PoV: Vigilance for safety of kids can't stop at school doors 0
The safe schools movement in Canada has transformed the once jungle-like world of the nation's school systems, mostly for the better.
Locked-door policies, with surveillance cameras and entry buzzers; anti-bullying protocols; strict parental notification rules -- the list of safeguards layered on for kids at school over the past generation has been nothing short of breath-taking.
It can all seem nanny-state-run-amok to some. But if kids are safer and feel more secure, who's to argue?
What's not so good, is our collective national adjustment to the needed safety precautions and mental checks the school year brings. This week's tragic death of a 14-year-old girl, struck and killed by a truck as she walked to class for the first day of high school, should be a wake-up call to us all about how little attention we pay, relatively, to the safety of kids coming to and going away from schools.
No, we're not talking about criminal acts that menace kids on the move -- abductions by parents, for example, or worse, by complete strangers. Sadly, as we've seen in this country, there's no foolproof security system to protect kids against random violence or wars between parents.
On the other hand, we all owe kids a collective duty of protection we too often ignore by flouting the rules of the road and of common sense.
Consider -- even without added accomplices like cellphones and ear buds -- some of the culprits:
* Drivers who blow past stopped school buses boarding kids.
* Motorists who think school zone signs are markers for school sites, not speed limits.
* Child-driving parents who crowd school zones in numbers so thick, they make chaos of orderly streets.
Nationwide, after a two-month hiatus, an astonishing five million school-age Canadians are suddenly on the move. Add in college and university students, and that figure swells to nearly seven million. That's nearly one in five of us.
It was in Toronto where Violet Liang died, but it could have been anywhere in Canada -- along a rural road, at a big-city transit stop or on any of thousands of school streets. We don't know yet what explained the terrible collision. What we do know is, we can all do better.