On Thursday, August 20th, some Duval County School students will be heading back to the classroom. With school back in session, citizens are reminded to know the rules when sharing the road with school buses.
Additionally, parents are encouraged to spend time talking with their children about back to school safety issues.
The men and women of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office wish everyone a safe and successful 2020-2021 School Year!
All citizens are reminded to slow down to the posted speed during the posted times while driving through a school zone. For parents/guardians dropping off and picking up students, please follow all the traffic and safety instructions from school personnel or the police officer if one is present. (For information on becoming a school crossing guard, please visit JoinJSO.com
or call the Community Engagement Division at 904.630.2160)
The Wireless Communications While Driving Law, effective October 1, 2019 prohibits the use of a wireless communications device in a handheld manner while driving in a designated school crossing, school zone, or active work zone area. Information provided by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles
Traffic Safety – Arrive Alive!
Travel can be particularly dangerous for those walking or riding a bicycle, as well as for drivers if everyone doesn’t know the rules of the road and obey them.
- To slow down near bus stops and to watch out for kids.
- Red flashing lights and an extended stop arm means the school bus has stopped to load or unload children. Do not attempt to PASS a bus with an activated STOP arm.
- On a two-lane road or a divided roadway with no median, all drivers in both directions must stop for buses when the STOP arm is extended.
- Obey the traffic laws, signals and speed limits.
Information provided by the Florida Department of Transportation.
Please refer to the diagram for the traffic laws for stopping for a school bus. Graphic from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles
Being Home Alone
Per the Florida Department of Children and Families website: "The National SAFE KIDS Campaign recommends that children not be left alone before the age of 12. Many other children will not be ready until later than that. Also, experts caution that older siblings are generally not ready for the responsibility of supervising young children until the age of 15 or older."
- Strangers: A big safety concern for parents is how to protect kids who are home alone after school. The favorite rule uttered by parents is: “Don't let a stranger inside the house.” It's a good rule, but should be reworded.
Kids expect strangers to be “scary looking” when indeed they look like an everyday person and kids need to know that. Explain to them exactly who are the trusted adults in your world. Have very specific conversations about what is permitted and not permitted by you.
- Additionally, instead of filling your child's head with "don'ts" simply tell them to keep all the doors to the outside (including the garage) closed and locked. If someone comes to the door, your child can communicate with this person through the door. They should not tell the person at the door who is home and who is not. “My dad can’t come to the door right now, sorry” is preferred to “My dad isn’t home.” If the person won’t leave, they should be instructed to call 9-1-1 and report a suspicious person at their door.
- Have a Check-In Time: It is recommended that parents ask their child to call and let a parent or guardian know that he/she has arrived home safely. Set a consistent time for the child to call you (or email/text, if allowed) each day. Give him/her 10 minutes (plus or minus to allow for a slow bus) or any other event that might occur and disrupt the schedule. You can start to worry if he/she doesn't meet this deadline. If the parent or guardian can't be reached, make sure the child knows who they should call call to check in (i.e. grandparent or trusted neighbor)
- Have a Plan: Parents need to remember that kids who are home alone are much more likely to encounter dangers such as fire from burning popcorn or falling down the stairs than being abducted by a stranger. It is very important that the family has a plan and knows how to react to different situations that may occur, including household emergencies. Run practice drills and make sure your child does not hesitate or deviate from the plan that you have enacted.
Rules for Internet Use
Keep in mind, threats to a child’s safety can come from someone on the internet and NOT necessarily at the front door.
Children need to know what is OK to do until mom or dad get home, and what is not. These are decisions and rules that a parent or guardian should decide on and discuss with the child. There can be structure to a child’s afternoon, even if no one else is home, leaving less opportunity for an unsupervised child to get into trouble.
Remind your children that family business (i.e. your address, phone number, etc.) is NOT appropriate for the internet, and they should be mindful of the content posted to social media sites …it lasts FOREVER.
Parents and legal guardians are reminded that there is a local curfew ordinance. A parent or legal guardian is accountable, by law, for knowing the whereabouts and activities of their underage children. (Municipal Code, Children’s Curfew, Section 603.201) Basically, children under 18 cannot be out at night after 11 p.m. on Sunday - Thursday nights and 12 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights without a guardian or adult, unless they are engaged in a sanctioned activity, such as work.
In addition, the State of Florida has a driver’s curfew that governs juveniles operating motor vehicles. For more information please visit the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles website.
In addition to the curfew law, the City of Jacksonville abides by Florida State Statute 232.19 regarding truancy and the penalties regarding the mandate for school attendance by children, ages six to 16 years of age. Parents and children are subject to penalties for truancy under this law. For more information, please visit the Florida Legislature’s Website.