by Monica Mendoza
21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — This summer, the 21st Security Forces Squadron was called a few too many times when children were left unsupervised on base or were found wandering through base neighborhoods without adult supervision.
“One time is too many,” said Master Sgt. Keith Lundberg, 21st Security Forces Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of flight operations.
Peterson Air Force Base has Child and Youth Supervision Guidelines, developed in line with Department of Defense Instruction, the 21st Space Wing Family Advocacy Office and the 21st Security Forces Squadron. In a recent memo for all Peterson AFB residents, Col. Stephen N. Whiting, 21st Space Wing commander, underscored the child and youth supervision guidelines, which covers rules and responsibilities for children age birth to 16 years.
“The safety and well-being of children on Peterson AFB is the responsibility of everyone,” he wrote.
On Peterson AFB:
n Children under age 4 cannot be left alone in the house or in the car for any amount of time.
nFive and six-year-olds need to play in the yard or in a park where a parent or an adult can see and hear them.
n Children age 7 to 9 cannot be left home alone, but can walk to and from school unattended.
n Children ages 10 and 11 can stay home alone, but need to be able to reach their parent, guardian or adult by telephone.
n Youth must be 11 years old or in the sixth grade to babysit a younger child for a maximum of two hours and must have access to a parent or adult.
n A 15-year-old can stay home alone or stay in a car alone.
In all cases of the policy, parents need to consider the child’s development and behavior. For example, children who do not consistently demonstrate age-appropriate behavior should not be given the same degree of self-management responsibilities.
“The more shocking incident is when a child wanders away and the parents are oblivious,” Sergeant Lundberg said.
The Child and Youth Supervision Guidelines are given to parents during in-processing, usually at the Right Start classes held at the Airman and Family Readiness Center. Parents also can get copies of the guidelines from first sergeants and Family Advocacy in Building 725. Patrol officers assigned to the residential neighborhoods on base also have copies of the guidelines, Sergeant Lundberg said.
“With our new Falcon patrol officers, we have been able to make more contact with parents,” he said. “That has been a great help to let them know, ‘keep an eye on your kids.’ “
Military members charged with neglect or abuse would fall under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, while civilians could be taken into custody by the Colorado Springs Police Department.
“In our investigation, if we feel it is gross negligence….we can refer them to Family Advocacy,” Sergeant Lundberg said. “The lion’s share of the cases have been inattentive parenting.”
Parent resources and youth resources
n For a copy of the Child and Youth Supervision Guidelines, call Family Advocacy at 556-8943.
nThe R.P. Lee Youth Center offers basic babysitting and advanced babysitting classes for youth age 11 and older. For times, cost and dates call 556-7220.
nThe youth center also hosts a Home Alone Class for youth ages 10 and older. For detail call 556-7220.