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February 16, 2004
Nearly 7 million school-age children per year are regularly left home alone, according to a recent report by the Census Bureau. These days, children often take on more responsibility at an earlier age and as a result, feel that they are old enough to stay home alone. Here are some tips from the National SAFE KIDS Campaign:
It is important to remember that the decision to leave children unattended may be subject to state law. Area child protection services can provide information on state child abuse and neglect laws that address the age children can legally be left home alone. Minimum age requirements for unattended children generally range from 12 to 13 years of age. The National SAFE KIDS Campaign recommends that children are not left alone before the age of 12.
Parents and caregivers should begin leaving children home alone progressively – for only a short time, at first, and stay relatively close to home.
To ensure a child’s safety when staying at home alone, the National SAFE KIDS Campaign recommends parents and caregivers follow these safety tips:
If possible, leave your beeper or cellular phone number. Knowing your child can reach you in an instant will help put you, and your child, more at ease.
For more information about protecting your children when they are home alone, please visit the National Safe Kids Campaign .