Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Karate Kids - Home Alone after School
ARE YOUR KIDS HOME ALONE
Another big safety concern for parents is how to protect "latchkey" kids who are home alone after school.
Latchkey kid or latchkey child refers to a child who returns from school to an empty home because his or her parents are away at work, or a child who is often left at home with little or no parental supervision.
This area especially, Boggs says, is one in which experts love to offer advice. The favorite rule uttered by parents and experts alike is... Don't let a stranger inside the house.
It's a good rule, but ineffective.
"Stranger is a terrible word," Boggs explains. "Kids expect strangers to be scary, and they're not."
As part of his work with the Kids Safety Council, Boggs has met with parents who swear their children would never let a stranger inside. Wearing a hidden camera, he then knocks on a door while parents watch from down the street. He tells the child his cat has run into the backyard and asks to come in to retrieve the cat. The lie works EVERY TIME.
There are really only two rules parents need to give their latchkey kid:
1. Keep Doors Shut: Instead of telling kids not to let a stranger in, the real rule needs to be: Keep the door shut and locked at all times. Don't fill your child's head with "don'ts"; simply tell them to keep all doors closed. If someone comes to the door, your child can communicate with this person through the door.
2. Set Check-In Time: Another thing parents should ask their child to do is call and let Mom or Dad know that she is home safe. Set a consistent time for the child to call each day. Give her 10 minutes plus or minus to allow for a slow bus, etc ... then start to worry if she doesn't meet this deadline. Also, find a close neighbor who is usually home around this time. If the parent can't be reached, the child knows to call this person.
Parents need to remember that kids who are home alone are much more likely to encounter dangers such as fire from burning popcorn or falling down the stairs than being abducted by a stranger. Parents need to consider some of these issues facing their families and deal with them accordingly.
Inspired by Bob Stuber is the founder of Escape School,