How Old is Old Enough?

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Home Alone: We often have parents ask us when it is okay to start leaving their children home by themselves. It depends on what state you live in. Most states don’t have laws about specific ages, but do offer parents guidelines through local child protective services. Maryland is one of the few states with a law about this.

Under Maryland law, a child must be at least 8 years old to be left alone in a house or car. It is up to the parent to decide whether a child who is at least 8 is mature enough to be home alone. State law also says a child must be at least 13 years old to baby-sit another child. No child under 13 years old should be left alone with another child in a house or anywhere else. While one of the most important issues is making sure your child knows what to do in case of an emergency, click here to view a list of other issues to consider before leaving your child home alone.

  1. Dela July 5, 2006

    For Maryland’s law, does that mean I cant leave my 2 kids home if they are 10 and 8? WOW!! I’d have to wait til they are 13 and 11 to do that?

  2. ASC July 5, 2006

    Yes, if you’re living in Maryland, you would not be able to leave a 10 and 8 year old home alone together. The reasoning behind this is that it might be too overwhelming for the older child to be responsible for the younger one’s behaviors.

  3. Caroline July 6, 2006

    8 years old seems awfully young to me to be leaving a child home alone. Does the law specify for what length of time, time of day and or night etc…
    It seems very open ended to me, leaving children in harms way.


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