Soldiers and Families can do their part to keep children safe throughout the year by following the supervision guidelines and curfew enforced by the Fort Campbell Military Police.
With school out of session and children spending more time at home, making sure they’re properly cared for is especially important, said Curtis Brown, team chief, juvenile investigations, Fort Campbell Military Police Investigator. For the most part, Fort Campbell’s youth are well behaved, Brown said. These regulations are in place to keep everyone safe.
“Like most things in the military, these regulations are reactive to situations where somebody wasn’t doing the right thing,” he said.
According to the Supervision of Minor Children on Fort Campbell, CAM Regulation 608-3, children on the installation require adult supervision at all times until age 10. Starting in the fifth grade, they can exercise self-care for short periods – up to three hours for 10-year-olds and six hours for 11-year-olds.
“Kids at that age still need adult access,” Brown said. “They can be playing outside unattended at that age, but an adult has to be nearby, and they can be left in a vehicle with the key removed for no more than 15 minutes.”
If a parent or guardian isn’t available for easy access, they can arrange for another adult to keep an eye on their children in those types of situations. Education on self-care and safety is recommended before leaving a child alone for the first time.
“From ages 11 to 13, kids can be left at home for up to six hours and babysit their siblings,” Brown said. “They’ll have to take a babysitter’s course through Child and Youth Services [at Taylor Youth Center], and they’ll maintain a referral for those who have completed the course.”
Children in the sixth grade can only babysit younger siblings, while seventh graders ages 12 and older can babysit children of other Families – as long as they have ready access to adult supervision if needed. Children ages 14-15 can be left home alone without restrictions and babysit without immediate access to adult supervision, but they need to have guidance for emergency situations and know how to contact their parents.
“Once they turn 16, that’s when children can be left by themselves to sleep overnight somewhere,” Brown said. “From ages 10-15 they can be left alone for certain periods, but they can’t be left overnight.”
Parents and guardians are responsible for following those regulations, which are enforced by the Fort Campbell Military Police.
“Violators will be brought down to the station, and first we’ll figure out what the reason is for the child being left alone,” Brown said. “If we find out they were being negligent ... depending on the state, Tennessee or Kentucky, we have to contact the respective Child Protective Services. It may not warrant them coming out, but we will call and let them know.”
Children and parents should also be mindful of the installation’s curfew, which states children under the age of 18 may not be outside 11 p.m.-6 a.m.
“If you’re out past curfew, first we’ll figure out the reason why,” Brown said. “We know there are petty crimes children do like throwing a rock through a window, so if something happened in the area they may be identified as a suspect, but besides that there’s no penalty.”
Instead, officers issue a verbal warning and contact the juvenile’s parents, especially if it’s their first offense. A second violation or being found committing a crime could lead to probation or community service issued by the Juvenile Review Board.
“If kids get in fights, or it’s something that goes past teachers and the school administration, it’ll go before the board,” Brown said. “Like destruction of property or causing havoc in their neighborhood.”
Officers also can make exceptions for curfew violations at their discretion, which keeps children who are traveling home after work or a sporting event from facing punishment.
“An event like the fireworks display from the other day is an example of a situation where we understand juveniles will be out after curfew,” Brown said. “These regulations are mainly important for structural reasons so we don’t have issues.”