At what age do you think it should be legal for a child to be at home alone, or to look after younger siblings?
Right now, the State of Illinois says that number is 14 (the strictest such law in the nation for more than 25 years), but one Republican lawmaker wants that changed to 12.
Joe Sosnowski of Rockford says this law started when a St. Charles couple left their 9- and 4-year-old girls at home while they vacationed in Mexico in 1992. Two days into the trip, a fire alarm went off, and the children went to a neighbor’s house for help before later being picked up by child welfare agents.
I’m thinking that, if they’re going to regulate this… there should be different tiers. There is a difference between leaving your child home while you run to the grocery store and leaving your child home while you go to Aruba, right???
Sosnowski is sponsoring House Bill 2334, which would lower the state’s legal age limit for leaving children unsupervised to 12. The bill passed unanimously out of the House Judiciary – Criminal Committee in early March.
Sosnowski says he wants to lower the age to create some flexibility for parents to be able to decide and be responsible for their own children.
Some states have no legal restrictions, while others, like Kansas (6) and North Carolina (8), set the age much lower. No other state has a legal age of older than 12.
I think that the tricky thing here is that every child sits at their own maturity level. My nephew is 9 years old and I believe he would be OK to be left alone while my sister goes grocery shopping (even though he still hasn’t been left home alone like that yet). There are some pre-teens that I know that are a heck of a lot more responsible than some 18-year-olds that I’ve met. So I really do think that it should be up to the parents.
I know a lot of people think that it’s silly that the government is “meddling” somewhere where parents should be in control but I’m guessing the real issue here is less about a child’s maturity level and more about irresponsible parents that would do whatever they want if there wasn’t some sort of restriction. If the number 12 isn’t put on paper, sadly I’m sure we’d see parents leaving their 1st graders at home alone because there wasn’t a formal rule.
What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below!