How old does your kid have to be, before you no longer must “watch him like a hawk” in this world of seemingly increasing cases of child abductions?
For this article I consulted with Dr. Marilyn Benoit, MD, Chief Clinical Officer and SVP of Clinical & Professional Affairs of Devereux. Devereux is one of the largest not-for-profit behavioral healthcare organizations in the U.S., helping children and adults with emotional, developmental, educational and cognitive disabilities since 1912.
That really is a tough question, you must admit: What’s the age where children no longer need constant supervision as far as safety from being abducted?
“There is no cut and dry answer here,” begins Dr. Benoit. “It depends on the child and the circumstances. Parents know their children best, and are the best equipped in judging what level of independence is right for their child.”
Another point to consider is that plenty of abductions involve older children and teens. Though older kids can’t be foiled by ruses that are used to lure (and then abduct) young children, they can still wind up in harrowing circumstances, even though they don’t need “supervision.”
Dr. Benoit recommends that older children carry cell phones to use for emergencies. Don’t think that giving older kids cell phones is spoiling them; think of this as equipping them with a potentially life-saving tool.
“I think it is a good strategy to start out small, allowing children to do little things that allow them a little independence, such as allowing them to sleep over at a friend’s house,” explains Dr. Benoit.
She adds: “When my daughter was eight or nine I allowed her and a friend to take a short trip to the corner store – little things like that.”