Platte County Juvenile Office
Parents and Custodians
What makes a healthy family?
- Commitment - - Family comes first
- Safety - - Families meet the needs of each member; trust and security with each other
- Appreciation - - Family member express love often; this is done verbally and through actions
- Time Together - - Quantity and quality time are present
- Spiritual Wellness - - Parents model character and values; actions reflect those values
- Coping Skills - - Parents use and model positive strategies to handle various pressures of everyday life
- Communication - - Family members express who they are and what they need
At what age can a child be left home alone?
State child abuse and neglect reporting laws do not specify the age at which a child can be left home alone. No consistent community standards exist describing when and under what circumstances children can be left alone or in the care of other children. Information about the age at which it is considered appropriate to leave a child alone may exist elsewhere in your local, county or state policies or ordinances that cover this specific topic.
You may want to contact your local police department or child protective services agency for information about specific local regulations or ordinances.
If you have concerns that a child is being left home alone inappropriately, you should report your concerns to the Children’s Division. The state of Missouri has trained professionals who can evaluate the situation and determine whether intervention and services are needed. The toll free number to report suspected abuse is 1-800-392-3738. The local Platte County Children’s Division phone number is 816-858-3740.
Many national organizations have developed resources and guidelines to help parents make decisions on leaving their children home alone. Listed below are some such guidelines:
What can we do when our child is beyond parental control?
Parenting is a full time job. It is one of the most difficult jobs around. Children do not come with warranties or with operating manuals. Family situations vary. What works for one family, may not work for another. So there is not always a “pat” answer.
The decision to seek help for your child can be difficult and painful. You may know that your child has a problem with emotions or behavior. However, many parents refuse to look honestly at their child’s behavior; they minimize their behavior or deny there is a problem. It is easier to make excuses for their child, blame the school, teachers, family, friends or others. Or attribute the behavior as just a “phase” of adolescence.
Some parents may be covering up for the child, lying for their child, and rescuing the child from their responsibility for their own behaviors. And sometimes it is easier to give in to the child’s demands just to keep the peace even if it means compromising their own values.
Sometimes there are guilty feelings for family situations, such as separation, divorce or past family issues. Parents may also feel isolated, without support from friends or family and think they are the only family whose child is making poor or life threatening decisions. Parents often conceal the extent of their problems from others. It is difficult to parent an angry and manipulative child.
Parents may have taken their child for evaluations or for counseling but the child would not cooperate and resisted this help. Nothing seems to work and it feels like everything has been tried. The situation may seem hopeless but you can help your child and heal your family.
The first step is to take an honest look at your child’s behaviors. Then take an honest look at the reaction you have as a parent to these behaviors. Then, listen to professionals who have experience working with youth, become informed of your child’s issues, be involved by following through on professional advice and treatment plans and build a support system from family, friends and self-help groups.
What is bullying?
Bullying is a form of abuse, harassment, violence, and/or manipulation that harms or frightens other youth. Children act like bullies in several ways—usually when one or more kids use threats, violence, or intimidation to negatively affect someone else. In addition to physical harassment, bullying happens when one kid or a bunch of kids are really mean to someone just to hurt her feelings, laugh at her, show dislike, or prove that one child isn’t as good as the others.
What are the signs of being bullied?
Warning signs that a child is being bullied are: being afraid or unwilling to go to school, having lots of headaches or stomachaches, sleeping poorly or having nightmares, losing interest in school, and suffering academically. More signs to watch for include:
- Comes home with torn, dirty or wet clothes, or damaged books, or “loses” things without being able to give a proper explanation of what happened.
- Has bruises, cuts, scratches, and injuries that can’t be explained.
- Chooses an “illogical” route to and from school.
- Seems unhappy, downhearted, depressed, or has mood swings with sudden outbursts of irritation or anger.
- Steals or asks for extra money to bribe or soften up the bully.
What If Your Child Is Being Bullied?
The best way to know what’s going on in your child’s life—at school, after school, during practice, or while hanging out with friends—is to be involved. Ask lots of questions and listen to their answers.
Try and create a daily routine where your child tells you about his day.
Take the time to listen and respond.
If your child reports feeling bullied, don’t laugh or shrug it away or explain that it’s “just the age.” Bullying is serious—treat it that way. Be prepared to speak to teachers, coaches, and other adults in charge because they may not have noticed the behavior. One possible solution is to have a meeting to discuss what is happening.
Having a Bully-Free Family
How can you stop a child’s bullying behavior? Good question. One way to start is to examine the dynamics of your own family. Is it possible that the child is copying behavior he’s seen modeled? What are your family’s rules about how to talk to each other? Let your children know what’s okay and what’s not okay. Every child needs to learn the importance of treating other people with respect. Make sure your children understand that it’s not right to take advantage or hurt someone just because they feel as if they can.
Humor is a great element to include in your family’s conversations, just make sure to keep it positive. Playful teasing is normal—usually it’s something funny between two people who already know each other. For example, if your child finishes everything on his plate at dinner and his grandparent says, “I guess you weren’t very hungry,” that would be gentle teasing. In contrast, mean teasing is hurtful and is intended to hurt the person’s feelings.
If a child’s behavior seems like bullying to you, it probably is. Parents need to set limits and show what acceptable behavior is. After all, bullying can even happen in the home. If parents ignore behavior they don’t like, they are accepting it. Do not ignore this behavior or hope he’ll grow out of it. Bullying is not something that is likely to disappear. Bullying hurts everybody!
Posting of these resources do not constitute an endorsement by the Platte County Juvenile Office nor does it guarantee the contents of the websites. These are provided for information sharing purposes.