School’s Out, Safety is Not

Adam Coughran

Summertime is often a child’s best memory growing up: being out of school, going on family trips, and having seemingly endless time to play. For parents, however, this same time can be fraught with concern as they’re now responsible for their children the entire day and not just the time before and after school; not to mention, for working parents, there isn’t a summer break from work. The pandemic has brought the ability of many to work from home, however, splitting work responsibilities and at-home parenting has proven to be challenging at best. Regardless of the household, what many parents find themselves saying to their kids is, “go play” or some variation thereof, depending on their age.
Sending your kids or teenagers off to “go play” can have some serious safety concerns, especially outside of a parent’s watchful eye. Consider the following strategies to have a safe (and fun!) summer: 
  1. Have kids play in groups of two or more when playing or going outside. This not only helps deter potential predators but also allows fast notification of any injuries or other concerns. From playing in the front yard to going to the mall with friends, this strategy works for kids and teenagers.
  2. Good communication and check-ins. Many kids (and almost all teens) have cell phones or other devices that not only provide communication but tracking as well. Have kids get in the habit of checking in on a regular basis either by text, phone call, etc. This could be when they have arrived at a friend’s house, when the movie has finished, or in a certain timespan. Also, it’s a good idea to enable their location sharing in order to know their location not only as a backup should they forget to check in but if something does go wrong, to know their location. (Location sharing should be restricted to parent or family member devices only)
  3. Be aware of digital concerns. Not all safety issues are in the physical world anymore. With so much time being spent online by kids of all ages, what can start as a friend request in an online game can turn into very real danger. Be engaged with who and what kids are doing online. For younger kids, consider turning off chat features, posting ability, or other social tools within games or apps. For older kids, consider installing warning or key logging apps that can alert a parent’s device when certain key phrases are sent or received.
While this is by no means an exhaustive list of safety considerations, keeping these simple tips in mind can help families have a fun and safe summer.