Summer is here and that means kids are out of school and parents may be figuring out where to take their kids while they’re at work. Some may be asking, ‘When is it okay to leave my child at home alone?”
Heartland parents have mixed opinions on this one. Some say when they pull out of their driveway to go to work, they are confident their kids know how to take care of themselves in the case of an emergency. Others say it's just too risky.
"I have one fixing to be nine, one fixing to be eight, one fixing to be two, and one fixing to be one," Laura Barr said.
Barr is a mother of four.
"I would never leave one of my children home even if they were a teenager,” Barr said.
She said even though she works full-time, leaving her kids home alone isn't an option for her.
"I just think it would be a dangerous situation to leave them and a fire break out or anything,” Barr said.
Child development experts say the decision is ultimately up to parents but generally parents start leaving kids at home alone when they are pre-teens.
"I would probably say 12 is a good age to stay at home,” Becky Moore said.
According to Moore, the key is making sure your child knows what to do in case of an emergency.
"[Make sure they] know who to contact and not be afraid to let their parents know what’s happening throughout the day,” Moore said.
Other child development experts agree.
"Communication is the biggest deal if they're going to be at home,” Kimberly Rueseler said.
Rueseler is also a mother of a 10-year-old.
"We are starting to let our daughter stay home like if I have to run to the store, maybe a few hours in the mornings,” Rueseler said.
Her daughter doesn't stay home alone all day yet, but she and her little brother are already learning what to do in case of emergencies.
"Remington even knows ‘stranger danger,’ and like Becky said, we talk about it here. You just always tell them ‘You don't go outside,’ you know, ‘You don’t open the door.’ The earlier they hear that the better,” Rueseler said.
There's no law stating at what age parents can leave their kids home alone.
However, police say parents should make sure that their child is ready before leaving him or her home alone. They say if something were to happen to the child a parent could be charged.
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