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B. Why Preteens are Home Alone

Narrator: This is Science Today. New research has found parents of middle-school children aged ten to twelve are at a loss over what to do about a lack of after-school programs. Rivka Polatnick, a senior researcher at the Center for Working Families at the University of California, Berkeley, says once children graduate from elementary school, the supports that working parents had relied on before drop off.

Polatnick: There's very little in the way of full-scale childcare for the after school hours at the middle school stage. So, many families find that home alone becomes the only way out.

Narrator: Polatnick also interviewed middle school children about this trend and found although many welcome this newfound independence, some kids admitted they were lonely or bored being home alone in front of the TV or computer.

Polatnick: So with some kids, there's just basic safety issues, but then beyond that there's the question of what's the optimal way for kids to be spending those hours from three to six and sitting in front of a TV, even if they're safe, is not what's optimal.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin