school safely – never too old to be safe
Starting Year 7 is an exciting time full of new challenges and freedom. Travelling to and from a new school is one of them.
Parents and carers are responsible for their child's safety on the way to and from school.
Starting high school is a time of change for your child. Students meet and make new friends, experience new school subjects and teachers, and want to be increasingly independent.
For many children, travelling on their own will be a new experience as they walk, ride or catch public transport to and from their new high school.
Here are some steps you can take to ensure your child understands how to get to and from school safely - and also reassure yourself about their welfare.
Talk to your child
Begin by starting a conversation. This often comes down to talking about what “independence” means to both you and them.
It can mean the following:
- taking more responsibility and learning how to manage personal safety as well as looking out for others
- focusing on what is happening around you
- waiting for the right moment to catch a bus or train, avoiding rushed decisions
- removing earplugs and putting phones away when crossing the road
- practicing how to use a timetable and public transport.
Plan and practice travel routes
Plan possible travel routes and test them out together. Then choose a preferred travel option and one or two alternatives as a backup. Have a few practice runs to go over any potential safety issues. When choosing a route, you and your child should:
- avoid heavy traffic areas, if possible
- identify safe places to cross
- look out for vehicles before stepping out onto roads
- use crossings and footpaths, where possible
- face oncoming traffic if no footpath is available and walk as far away from the edge of the road as possible
- watch out for vehicles entering or leaving driveways and cars reversing in car parks.
Identify solutions together
With more independence comes greater responsibility and when things don’t work out exactly as planned, your child will have to adapt and find a solution themselves.
Discuss and practice with your child:
- what to do when it rains, they’re running late, miss the bus or train, lose their travel pass or feel unsafe travelling while travelling
- how to be assertive if they get pressure from others to act unsafely.
- "I’m not going to do that. If my parents found out I'd be grounded.”
- “It took me 6 months saving to buy these AirPods, I’m putting them in my bag so I don’t lose them”
- “Sorry, I can’t hang with you at the shops, I’ve got the orthodontist at 4.00 pm. See you tomorrow”.