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Danish school traffic volunteers yelled at by motorists

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Ritzau/The Local - [email protected]
Danish school traffic volunteers yelled at by motorists
Danish school children who volunteer to help classmates cross roads risk the wrath of impatient drivers. Photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix

Children who volunteer to help their peers cross busy roads outside their schools in Denmark are likely to be subjected to the wrath of passing drivers, a new report has found.

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People who grew up in the United Kingdom might recall the presence of a “Lollipop Man” or “Lollipop Lady” at a road crossing near the entrance to their school.

This person is a local council employee clad in a high-visibility jacket and brandishing a large circular sign on the end of a stick (or ‘lollipop’), marked “STOP-CHILDREN”.

Their job is to help children cross the street by standing in the middle of the road and holding up traffic until everyone is safely across.

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In Denmark, this responsibility falls not to public sector workers but to older children from the schools themselves, who are appointed as a voluntary skolepatruljeelev or “school patrol student”.

The young volunteers stand in the middle of the road to help classmates across busy streets on their way to school.

But taking on such a responsibility comes with a risk of getting yelled at by impatient motorists, according to a report from traffic safety agency Rådet for Sikker Trafik.

One in four school patrol students have experienced angry reactions from drivers while performing their tasks, the agency found.

The safety organisation is set to launch a campaign entitled Pas godt på skolepatruljen (“Take Care of the School Patrol”), urging motorists and cyclists not to direct their rage at the young attendants. The campaign will take place in 78 of Denmark’s 98 municipalities.

“School patrol students are really excellent because they do an important job for safety on school roads. Unfortunately, they sometimes experience impatient motorists who make comments or don’t follow their directions,” Lin Kofoed-Jensen, senior project leader with the traffic safety agency, said in a press statement.

“We must all find it within us to give school patrols time to carry out their work securely and safely,” she said.

The issue was found to be worst in the Greater Copenhagen region, where one in three patrol students said they had been on the receiving end of a blast from a car horn.

Nevertheless, nine out of ten volunteers who responded to the survey said they felt happy and safe to take part in patrol duties.

Many also said they felt they had learned about being responsible through the voluntary work.

Most school patrol students are in the 6th or 7th grades, equivalent to ages 12-13. A total of 2,085 students were asked about their experiences as part of the report.

READ ALSO: Why don’t Danish drivers stop at pedestrian crossings?

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