Your Child and Safety: On the way to school, with confidence

Martine Bernier

Health journalist, editor-in-chief

May 7, 2021

The path of the schoolchildren represents for many the place of all the dangers….

Dangers that you have to learn to face knowingly to evolve safely. To encourage parents to get involved in the training of their children so that they get into the habit of walking to school, the cantonal police of Friborg visit 24,000 primary school students every year as part of its road education program. The police make them aware of the dangers of road traffic and teach them to adopt the right behaviour on the way to school. The On foot to school campaign organised by the Friborg Cantonal Police thus encourages children to discover the world at the pace of their footsteps and to limit the problem of parent taxis which clog the neighbourhoods of schools.

In particular, the campaign offers a competition for grades 1 to 4, aimed at encouraging students to give up on their own to use a vehicle. The five classes with the most child pedestrians during the ten-day challenge period win prizes. And the organisers hope that this experience will make as many families as possible want to let children reclaim the path of schoolchildren. Especially since this is much more than an itinerary leading from point A to point B, but it is for them a perpetual source of discovery and micro-adventures! Not to mention that walking is healthy!

How to do it?

In Switzerland, around 1,300 children are injured on their way to school every year. It is, therefore, necessary to educate them from an early age to adopt the right behaviours. The basis of the other rules remains the same: stop, watch, listen and cross in walking. Make sure your child wears clothes in bright, light colours, ideally with reflective details. From the age of four, teach them to cross the road exclusively on clear and little-used roads. The next year, teach him how to enter the crosswalk on his own with the traffic lights while being careful of the traffic. First, the child follows the course in the company of an adult. His behaviour will be considered stable when he acts identically in the same place at different times of the day for several days.

“In Switzerland, each year, around 1300 children are injured on the way to school.”

From 6 years old, get them used to cross the road among obstacles hindering the visibility.

Parents should plan and define the trip together with their children. Choose the safest routes, even if it means slight detours for safety reasons.

Accompany him several times on the chosen route, in both directions, before the start of the school year and make him aware of dangerous places.

When he’s ready to go to school on his own, check how he handles traffic and watches him. This is the only way to know which paths he is taking, how he crosses the road, and how he behaves when he is in the company of peers of the same age. Over time, he will want to travel with friends from the neighborhood. This allows him to make friends and increases security, as groups are more visible in traffic. However, we must not overlook the fact that children are sometimes more inattentive when there are several of them.

It is very important that the pupils leave the house early enough and without being in a rush. When they are stressed, they are often distracted. On the other hand, when a child is under the influence of emotions, it can compromise his safety: if he is sad, afraid, or angry, it is better to accompany him, even if he is already older.

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