For Immediate Release
October 3, 2001
Director, Healthy Lifestyles
Region of Peel
905-791-7800, Ext. 2617
Peel Health Offers Tips for Children Home Alone After School
(Brampton) - For a growing number of children in Peel and across Canada, being "home alone" at lunchtime or after school is a fact of life.
Laws across Canada vary, but 10 years is generally the age at which children can legally be left on their own for short periods of time. However, parents are legally responsible for making appropriate arrangements for the care of their children up to 16 years.
"Children vary in their maturity and responsibility at all ages. It is the parents' responsibility to carefully assess the child's ability to make good decisions about his or her safety and then make appropriate arrangements based on that knowledge," says Judi Edwards, Director of Services for Peel Children's Aid.
"Parents often have to make hard decisions about their child's care between the end of the school day and the end of the work day," says Dr. David McKeown, Medical Officer of Health for the Region of Peel. "Peel Health encourages all parents to develop strong lines of communication with their children, and teach them how to be both safe and responsible if they must stay alone."
Peel Health offers four tips to help parents prepare their children for those times when they are home alone:
1. Teach your children how to be safe: Make sure they know:
- Their full name, address and phone number, as well as their parent's name, work place and work phone number.
- How to dial "9-1-1"
- Basic emergency skills
- How to carry a house key to prevent loss or theft
- Not to enter the home if there are signs of a break-in
- To lock the door after entering the house
- What to do if they are being followed
2. Develop and nurture good parent/child communication:
- Discuss family expectations about being "home alone"
- Share feelings about being alone
- Show your children you care
- Spend time with your children when you get home
- Role-model responsible behaviour, eg. call if you are going to be late
3. Teach your child how to be responsible:
- Discuss possible situations your child may encounter to help her develop judgement and self-confidence (role playing games often help reinforce good decision-making)
- Review basic family rules
- Help you child make a schedule to cover the time you are not at home
- Develop a plan for answering the telephone and the door
- Create a list of phone numbers of helpful friends, neighbours and family in case you are not available
4. Seek alternatives to your child being home alone:
- Investigate after-school activities and programs
- Ask a relative to help
- Share baby-sitting costs with other parents
- Talk to your employer about on-site child-care or flexible hours
For more information, contact Health Line Peel at 905-799-7700.
Communication Services, 10 Peel Centre Dr., Brampton, ON L6T 4B9
Phone: 905-791-7800, Fax: 905-791-0595 , e-mail
Web site: http://www.region.peel.on.ca
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