Approximately 20% of children treated at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital Trauma Unit every year, sustain injuries at school.
Although schools are safer than many other places in communities, children still suffer injuries from falls, playground injuries, sport injuries, violence and walking or cycling to and from school.
"Schools have a responsibility to prevent injuries from occurring on school property and at school-related events. In addition, schools can teach learners the skills needed to promote safety and injury prevention at school, at play and at home," according to a press release from the Child Accident Prevention Foundation of Southern Africa (CAPFSA).
Safety at school is the responsibility of everyone - staff, learners, parents and the community at large. Effective school-based injury prevention efforts should address policies and procedure, staff development, the physical environment of the school and the curriculum.
Safety tips at school
- Children are only physical and emotionally ready to cross the road ‘safely’ at the age of eight years. Young scholars should therefore not walk to school on their own. If parent cannot accompany children to school then walking groups should be promoted.
- The safest route to and from school should be looked for and each parent should accompany the child on that route until he/she is sure that the child knows it, i.e. bus routes, cycling and walking.
- Always make sure that your child is visible when walking or cycling to school especially in winter months when it is still dark when children walk or cycle to school. Children should wear reflective clothing, for example reflective strips on school uniforms, rain jackets, school bags, school shoes, bicycles and helmets. The Woolworths schoolwear range has reflective strips on many of its schoolwear items and accessories, including school bags, school shoes, schoolwear rain jackets, schoolwear anoraks and selected jackets for younger boys and girls.
- Helmets are compulsory for all cyclists. Small children especially children up to 10 years of age are extremely prone to head injuries as their heads are heavier compared to the rest of their bodies. Make sure your child’s helmet fits correctly and that it is always tied securely.
- Most car accidents happen close to home. All children should always wear a safety belt when travelling in a car to and from school and also when making use of lift clubs or on school/sport outing when parents assist with transport. This is the law.
- We must set good examples for our children in traffic situations, children learn best by imitation.
- Children should always wear appropriate protective gear, such as mouth guards or shin guards, when taking part in sports activities. Teach children the importance of safety equipment.
- Bullying amongst children often leads to greater prolonged violence, and affects learners' ability to learn and achieve at school. Schools should have an anti-bullying policy in place and respond to any incidences immediately. Parents are their children’s first teachers. Discuss bullying behaviour and how hurtful it can be to others with your child at home. Urge children to tell an adult when they are being bullied.