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Ms Chase
Ms Chase, #1 Just Answer Parenting Expert
Category: Parenting
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Legally, can a 17 year old be left home alone for 6 days

Resolved Question:

My husband and I are going out of town, but his 17 yr old son is working 4 of those 6 days and he doesn't want to loose his job by taking the time off to go with us. His grandmother lives 6 blocks away and we can be reached on the phone during the time away.
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Parenting
Expert:  Ms Chase replied 8 years ago.

Hello Snow

Aside from Illinois (age 14) and Maryland (age 8) the law does not stipulate at what age a child can be left home alone. Mainly because age is only one factor to consider when leaving a child alone at home. Other factors include,

  • maturity, their ability to care for themselves and younger children (if applicable)
  • knowing when and when NOT to open a door
  • know the rules about electrical appliances; iron, stove, microwave, toasters, etc. It's best to prepare a snack in advance that doesn't require turning on the stove.
  • what info to give out on the phone/online and to whom
  • rules; they should know them by heart (and you can place them on paper and in plain view, when necessary)
  • know their address and how/when to call 911. Put emergency numbers; hospital, fire dept, poison control, neighbor or friends number in plain view near all phones.
  • child should know to leave the house if a smoke or carbon monoxide detector goes off.
  • and make sure the child knows where you are and when you will be back (call if the plans change). Having a cell phone or pager is optimal, so that the child knows they can reach you at a moments notice.

DO keep in mind that a parent is responsible for the child's safety and security until legal age, so if something happens while they are not home, they can be charged with a multitude of crimes depending on the circumstances.

Let me know if you have any other questions.


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