School starts soon ... be aware of kids

Gary Bégin

It may be a tired old cliche, but it is always a word to the wise - school starts soon so watch out for kids. That includes watching out for school buses, traffic monitors and safety patrols as well as speed limits in school zones.
While school gun violence dominates the news, the quiet statistics of student deaths due to car accidents should always be top of mind. Our rush-about society has always been wary of pedestrians, but this time of the year it is even more important to be cautious of the little kids who aren't necessarily used to walking in high traffic areas.
It is unfortunate so many parents choose to drive their kids to school, causing much more congestion than needed. Taxpayers pay for school buses, not exactly a cheap purchase, so more parents ought to let their future Einsteins ride them.
Riding the bus is another way of "socializing" your children. Call it tough love or whatever you want, the more children are insulated from their fellow students, the easier it is to become alienated from them which could eventually lead to anti-social behaviors such as violent acting out.
I am not a "shrink", but I play one in this column. Think about this, Little Johnny spends his entire life being "protected" from other Little Johnnies until one day they are forced to actually meet each other. This interaction should not look like a man among Martians, but simply as one child to another sharing interests and ideas, heroes and villains.
Constantly protecting your child will only lead to that child having an unwarranted fear of the rest of the world even if only from lack of interaction. Lack of familiarity with anything is an easy way to breed fear due to simple ignorance. We all want Little Johnny to grow up one day to be Einstein-like, then let them explore the world and discover things for themselves. The good, bad and ugly. Eventually this will lead to an ability to make sound judgments as to right and wrong. At least that's the theory.
To make matters worse, many teens and adult drivers are habitually texting and/or talking on their cell phones, thus not paying full attention to pedestrians, especially the smallest among us. Perhaps these drivers too, were over-protected as youngsters? Ignoring the reality of driving a car because of the false reality of a "must have" conversation is inherently dangerous.
Washington state passed a law against "distracted driving" and the citizenry best pay attention. Just as in the old days when seat belts were first introduced, many drivers ignored the need for them. Finally laws were passed and tickets were handed out to violators.  
The same thing will start happening to those addicted to texting and/or talking while driving. No parent, sibling or grand parent wants to attend a funeral this coming school year. It should be a time of celebration and achievement for all our students, not hospital visits.
Drivers who speed through school zones are committing "attempted murder" via vehicular homicide, but these are unnecessary crimes against the most innocent.
Just as in Smokey Bear advertisements, "only you" can prevent student/car incidents by paying attention to what you're doing behind the wheel. The future of America is literally in your hands when you take the wheel and drive in a school zone. Govern yourself accordingly.

Gary Bégin’s opinions are not the official views of NCW Media. To reach him email: Any email is subjected to publication as a “letter to the editor” unless explicitly requested not to do so.

User menu

NCW Media Newspapers