October 14, 2002
Whether you are home alone
after school, you babysit the kids down the street, or your parents
get a sitter for you when they go out, there is a feeling of freedom
that comes when there are no adults. That extra freedom and responsibility
can be fun, exciting, and sometimes scary. No one plans for accidents;
that's why they are called accidents. Would you know what to do if
you were alone and there was a problem?
are the leading cause of death in the United States for people aged
1-34. Each year, more than 90,000 people die in the U.S. as a result
of unintentional injuries. During an average year in the U.S., unintentional
injuries account for nearly 31 million emergency room visits."
So what do you do if you
are in a situation where you are the one who is supposed to be responsible,
and you are not sure how to responsibly handle the circumstances that
have just presented themselves? What can you do if the responsible
person (not you) is creating a situation that could be unsafe? What
do you do if you see a situation that could be dangerous, but you
are home alone?
As much as we try to prevent
accidents (and that is the best and easiest way to handle them), sometimes
we need to face the unexpected. Your little sister is choking; your
babysitter is doing things that make you uncomfortable; or you are
alone and the smoke detector starts to beep. Now what? How do you
mentally switch from enjoying the freedom, to handlingthe crisis?
Maybe you could take a babysitting
class to help you think about what might happen, and help you learn
ways to deal with those possible situations (though every possibility
will not be covered, knowing what to do in many situations will help
when the time comes to figure out how to handle others).
Maybe you could look for
articles on the Internet and in magazines that would help you think
about what might happen--and help you learn how to deal with these
situations when they arise....
"But what some teens
don't think about is what an important responsibility it is to be
a babysitter. As long as you're on the job, you're in charge - you
have to make sure the kids are happy, but even more important, it's
up to you to make sure they're safe and their needs are taken care
What it comes down to is:
If there are no other responsible people with you, then you are the
one who is responsible. If there are other responsible people with
you, then you are still responsible for your own actions.
Questions of the Week:
How can parents, teens, and children work together and prepare so
that these new experiences of freedom and fun are more likely to be
pleasant with lower stress for everyone involved? Babysitters, what
would you suggest to those you are watching? If you have a babysitter,
what would you think would make the experience more safe and fun?
Home alone? What would make that experience more stress-free? Being
prepared will not prevent all problems, but it can help, and it will
not do any harm...
Please email me with any ideas or suggestions.
Note: Due to increasing amounts of SPAM sent to this account, please include "QOW" in the subject line when sending me email.
I look forward to reading
what you have to say.
Health Community Coordinator
Access Excellence @ the National Health Museum