The other day, as I was hunting for some old photographs, I found a picture from the Medicine Hat News circa 1974, showing a group of children (me included) being recognized for the ‘Safety Patrol of the Month’ award. I can remember how it felt to be anointed into the crossing guard clique. I loved that job. I had my big red stop sign, and I had control of the entire street! Not that we had many cars in our neighborhood, but I felt that I was doing a very important and serious job. If you were safety patrol, you were royalty. The skills I learned and the confidence I gained on that job have followed me through my life.
In the city you don’t see many crossing guards but if you do – it isn’t the children but parent volunteers. Why is that? Are we scared to give our tweens (in BC you have to be 10 to be a crossing guard) and teenagers the responsibility to hold up the big red stop sign? Is the liability issue the reason the school boards have shut down the opportunity for children to learn a valuable skill and responsibility? Would parents feel more compelled to let their kids walk to school if there were more crossing guards?
It is that time of year again when all the kiddies will be heading back to school. It is time for all drivers to reflect on how this event impacts the morning commute. Do you know all the school zones on your route? Do you have pedestrian controlled intersections to cross? Do you encounter a crossing guard?
I am voting to bring back the safety patrol and let the kids take on the job. If you are driving to school, pay attention to your school’s traffic plan. This is a document every school should have that dictates the best and safest practices for traffic patterns, drop-off and pick-up locations, and of course, where the crossing guards will patrol. If your school doesn’t have one, be the first to come up with a safe traffic plan and implement crossing guards in your hood. In BC, the safety patrol program is sponsored by BCAA Traffic Foundation. They have the resources to help your school set up a program. Encourage your child to volunteer for safety patrol!
Does your school have safety patrol? Let us know your school and who patrols: children or parents? What are your thoughts?