By Melanie Speicher -

SIDNEY — Protecting your child while at school is a priority for both parents and the school district’s staff members.

“When a parent drops off their kindergarten and older grade students, as they are waving goodbye, the reality of going to school kicks in for children and parents,” said Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart during his weekly interview.

“I worry about bullying at school,” he said. “Sometimes the bullying can lead to the child committing suicide or dropping out of school.”

Lenhart said everyone wants the students to have a safe and happy experience in their educational career.

He urges caution for children who are walking to and from school. Many traffic deaths involve a pedestrians walking to schools.

“Talk with your child and tell them not to take shortcuts to school,” said Lenhart. “Plan their route to and from school and practice walking it before school starts for the new year.”

Another way to keep your child safe, said Lenhart, is to report any food allergies to the school and teacher.

“Make the teacher aware of any food allergies,” said Lenhart. “I didn’t realize so many kids and adults have allergies.

“Older students — middle school and high school age — can figure out their allergies. But for the little guys — you need to talk to their teachers and tell then what they can and cannot eat,” he said.

Establishing a routine for the students is also important, he said.

“Make sure they get plenty of sleep and eat a good breakfast before going to school,” said Lenhart. “The little guys and gals are going to be nervous the first few days of school. You want to make the transition of going to school a smooth one so school is a good experience for them.”

Parents should also talk to their children about what do to in an emergency at school.

“The teachers and administrators will tell them what they’re supposed to do during a lockdown or other emergency,” said Lenhart. “But the child should know their emergency number if they are out of the school and something happens.

“Role play with your younger children different scenarios of things that could happen. One could be what happens if someone gets hurt? Or what happens if a stranger appears?”

When the child arrives at home — either by walking or riding the bus — all doors and windows should be locked after they enter the home.

“Parents should use today’s technology to keep track of their kids,” said Lenhart. “Smartphones can be used for this.”

Parents should also have rules for their children when they are playing after school.

“They should know to report suspicious behavior or a threat to their parent or a teacher,” said Lenhart. “Parents, guardians, grandparents or teachers should report the incident to the authorities.”

Lenhart also encourages parents to talk about bullying with their children.

“This plays a role in the challenges our children face today,” he said. “Because of bullying, 16,000 students miss school every year.”

He also said some children may exhibit anger in the classroom setting.

“The child may get along fine with their siblings,” said Lenhart. “When they get in a larger classroom with 25 to 30 kids in it, they might have a problem.”

Lenhart said parents should watch for warning signs concerning the child’s anger.

“Talk to your child about what’s happening in the classroom,” said Lenhart. “The parent needs to watch, listen and talk to their child. Talk to the teacher and administrator so you’re working as a team to deal with the problem.

“Also, parents should know the friends of their children,” he said. “I encourage every parent or guardian to get involved with their children’s lives at school.”

He hops all students will have a safe, fun-filled school year.

By Melanie Speicher

The writer conducts a weekly interview to update readers with news from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 555 Gearhart Road, Sidney.

The writer conducts a weekly interview to update readers with news from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 555 Gearhart Road, Sidney.