HOWARD — Do you know what to do if a child is choking? Do you know ways to soothe a crying baby? Do you know what to do in case of an emergency?
Some seventh-graders at East Knox Middle School do, thanks to the efforts of high school Family, Career and Community Leaders of America members Lynn Tullos, Alicia Willis and Brittany Hopkins.
The high school trio visited the youngsters to give some safety tips for baby sitters and to inform them of the dangers of shaken baby syndrome. Tullos said seventh-grade is not too early to teach about such topics, because a class survey showed 71 percent of the seventh-graders have watched children by themselves, mostly caring for siblings after school.
Knowing where to access emergency numbers and first aid supplies are two of the most important things a baby sitter should know, the FCCLA team said. Members discussed what to do in case of a fire or choking incident, and talked about how to safely prepare meals while tending a youngster. They distributed sample “safety cards” to record important baby-sitting information such as contact numbers, allergies and safe outdoor meeting place in case of a fire, and gave each seventh-grader a mini first aid kit complete with Band-Aids and antibiotic cream.
As the high school students answered questions from the audience, the sound of a baby crying came from the back of the room. The FCCLA presenters continued to talk, but the seventh-graders were soon distracted by the louder and louder wails from the infant — an electronic, life-like doll. As three or four of the seventh-graders took turns trying to soothe the “child,” the FCCLA team talked about shaken baby syndrome and the severe harm it causes to 1,000 infants every year.
In describing how they felt when the baby could not be comforted, the seventh-graders used terms such as worried, annoyed and scared, then came up with some ideas as to what to do when the baby won’t stop crying and the baby sitter is getting frustrated. Among their ideas were to call a friend or family member, call in a relief sitter and de-stress oneself.
That discussion led to a conversation about how early pregnancy affects the teen parents’ lifestyle, and possibly leads to frustration and resentment toward the child.
Kirkland Adams, one of the seventh-graders, said seventh-grade is not too young to learn about such issues. He liked having the high school girls come in and talk his class.
“It was kind of cool how they worked on [the presentation] and came to tell the class the facts and what to do,” he said. Adams also said he was very shocked to learn that only 2 percent of the teen fathers stay with the girl they got pregnant.
Another seventh-grader, Brooklyn Owens, also said it was cool that the high school students shared their knowledge with the younger students.
“I like listening to somebody that’s close in age and grade level who is educated about the subject,” she said.
She also felt that seventh-grade is not too early to learn about things like shaken baby syndrome.