Walters’ back-to-school safety tip for parents: Be a worthy role model


Summer is quickly coming to a close, and our kids are returning to the classroom.

Here are some back-to-school safety tips to start the school year right.

Remind your children to never talk to strangers or to accept rides from anyone they don’t know or trust.

Have a secret code word that only you and your children share in case someone comes to pick them up. This is a fool proof way for them not to be deceived.

If your children are old enough to be home alone after school, make sure to review emergency plans and set up a regular procedure where they call you to let you know they are home safely. Make sure your children know their home phone number, address and your work and cell numbers along with another trusted adult they can contact if needed and how to call 911 in case of an emergency.

Today it is more important than ever to make sure your teen-age children drive safely, as vehicle crashes are the leading killer of teens in America. In 2011, more than 3,000 families lost a child in a motor vehicle crash.  In more than half of fatal crashes, the teen wasn’t wearing a seat belt. Motor vehicle crashes cause more teen deaths than cancer, heart disease, congenital anomalies and cerebrovascular diseases combined.

Make a habit of using your seat belts, starting when your kids are very young. Research has shown that teens whose parents don’t use seat belts regularly are less likely to buckle up themselves. Be a role model for your child; seat belts save lives and lowers the risk of death for a front seat passenger by 45 percent.

Teens are keenly aware of how their parents drive, and they know when they are not following traffic rules. Don’t text while you are driving. Put your phone away while you drive unless it is connected via blue-tooth technology. It is illegal and very dangerous to try to text and drive at the same time.

Don’t put yourself in the awkward positon of having your kids pick up dangerous bad habits from you. They notice what you do and whether you obey the rules of the road, much more so than what you say.  Make sure your actions and words are consistent.

Be a worthy role model.

Talk to your kids about the riding with someone who drives unsafely. It is never easy to confront a friend about their driving but they can always make other choices about who they ride with. Talking with your kids about situations where they are riding with a driver that texts or speeds and ask them what they would do.

Walters retired as Santa Ana Police Chief last year. He now works as Executive Vice President of Evidence Based Inc. He can be reached at or 949-216-6814

* Photo courtesy of Ambernectar