As the Director of the Verano After School Program, children are always on my radar. As I’m sure you can imagine their welfare and safety are my top priority. Lately, I have noticed quite a few very young children (under the age of 5) in our community playing in the areas surrounding their apartments without supervision. This is concerning for several reasons. While it is true that Verano is a safe community, and that Irvine is often listed as one of the safest cities in the United States, there are other risks that need to be considered. It is NOT my intent to tell any parent how to raise their child. It is however, part of my job to provide community education on parenting issues. Here are some facts to consider:
Unintentional injuries…are the leading cause of morbidity and mortality among children in the United States. (“CDC Childhood Injury Report.” http://www.cdc.gov/ 4 Oct. 2012.)
“Most of these injuries can be prevented. Often, injuries happen because parents are not aware of what their children can do. Children learn fast, and before you know it your child will be jumping, running, riding a tricycle, and using tools. Your child is at special risk for injuries from falls, drowning, poisons, burns, and car crashes. Your child doesn’t understand dangers or remember “no” while playing and exploring.( http://www.healthychildren.org/English/tips-tools/Pages/Safety-for-Your-Child-2-to-4-Years.aspx 4 Oct, 2012)
Here’s the bottom line…
Developmentally, very young children are not ready to be left without direct supervision. They are still developing the executive functioning skills that help them with impulsivity (like running into the street after a ball). Please be mindful of the limitations that your child might have in being able to make safe choices. For more information on developmental milestones of children, please visit: http://www.safekids.org/assets/docs/for-educators/lesson-plan-child-development-stages-teaching-guide.ppt or http://ockeepkidssafe.org/pdfs/parent_mats/3_5years.pdf .
Director, Verano After School and Summer Program