Since 1996, Kid Watch has mobilized volunteers to provide safe passage for more than 9,000 neighborhood children as they walk to and from school, local parks, museums and libraries, and other neighborhood areas.
The Kid Watch volunteers, vetted by the university and the police department, are more than just passive onlookers. Members don a yellow vest with the Kid Watch logo in black as they walk around their neighborhoods while keeping an eye out for any suspicious behavior. They are relied upon by children around the USC community in case any emergency should happen.
By helping students feel safe, Kid Watch improves the quality of K-12 education and the quality of life for neighborhood children and their families. By mobilizing residents and other stakeholders to “watch and report,” it helps reduce crime, bullying, and pedestrian-vehicle contact, thereby improving public safety.
USC Kid Watch partners throughout the year with the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Southwest Division, Los Angeles School Police Department (LASPD), Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (METRO), USC Department of Public Safety (DPS), USC Civic Engagement, and the USC Family of Schools (FOS). Other safety partners include USC Fire Safety and Emergency Planning, City of Los Angeles Emergency Management Department, and the City of Los Angeles Fire Department.
Kid Watch volunteers are most active in the Safety Valet Drop-off system we have incorporated at all of our schools. Kid Watch members set up safety cones in front of their schools to allow cars to pull up along the curb. Kid Watch members then open the passenger side door to allow the kids to safely step out of the vehicle without their parents needing to leave the driver’s seat. The goal of this system is to prevent any pedestrian-vehicle collisions while also organizing the way students are dropped off at school.
“Kid Watch strives to give its members the skills necessary to be prepared for any type of safety issue. Simultaneously, we want to be sure we give back to the members who are the backbone of this organization. We bring resources provided by the university to the volunteers so that they can feel like they are making an impact in their community,” said current USC Kid Watch program coordinator, Irvin Jerez.
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2801 S. Hoover St.
Los Angeles, CA 90089
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Kid Watch Profile
Since 1996, Lou Edwards has watched countless children from his front porch almost every weekday morning and afternoon as they go to and from school. He began doing so after Los Angeles and USC police identified the safest routes to and from school for children in the University Park neighborhood. That route passed by Edwards’ home. A retiree, he became one of KID WATCH’s first 25 volunteers and still safeguards the neighborhood each day.
“I’m always outside gardening, planting vegetables, or working in the garage,” said Edwards, who lives near West Jefferson Boulevard and South Normandie Avenue, where, he says, conditions have improved in the last decade. “So, I watch out for the kids at the same time.”
Edwards, who said he always has been active in the community, plans to continue being a part of Kid Watch “as long as I’m here. I just want to make the community safe for kids going to school, and let them know that they have someone watching over them.”