Home Alone-Things to know before you leave your child home alone.
Deciding to leave your child home alone is definitely an area with very gray guidelines. There is only three states that currently have laws regarding minimum age for leaving a child home alone. The dilemma may simply be running to the store to get eggs. It is a parents obligation to assure their child is safe and has the skills and maturity level to handle being safely left alone. Many states offer guidelines however, Nevada does not. Not having set guidelines can leave things up to individual parents code of ethics, morale and ability to soundly make a decision in the best interest of their child.
Most states either via laws or guidance from the local child protective services (CPS) agency will classify leaving children home alone under “adequate supervision of child”. Things to consider when leaving your child home alone include but are not limited to the child’s physical, mental , developmental and social emotional well being as well as the circumstances around leaving them home. When a child is left with less then adequate supervision criminal charges can be filed against the parent and/or inappropriate caregiver. Neglectful and or inadequate supervision means “placing a child in or failing to remove a child from a situation that a reasonable person would realize requires judgement or actions beyond the child’s maturity level, physical condition and or mental abilities and that results in bodily injury or substantial risk of immediate harm to the child. Neglectful situtations account for a high percentage of confirmed child victims of abuse and or neglect.
Some guidelines set out by FINDLAW.com:
- Under 7 – should not be left alone for any period of time.The determining consideration would be the dangers in the environment and the ability of the caretaker to intervene.
- 8-10 years old- Should not be left alone for more then 1 ½ hours and only in day light
- 11-12 years old- Maybe left alone for up to 3 hours, but not at night
- 13-15 Maybe left unsupervised but not over night
When you leave a child home alone you need to first think of their safety. How long will you gone, can they make a meal for themselves, how many children are being left alone, is home secure. Parents and approved caregivers are responsible for the health and safety of children. No child should ever be responsible for caring for a younger child as they are once again just children themselves. Most child care centers will offer affordable drop in rates for those moments in life when you are in a jam. No child should ever be left in a potential unsafe or stresssful environment nor should a child be responsible for the health and safety of another child. Parents need to do what is in the best interest of their child and reach out to community outreach programs for assitance when necessary.
If you need help you can contact Childhelp at 1-800-422-4453 or Las Vegas CPS at 702-455-0000.