Supervisory neglect: how are children coping at home

Deciding if children are ready to be left home alone can be a tricky decision. Strange as it may seem, there is no set age for leaving children at home alone. According to the child and welfare policy in Ghana, a child is a person below the age of 18 and   is still largely dependent on an adult for the necessaries of life. But most parents and caregivers have different ideas about what is okay based on their own childhood experiences, cultural expectations and economic or work stress. ‘Home alone’ or other supervisory neglect occurs when parents do not supervise their child, or arrange for adequate supervision in their absence.  This includes children being left in the care of another child who is not old enough to provide responsible supervision. Some parents feel comfortable leaving their children alone on their own without proper care and supervision by an elderly person while others also leave their children in the care of older children. Some situations are likely to arise where parents feel they have little or no choice but to leave their children home. Supervision of children may be needed when parents are at work or out at nights, before and after school, getting children to and from school or other activities, during school holidays, when children are off school, ill, or when playing at the playground or in public places. Though staying home alone can be a positive experience for kids by helping them gain a sense of self-assurance and independence, they need to be safely supervised and well-cared for. Wherever they are, they should feel safe and secure because when they do not get the necessary attention they tend to be affected emotionally and psychologically. Parents might want to know how their children feel about the idea of being left alone to the extent that some of these children are abused. It is advisable that parents think about the area where they live and probably neighbours nearby they trust that can  help their children in case of an emergency since most kids don’t have the maturity and skills to respond to an emergency if they’re alone because children  would not be able to protect themselves in an emergency. Child right activist, Bright Appiah urged that maternity leave should be extended to a year to enable parents cater for their children. Clinical psychologist, Nortey Dua also noted that parenting goes beyond providing money for children. It’s always best for parents to be on the safe side and arrange some other kind of care for their children such as a babysitter or childminder when they are away.

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By Nana Boatemaah Hansen|TV3|]]>