This week, tens of thousands of public and private school students will begin the new school year.

Motorists, we ask you to watch out for students walking to bus stops or to school. We ask motorists to be patient if the roads to schools get jammed with students who are being driven to or from school.

Slow down

We also ask motorists to drive more carefully and respect 15- to 25-mph speed limits near bus stops and school zones. We need fellow motorists to be vigilant regarding errant drivers and call 911 if they see erratic driving behavior.

Many of our public school students will be in bus stops before sunrise as some public schools start before 7 a.m. Roads might be slippery and driving conditions might be poor. Motorists, slow down.

Some of these students will be on the road with little or no protection from the elements. We ask motorists to avoid splattering students with rain runoff.

Brief students on dangers

Parents and guardians, don't let your young children walk to or wait in a bus stop alone. Last school year, a child in elementary school was abducted and raped in a multiresidential neighborhood in Tamuning. A few basic safety measures also can help save a child from harm, including inappropriate relationships and other forms of abuse in a school environment.

Parents can get to know their neighbors and work out a system to take turns keeping watch at a bus stop. Some parents already do this, but we need more parents to be more engaged. More efforts to carpool also may help students in your immediate neighborhood.

Parents, dangers may lurk within a school environment and some of these red flags might not be readily apparent to a child. Give your students an age-appropriate briefing so they will be aware of what's considered inappropriate touching, inappropriate friendships with teachers and school staff, abusive language, bullying or other issues at school. Empower your students to share with you incidents that make them uncomfortable in a school setting. Guide them through ways to remember and take notes of any such incident.

Extend a helping hand

Concerned citizens and good Samaritans, there are practical ways to help students and their families. You could donate gas cards, umbrellas, raincoats, new shoes, school uniforms or more costly school supplies such as calculators and waterproof binders.

Call the school in your village and see how you can give help through the parent-teacher organizations or the school's student support office.

Let's help our students get off to a good start.

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