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News Story
Updated: 06/08/2013 08:00:41AM

Is your child capable of staying home alone?

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Bartow Police Chief Joseph Hall

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Wednesday was the last day for Polk County schools. This is great for the students, but may cause scheduling conflicts for their parents. For the last 10 months, there was a place for school age children to go every day while parents worked. Now school is out, but parents must continue going to work. Several important questions need to be addressed.

First, should you leave your
children at home alone during the day?

Second, are they mature enough to stay home alone, make good choices, and follow instructions?

Each year we receive calls at the police department wanting us to tell you, the parent, what the “legal age” is to leave your child alone while you work. Well, there is no definitive answer to that question. You, the parent, must decide the maturity level of your child and make that decision based on what you know and are comfortable with. To help you make that determination, you can consider whether your child understands how to care for him/herself during a specified time.

Have you taught him/her how to notify police in an emergency? Do they know not to open the door for strangers, have guests over that you are unaware of, and how to prepare something to eat if you are gone for long periods of time?

If you are comfortable knowing that your child is well aware of these safety points, he or she may be a good candidate to be a latchkey kid.

Also, as a parent, you should be able to identify a child that is clearly incapable of these tasks and they should never be left home alone all day. It is very important that your child knows exactly what to do if they feel threatened, have a fire, or simply become ill and need help.

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us at the Bartow Police Department. We can be reached at 863-534-5034.


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