At what age can you leave your child home with a sibling for under an hour?

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Michelle - posted on 04/13/2011

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I believe legally speaking your child has to be 12 to be left at home alone. I can't recall the exact age to be left with another younger child. It doesn't matter for how long. If you're caught, I believe you can be charged with neglect. Now most people don't get caught and plenty of people let their kids be home alone a lot younger but that's what is legal in Colorado anyway. I personally would say 14 is probably when they are mature enough to do that. Some of it depends on the individual kid and their maturity and it also depends on the circumstances. It only takes once for something really horrible to happen so I guess you have to weigh carefully whether your child is ready to do that.

Candi - posted on 04/13/2011

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My son is 12 and about once every 2 or 3 weeks I will leave him alone long enough to run to the store. I would never let one of his sisters stay home with him though. That would be stupid on my part! lol. The only rule, if he gets to stay home, he has to clean the house or shower. Sometimes it happens....but most of the time...well he is 12, so you know the rest of the story..
However, my kids are not allowed to roam the streets and if they want to ride bikes, they HAVE to go together and stay together. My 5 y/o is not allowed anywhere without me!

Elfrieda - posted on 04/11/2011

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I tend to think that leaving a few kids, when the youngest is at least 4 and the oldest is responsible, to run to the store is fine. If it were only one child, I would be more nervous.



My sister and I were left at home for short periods of time when we were 8 and 5. We were extremely proud of ourselves. We also backpacked through Europe when we were 19 and 16. My parents died a little every day, but we tried to call or email daily and had a wonderful experience!



Parents are meant to worry, that's part of being a parent. But to deny your children the opportunities to grow and be independant is extremely bad parenting, in my opinion.



I will not be the mom who doesn't let her kids climb trees for fear of broken necks, walk to the park alone for fear of perverts, or help in the kitchen for fear of cuts and burns. I want my child(ren) to be capable and sensible and I think that dealing with potentially dangerous situations in increasing doses of responsibility is the best way to do that.



My son is only 15 months old, but I am already steeling my nerves for all the times I'm going to have to let go and let him try something risky. I want him to grow into a man, not a wimpy man-child who is nervous about everything and has no skills or confidence, and I think that is the lesson we teach when we guard their physical safety above all else.

Amie - posted on 02/12/2009

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So very sorry for your loss! I guess that, by Wash. law, as long as they have no trouble and don't get into any, then you're in the clear. In your situation I would just use my best judgement on their maturity and how well they can handle it and say a prayer!

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Kayla - posted on 11/20/2012

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When I was I think 7 and my sister was 5, we walked home from school by ourselves and we were alone for 3 hours before my mom got home from work. She didn't really have a choice, my dad wasn't there and she had to work. We were always very responsible, we had to grow up quickly. Personally, I wouldn't want to leave my kids home alone that young. I think it depends on the age of all kids, not just the oldest one. For example I may leave a 12 year old with a 8 or 10 year old, but not with a baby. Just my opinion

Susan - posted on 11/16/2012

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I don't know about other states but in NC it should be against the law to leave a 10 yr old girl in charge of her two sisters under the age of 4 all day long when she can't pay a sitter for that day and Mon- Fri. every week from 5-7 PM and sometimes later.

Hope - posted on 04/13/2011

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I think I remember hearing about this on the radio, a mom had a 10yr old watching a 1 yr old for an hour or so and was prosecuted for child neglect. Personally, I think the oldest child should be mid-teenager and responsible with the maturity to not : call friends for a party; leave little one alone; not answer door/phone while parent is gone for an hour at most. The littlest one should be about age 3 or so. In this case, it would have to be for an extreme circumstance where the parent had to leave the house for a short time, an hour at most. Mostly it depends upon the maturity of the eldest child watching the little one. good luck.

Jenny - posted on 04/11/2011

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Sometimes parents have no choice. My mum used to leave my 3 year old brother at home by him self for about an hour while she went to the town center to line up and get milk and bread for her family. Without this we would have had no food for the day. Imagine putting a law stating they shouldnt be left alone till 13 under such circumstances!

If you have no choice, do it, if you have a choice, better to be safe than sorry.

Shannon - posted on 04/11/2011

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I have 4 kids, 16, 13, 6 and 4. I have raised them to be mature, thoughtful children and i can trust my older 2 to watch my younger 2, they do get compensated anytime they are asked to babysit so it is not like i am "using" them, it gives them responsibilty and also shows them that they can EARN their own money rather than have me just hand everything to them. I had to take my eldest to the hospital emergency room last night (nothing serious thankfully) and i left my younger 2 children at home with my husband and i wish i had left my 13 yr old in charge instead!! i found a lovely mural made of fingernail polish and markers leading up my stairway and nearly had a canary when i walked in to find my husband asleep with the younger two rearranging my furniture in the living room......I feel that if you are comfortable with your child's maturity level and you know you can trust them to do the right thing while you run to the corner store then by all means do so. Wishing you all the best.

