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Question of the Week

October 14, 2002

Hello!

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?

"Unintentional injuries 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." http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/duip/duip.htm

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 of." http://www.kidshealth.org/teen/school_jobs/jobs/babysit.html

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.

Cindy
aehealth@yahoo.com
Health Community Coordinator
Access Excellence @ the National Health Museum
http://www.accessexcellence.org

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