Ask the DA: Back to school safety

September 4, 2013 Charles J. Hynes
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Every year around this time, writers ask for suggestions on helping their children return safely to school. Below are some safety tips to discuss with your children, as well as information about my office’s crime prevention division which offers our Legal Lives program in elementary schools throughout Brooklyn.

Additional educational programs offered include workshops that address drunk driving, bullying, internet safety and gang awareness.

•Use a buddy system whenever possible while traveling to school.

•Avoid displaying money, jewelry and electronic equipment.

•Keep keys separate from your knapsack, preferably in your pocket. If your bag is lost or stolen, the thief will not have access to your home.

•Minimize the amount of money, credit cards and valuables that you carry, and only take items that are necessary for the day dividing money between your book bag and pockets.

•Stay alert in crowded situations such as subways and buses, keeping your possessions in front of you.

•When traveling on subways ride in the conductor’s car if possible.

•Report any incident that may occur to authorities immediately.

Also, staff members from my office’s crime prevention division conduct training sessions for principals, teachers, parents and students to recognize the signs of bullying and to take corrective action to stop or preempt it.

Bullying typically consists of physical abuse or threats, verbal taunting or encouraging other students to shun a particular person.

My office also offers a program where members of our staff visit elementary schools throughout Brooklyn to educate fifth-grade students about the criminal justice system as part of our Legal Lives Program.

Prosecutors and support staff from my office work together with judges and teachers to instruct students about the law and its role in their lives. Legal Lives was founded in 1990 in response to a drastic increase in drug-related and bias crimes.

The program involves weekly interactive lessons, take home lessons, a radio show and mock trials. Students are taught about a variety of topics including internet safety, drugs, drinking and driving, hate crimes, gun possession, domestic violence, shoplifting and violence.

Lessons in the curriculum examine the facts of the actual cases. Students role-play the facts of the cases, respond to questions that are related to the crimes, learn elements of the law pertinent to their age group and participate in mock trials.

Many of the lessons that are taught in the classrooms are reinforced through trips to the courts and my office. The Legal Lives program has been replicated in schools across the state and country.

If you have questions about our educational programs call my hotline at 718-250-3395.

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