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April 18, 2014

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Six steps parents can take to ensure a safe spring break for kids

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Paul Takahashi

Clark County School District Police Lt. Ken Young and other local law enforcement officials urge parents to be proactive in making spring break safe for students.

Spring break starts next week, and local law enforcement officers want the community to be prepared for the influx of 311,000 public school students into Las Vegas' parks, malls and streets.

The Clark County School District Police Department – as well as its police partners at Henderson, Metro and North Las Vegas – used a news conference Thursday morning to urge the community to look out for children's safety during spring break.

"We want to ensure we have one of the safest spring breaks," said CCSD Police Lt. Ken Young.

Police officers covered a variety of topics, from pedestrian safety to concerns about alcohol and drug abuse. Here are six tips parents and community members should keep in mind this spring break:

    • Plan structured activities for your children.

      Teenagers and students often are left on their own during spring break as parents work during the day. North Las Vegas Police PIO Chrissie Coon encourages parents to take their children to the YMCA, Boys & Girls Clubs and other structured environments so children will have activities to do and stay out of trouble.

    • Watch out for children walking and playing in the streets

      Las Vegas has seen a rise in the number of fatal accidents this year.

      Metro Capt. Tom Roberts urges parents to review pedestrian safety tips with their children: Use crosswalks, look both ways and make eye contact with drivers before crossing the street.

      "Just because you can see them doesn't mean they can see you," Roberts said.

      Police officers also had advice for drivers.

      Unlike school weeks, there will be thousands of children gathering in local neighborhoods during the day. Children will congregate to malls and parks and will use bikes and skateboards to get there, so drivers must remain vigilant for pedestrian traffic, said Henderson Capt. Michael Johnston.

    • Curfew is still in effect

      Teenagers will be out later than usual because school is out, Roberts said. Curfew is still in effect however, he said.

      Unaccompanied minors must be home by 10 p.m. on weeknight and midnight on weekends. If anyone sees a large group of teenagers congregating at a house for a party, Roberts urges neighbors to call police so they can check on them.

      "If you see a large group of juveniles, call us," Roberts said.

      Metro will increase its police presence on the Las Vegas Strip and other popular gathering places to ensure visitors' safety, Roberts added. The curfew will apply to underaged visitors as well, he said.

    • Do an inventory of your medicine and liquor cabinets

      Police are seeing a trend of teenagers abusing prescription drugs. Young urged parents to conduct an inventory of prescription drugs and alcohol in the house and talk to children about the dangers of alcohol intoxication and drug abuse.

    • Monitor social media and cellphone usage

      Technology has made it easier for teenagers to post and share illicit activity online, Coon said. There are new cellphone applications that encourage "sexting" between teenagers as well.

      Parents are urged to monitor their children's social media networks and be aware of what they are downloading onto their cellphones, Coon said. If your child has Facebook, open a Facebook account to monitor their actions online, she said.

      Many technology devices have parental control settings that allow parents access to what their children are doing online. Use them, Roberts said.

      "If you're not doing that, you're not doing your kids a favor," he said.

    • Keep it safe at home

      If you are traveling out of town over spring break, remember to maintain home safety tips, Young said. Have the post office hold your mail and don't broadcast on social media that you will be out of town. Also make sure to advise children on swimming safety and "Stranger Danger," he added.

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