CBS SF.com — Summer is over and school’s in. But what about after school when latchkey kids are on their own?
Parents who work know it well. It’s that worrisome window of time between the second their child leaves school, and the moment they get home from work. The kids have been without adult supervision for one, two, sometimes three or more hours. Most often, all goes well, but when things go wrong, they can go terribly wrong.
After school programs and extracurricular activities are great but not always an option. That’s why the Santa Clara Police Department put together this list of 10 key questions parents and caregivers should discuss with children in hopes of keeping latchkey kids who are home alone, safe until you get there.
- What route will your child take to and from school?
- Will your child be required to call/text an adult when they have arrived safely at the appropriate location?
- Does your child need an electronic device with GPS?
- Impress upon your child the importance of closing and locking ALL doors behind them
- Have you discussed a set of rules regarding whether they are able to have friends over, opening the door to strangers, use of electronics, use of kitchen appliances, even watching TV.
- Are siblings able to help take care of their younger brothers and sisters? Are they capable and equipped with all the emergency information they need to do so?
- How child-safe is your home? Are alcohol, tobacco, car keys, fire hazards and other high-risk items safely out of reach?
- Should your child take a First Aid/CPR class?
- Who can your child call if they need assistance. That could be a family member, a neighbor or someone else? Where can your child find these important phone numbers?
- What should your child do in the case of a fire, earthquake or other disaster? Do you have a disaster plan?
Police also advise families to teach children how to call the 911 Emergency Telephone System in cases of suspicious activity, fire, accident, crime and serious injury or illness.
Finally, families should set up a time revisit these things on a regular basis. Everyone concerned will be safer if they do.
CBSSF.com writer, producer Jan Mabry is also executive producer and host of The Bronze Report. She lives in Northern California. Follow her on Twitter @janmabr.