LOLLIPOP men and women are having to run a gauntlet of abuse from rule-breaking motorists - as council chiefs are struggling to man all the patrols.
Some 30 positions are currently vacant in Sheffield, meaning children are having to take more risks crossing busy roads on the way to school unaccompanied, because potential recruits are being put off by the risk of confrontation with drivers.
Managers of the School Crossing Patrol service, provided by Sheffield Council, have spoken out about rule-breaking or argumentative drivers who contribute to the traffic chaos which threatens youngsters on a daily basis.
Some say motorists can become abusive when their behaviour is challenged and arguments between parents during the busiest periods are a common sight for the wardens.
The council has thrown its weight behind South Yorkshire Road Safety Partnership’s It’s Your Child campaign - backed by The Star - to encourage people to think twice about bad driving and dangerous parking near schools.
Shirley Adams, school crossing supervisor at Sheffield Council, said: “We go out and visit our wardens as often as we can and one of the main problems from their point of view is verbal abuse from drivers.
“Sometimes, parents park outside school where they shouldn’t and they become quite rude when they are asked to move on. It does make wardens’ work more difficult.
“The wardens are very visible and very much part of the community. Some of our staff go into schools to chat to children and they help us highlight safety issues.
“It’s a struggle because we have a big problem with recruitment. The wardens we have make a huge difference to the schools they work at.”
Parents have been urged to set an example to their children by walking, or parking further away from schools as part of the campaign.
“Education is the important thing,” added Mrs Adams. “If a parent parks that little bit further away and uses lollipop men or women to cross roads, it will teach children how to do it.”
Coun Leigh Bramall, Sheffield Council cabinet member for transport, said: “The role of a School Crossing Patrol is really important and motorists should respect that.
“We pay particular attention to educating children across the city about how to stay safe on and around the roads, especially how to cross safely.
“School Crossing Patrols support children on their journey to and from school. They are there to help keep children safe and we need to remember that. Taking the time to observe rules and restrictions is something that, as motorists, we are all responsible for.”
■ If anyone is interested in becoming a lollipop man or woman, they should email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0114 273 5818.