Louise - posted on 04/11/2011

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I dont think even popping out for a few minutes to a neighbours is safe,There are such things as fires,or anything could go wrong.My eldest is always asking to play out and i dont let him.Only on the garden or at a friends house or a friend is allowed at ours.Any how i wouldnt ever ask my elder kids to watch there younger siblings as i dont think its fair to ask that of them.I would pay a responsible adult instead.Kids are still immature at 13,14 and 15, to much into computers or there friends and dont concentrate enough to show responsibility.

Kelly - posted on 02/15/2009

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Tiffany-you know something that really always bothers me? I hate the term "single parent" because it can be so different for different people. I mean, you by no means chose to raise your children alone (I am so sorry!) and you sound responsible and caring. And yet, because of this term "single parent" that is thrown around all over the place, you are lumped in with women who choose to have baby after baby, living often on public assistance or the goodness of family and friends, not providing for the children, many times bringing dangerous living conditions to their children (such as abusive boyfriends), and often expecting and even demanding sypathy and extra understanding and help from society. Oh well, sorry to even get started on that subject, it just bothers me...

Kelly - posted on 02/15/2009

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JJ-ya know, not only are there "creeps" out there, but don't you even worry about other things with these kids you see out alone? I mean like vicous dog attacks, or accidentally being hit by a car or something. One time I read something, I think maybe it was Ann Landers, saying that "being a mother means never again reading a newspaper without thinking 'that could be my child' ". Doesn't that just say it all?

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Kelly- its good to know im not the only one! I see little kids in my neighborhood playing outside or walking down the street all the time and granted we live in a very safe neighborhood, that doesn't mean creeps from the bad side of town wont come over to our side! I almost pulled my daughter off of her cheer team because the coaches just let them go and try to find their parents on their own after a competition last weekend that was out of town!

Kelly - posted on 02/13/2009

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JJ-I know what you mean! To me, it is a lot different leaving them alone in the house, than to let them be out alone, as in walking to school. I always think about the kids getting off the school bus, that some nut could follow the bus and see what age and how many kids get off where. Since my 7-year-old gets off the buss alone at our house, I have arranged with the bus driver to not let her off unless I am OUT THERE. Luckily, we are the last house on the route, so one time she was early and she sat out there and blew the horn until I came running out. Another time she was early, she pulled away and headed back to school with her. I ran out but she didn't see me, so I had to grab the little one up from her nap and hop in the car and chase her down. I was so grateful that she would keep her safe though! Oh, the things we have to worry about -- I wonder what our parents worried about, or did they just have it easy?

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I personally do not think I would leave my child alone under the age of 13. And I will probably not let my oldest babysit her brothers until she 14, because then they will be 10 and 8, and boys are crazy!! I am paranoid about my kids though. I dont think I would ever let my daughter walk to school. . ever!!! Even though we live literally around the corner from the school. The world has changed since I was little and I dont trust people!

Kelly - posted on 02/13/2009

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Apparently it varies by state, but we were told by Social Services (while taking classes to be licensed as a foster family), that there is no set age in North Carolina. For me, it would depend on of course the child's maturity and trustworthiness, and also how safe the area is where you live. We live in a rural area "where nothing every happens" (but who wants to be the one it finally happens to, right?). I started letting the older ones stay home for a couple of hours (when I was not going far away) probably at 10 or 11. This of course didn't happen very often. I started running to the grocery store and leaving all four home for an hour or so when the baby was close to a year old. I was fortunate to have the older kids, at 14 and 12 then, who have always been very responsible and get along very well. I think that would be a big part of it; I've never really had to worry about them fighting. One thing that was funny, one time our oldest was watching the girls while my husband and I were at a banquet with #2, just a half mile from home at our church. When we got home we were told that his girlfriend and her aunt had been out walking, and it so happened to coincide with a very bad messy diaper, so he had them come in and change the baby! Ya gotta' love small towns. Sometimes, it really is so much easier to go out for a few minutes without little ones to get in and out of car seats! Good luck finding a solution for your family!

Jini - posted on 02/12/2009

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I totally understand what you are saying.  I wouldn't judge you but sadly there are people out there who do.  Depending on how old they are, its not like you are going out on the town all night long.  I think you are fine.

Tiffany - posted on 02/12/2009

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I am from Washington State, and from what I have found in my search, there is not an age requirement. The result being that if your child gets into trouble; you can and may be held responsinable. Well, if we leave them; that is a choice we have already made. I am a single mother, not by choice. I lost my husband to cancer last year. I have no one to help me and sometimes it's is easier to run up to the mini mart to buy milk with out my kids. It only takes a few minutes, but I would never want to break the law and risk losing my kids. Can this get me in trouble?

Amie - posted on 02/12/2009

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There actually is a certain age by law depending on the state. In Ohio you're not allowed to leave a child home alone until they are either 12, and at 13 they are legally allowed to babysit. Just check your local state laws to see what ages they deem fit.

Jini - posted on 02/12/2009

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I had that same question.  By law is there a surtain age?  What if you have a very responsible child.  I ran to the neighbors house before for a little while and my 8 yr old was home by himself playing video games.  He knows he isn't allowed to answer the door or the phone and it works out well.  Now I wouldn't leave his younger brothers with him, that would be asking for it.  He wouldn't pay attention to what is going on around him.  I don't know a good answer because I am looking for one myself.

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