Wed | Oct 18, 2017

Summer raises risks for children

Published:Sunday | July 10, 2016 | 12:00 AMCorey Robinson
A child takes a chance with this bush fire in St Thomas last summer.

More than 53 children have been affected by fires in the first six months of this year. As such, the Child Development Agency (CDA) is urging parents to be very careful as the country goes through the summer months.

"The first thing parents need to decide is if their child is responsible enough to stay home alone. Whether a child is going to stay home alone should depend on the child's maturity and comfort level," said Rosalee Gage-Grey, CEO of the CDA.

"A general rule of thumb is that no child less than 16 years of age should be left alone for any extended period of time.

"For the older children, set ground rules about whether friends can visit when you are absent, and make sure potential poisons like detergents, polishers, and so on, are locked in cabinets out of the reach of children," added Gage-Grey.

She noted that in recent months, CDA first responders visited seven fire scenes in the Corporate Area and, in all instances, it was revealed that children who were engaged in various activities and were not closely supervised were the possible cause of the fires.

Gage-Grey urged parents to schedule activities for children during the summer and try as much as possible to have an adult caregiver close by when children are going to be left alone.

MISSING CHILDREN

She said statistics from the Office of the Children's Registry suggest that approximately 26 per cent of the missing children between 2013 and 2015 disappeared over the summer period.

This was supported by Betty-Ann Blaine, founder of Hear the Children's Cry, who urged parents to ensure their children are safe even as they try to capitalise on entrepreneurship activities during the summer.

"We know that in a lot of communities, many of the adults are unemployed and, in the summer time, they go out trying to make a living by selling and so on. Ask somebody to look out for your children. Do not leave them alone," said Blaine.

"Most children go missing in the summer and the reason for that is that they are not in school. We have seen in the past where children have left home to go swimming, to go out with friends. We want to say to the children, do not go on any of these trips without an adult," added Blaine.

corey.robinson@gleanerjm.com