March 8, 2009

At What Age Can a Child Be Left Home Alone?

Back in 2004, My boss at the time was greatly upset because it was announced that children should not be left home alone until they are 12 years old. She was upset because her youngest was about to turn 11, which was the previous age limit.

I have discussed this the past 5 years with some parents I know, and I hate the ignorance is bliss attitude. I don't want to "accidentally" leave my child home alone if they legally shouldn't be. I suppose I'm in a research mood tonight, but I looked it up.

Turns out, in most states, a child as young as 8 can be left home alone. But CPS and the National SAFEKIDS Campaign recommend a child not be younger than 12. And even at 12, if a child is not mature enough, you should wait longer. I won't get into the legality of it all, but it gets more complicated should an issue arise.

I left Cody home a couple weeks ago when I bought paint for the house. He was alone for 1 hour. I felt guilty the entire time I was gone. I felt like I was breaking the law by leaving him home alone. I know he's mature enough to be left alone and that he has been for some time, but I still felt like I was doing something wrong by leaving him alone.

I'm curious, where do you stand? Do you have an 8-year old you let stay home alone? At what age do or will you let your kids be home alone?

4 comments from people we love:

Rachael said...

Wow, you really are the researcher today. I love your car seat posts. Now tell Josh to toughen up, ha ha.

Kymi said...

We leave the older boys (8&11) home often. When we go to the grocery store or when we go run errands. I don't think they are old enough to be left home with Conor (2). But they can take care of themselves. That is my opinion. Howare you doing? Things good?

Meredith said...

Hmmm. I didn't even know there was a LAW about it! I always thought it was up to the parents, and was kind of common knowledge to not let like a 6 year old stay home alone.

Anyway, I think 10 or 11 is old enough. I think the first time my mom left me at home with my sister I was 9; she was gone for maybe 15 minutes.

It's a good question to think about!

Mechelle said...

I think it depends on the child. With Kallie, I felt we could leave her home alone around 10. She was baby sitting at 12.

With Corbin we are just starting to leave him home alone. He is just impulsive and so I don't want to set him up for trouble by giving him more freedom than he can handle.

Holden we might never leave alone. We will see. I think you just have to decide what your child can handle. M