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How Young Is Too Young To Leave Kids Home Alone?

feldman_amy Amy Feldman
Amy E. Feldman is a business commentator and legal business...
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By Amy E. Feldman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – How young is too young, legally, to leave a kid home alone?

Basketball player Allen Iverson was famous for not going to practice when he was on the Sixers – “It’s practice. It’s not a game. It’s practice”. But at a custody hearing for his kids, who range in age from 2-14, the Judge informed him quite clearly that parenting isn’t a game, and that leaving the kids home alone, is unacceptable.

What does the law say about what age can you leave a child home alone? There is no federal law that governs the age at which a child can be left home alone, and even most states are silent on the matter. Among the states that do have a minimum age at which you can leave your kid home alone, Maryland has the lowest age of 8 and Illinois the highest at age 14.

The National Safe Kids Campaign recommends children not be left home alone until age 12, but urges parents to consider both age and maturity because while children ages 7 to 10 generally can’t self regulate for an extended period, they may be able to be alone in a predictable routine and environment like home after school.

In any event, it is quite clear to anyone with kids that good parenting takes a lot of practice.