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Public Safety: Back to School

Preparing Students Beyond the School Building

By Shannon Wallace


Every summer, parents take an active role in getting their children ready to go back to school or college. Preparations typically involve buying school supplies, books, and clothes. Parents might also attend a meet-and-greet at the local elementary school or take a tour of their child’s college campus.


During this busy time, consider sitting down with your children to discuss staying safe and making sound decisions. Conversations should be informative, not scary, with important concepts reinforced frequently.


Elementary/Middle School Students

Now may be a good time to discuss these general guidelines:

  • Obey and respect authority figures including bus drivers, teachers, and school police.
  • Practice safety when cars are around, especially while crossing streets.
  • Be cautious when communicating on the internet; predators are everywhere.
  • Understand physical boundaries and the difference between good touch and bad touch.
  • If in danger, scared, or unsure what to do, seek help from a school counselor, teacher, coach, parent, or other trusted adult.


High School/College Students

While the elementary/middle school student list still applies to this group, teens and young adults deal with more mature issues. Here are additional discussion topics:

  • Alcohol and substance abuse – emphasize that underage drinking and illegal drugs are against the law. Get help for your child if he/she shows signs of addiction.
  • Driving – be sure to follow all traffic laws, wear your seatbelt, do not speed, and respect law enforcement officers. Also, do not drive under the influence and do not get into a car when the driver is under the influence; instead, call a trusted adult for a ride home.
  • Dating – remind your teen/young adult that relationships should be healthy, safe, and supportive. If a partner is physically or emotionally abusive, your child should talk to a counselor, teacher, coach, or other trusted adult. A new law in Georgia (HB 231), effective July 1, enables victims of dating violence to file a petition for a protection order. This law applies to everyone (including teens) who have been in a committed relationship for six months or more.
  • Suicide – support your teen/young adult, stay connected, and get help at any sign of mental or substance abuse problems. Your teen/young adult may also see warning signs of suicide in a friend and should encourage the friend to get help and/or talk to a trusted adult for assistance.


Every year, the District Attorney’s Office handles criminal cases that involve innocent children or young people who have made risky choices. Our hope is that by educating citizens of Cherokee County, we can help to prevent these crimes and protect our children.


Parents and other adults who have a role in the lives of young people, please remember that you can make all the difference, simply by being involved and in tune with what is going on in a child’s life.



Substance Abuse and Mental Health: SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP or
Dating Violence and Protection Orders: Cherokee Family Violence Center, 770-479-1804 or
Suicide Prevention: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-8255 or