Home Alone - Vocab Development - For the paragraph indicated, find the word that matches the definition below.


Home Alone? Are Your Kids Safe?

Adapted from an article by Marlene Habib

TORONTO - Despite the adventures of the little boy in the movie Home Alone, leaving youngsters to take care of themselves is no joke.

2__ A growing number of the 2.1 million Canadian kids between ages 10 and 14 are left on their own before or after school while parents make their way home from work or run errands, and this raises safety issues, warns Emile Therien of the Canada Safety Council.

3__ Therien doesn't know how many kids in that age group are left home alone. But he said the council is considering a study to determine how many there are because it's so common.

4__ "It's a safety issue," Therien said in an interview from his Ottawa office. "We want to tell parents, though, that if they do the right things, things for the better can happen."

5__ "Whether they are six or 16, school-age children need to be supervised by an adult. If you can't be there in person when your child gets home from school, find a way to give him or her the feeling of being supervised." Therien said following the launch of a new safety-council booklet, At Home on My Own, which helps parents develop an at-home plan with kids.

6__ There are more double-income families and working single parents, and fewer affordable after-school programs without waiting lists - factors, says Therien, that have contributed to kids being on their own. Instead of just ensuring kids have their house keys, parents are also equipping them with cellphones to keep in touch.

7__ Therien notes that the age at which children can legally be left at home for short periods of time changes from province to province, from 10 to 12 years. A 1999 report by Health Canada found that parents want home-alone courses for children as young as Grade Three. Age alone doesn't determine if a child is ready to go solo, warns Therien, adding that unsupervised teens can sometimes get into more trouble than younger children.

8__ Carole Deavey, an Ottawa office worker, says she has been trusting her 13-year-old son to be alone for short periods since he was 10 because "he's pretty mature and he's dependable." "I also know he wouldn't get into any trouble and he knows the house rules and is pretty good at following them."

9__ Deavey or her partner are usually home before 4:30 p.m., so her son is on his own for just over an hour after a school bus drops him off. "We have a routine we do every day - he calls me as soon as he gets home, we go though how his day was at school, he does any homework he has and has a snack. Now that he's older, he's allowed to go to a friend's house as long as I know where he is."

10__ But as good as a plan is, there can be problems. For instance, Deavey remembers one day when her son didn't make that routine call to her at work. She called the school and found out he was still there because his teacher kept him there late. To avoid future worries, Deavey asked the school to contact her at work if he is ever kept after school again.

11__ At Home on My Own helps children understand how to prevent problems, handle certain situations and keep safely and constructively occupied when adults aren't around. The 13-page booklet is available through the council by calling 613-739-1535, or try the Web site ww.safety-council.org.

12__ It features the cartoon character Latch Turner, a pre-teen who's left at home when his parents are at work. A cartoon with Latch and his cat Click emphasizes several points - that kids should always carry house keys with them, that they should call mom or dad when they arrive home from school, and that they should never answer the door.

13__ Therien suggests that parents who are thinking about giving their kids independence do test runs: Go out for just a few minutes, return and then speak to the kids about their experiences. Then parents can increase the amount of time out.

14__ The booklet encourages parents to do a home-alone safety check with their kids and set up house rules and to have a plan. That way, home alone will be safe.