“Don’t leave your child alone.” It sounds like a no-brainer — but the realities of military life, with deployments, moves, and other disruptions to your routine, make it hard to ensure your kids are always supervised, or to understand and follow child supervision guidelines closely.
Common examples of inadequate child supervision that can harm kids include:
- Leaving a child at home alone
- Leaving a child in a car alone
- A child’s escaping from the home unnoticed
- Leaving a child in a public area (such as a playground) and assuming that other adults or children will provide oversight
- Using baby monitors to “watch” children when you’re outside your home
Call 800-342-9647 to get more information from Military OneSource on supervision guidelines and child care options to help keep your military kids safe.
Did you know?
800-342-9647 to get more information from Military OneSource on supervision and child care.
- Many states have laws or guidelines that define at what ages, and for how long, children can be left alone. Installations may also have specific guidelines for military families living on base.
- Inadequate child supervision is known to create a higher risk for childhood injuries.
- In recent years, leaving a child alone, or unsupervised with another young child, has caused over half of child deaths involving bathtubs or bath-related products.
- Heat stroke is the leading cause of non-crash vehicle-related deaths in children. The temperature in children left in a locked car with all the windows closed can rise quickly — three to five times faster than in adults. This article from the American Academy of Pediatrics has more information on extreme heat safety measures.
You can help prevent neglectful situations by reporting inadequate supervision of military children to the Family Advocacy Program.
Get your state and installation guidelines.
Guidelines or laws for the minimum age that children can be left alone vary among states (for example, Georgia suggests 8 as the minimum age, while Tennessee recommends 10), and installations have separate policies for military families to follow (for example, the Camp Pendleton policy states that children under 12 cannot be left alone at home).
Call 800-342-9647 to ask the Military OneSource call center for help finding the state and installation guidelines or laws you need for supervising your kids.
Even if your child has reached the minimum age to be left alone where you live, that's not the only factor that determines whether your son or daughter is ready to be left unsupervised. Review this Child Welfare Information Gateway resource to learn what else you need to consider.
Find military family child care options.
Ensuring your children are looked after, even when you’re not around, is the best way to prevent unsafe situations. Military families have access to several child care options, including programs at Child Development Centers on installations and off-base military programs for families who don’t live near an installation.
Consider these child care options for your family, and plan ahead as much as possible so your kids properly are supervised when you can’t be there.
Know when your kids can walk around by themselves.
tips on what to consider when leaving a child home alone.
Before you allow your kids to walk by themselves to the bus stop, or home from school, or to piano lessons, check the local laws or guidelines. While your children may be legally considered old enough, it’s up to you to judge whether they’re mature enough once they’ve reached the minimum age. You know your kids best: Before you send them off, see how they feel about it, take a few practice walks, and discuss safety tips. Plan their routes, and check with your state Safe Routes to School coordinator for more information. Visit the National Center for Safe Routes to School website to find your state coordinator and get other safety tips.