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how old does a child in the state of texas have to be ...

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how old does a child in the state of texas have to be before they can stay at home alone?
Texas does not provide any specific age when a child can stay home alone. Instead the rule is that a child who is mentally mature and capable of handling any emergency situation that may come when left alone is a child who is ready to stay home alone. The responsibility is placed on the parent to assess their child. In general a child should not be left alone without supervision if they can be exposed to a risk of harm or abuse.

This is how the Department of Health and Services addresses this situation.

Home Alone Guidelines

When is it okay for a child to stay alone without an adult's supervision and care?

When is it okay for a child to stay alone without an adult's supervision and care? No Texas law specifies an age, but the law says that a child should not be "placed in a situation that a reasonable person would realize requires judgment or action beyond the child's level of maturity, physical condition, or mental abilities." Pre-school children cannot be left alone, as they are not capable of caring for themselves.

When deciding if your school-age child can stay home alone, think about the child's age, abilities, maturity, behavior, and judgement. Also, consider the length of time plus the activities in and around your home aneighborhood.

Does your child:

  • Feel safe and comfortable being home alone?
  • Know how to call 911, you, and other emergency numbers?
  • Know where the emergency phone numbers and the home address are posted by the telephone?
  • Know basic first aid and where to find your first aid kit?
  • Know the fire exits in your home in case of a fire?
  • Know the family's plan for emergencies and what neighbor or relative will be available?
  • Know all safety rules, including limits for using the microwave, stove, oven, scissors, knives, and other potentially dangerous items while you are away?
  • Know how to handle telephone calls? How to use the answering machine to screen calls? Which calls to answer? Or to tell callers that their parent "is busy"?
  • Know to never answer the door or to allow strangers in the house?
  • Know to call you first before allowing any unexpected, know person to enter?
  • Know not to enter the house if something looks different and to immediately call you from a neighbnor's house?
  • Know to lock the doors once inside the house?
  • Know and use internet safety rules?
  • After doing the above and knowing your child's abilities, have you:

  • Arranged for a reliable and trustworthy, nearby friend, neighbor, or relative to be availble for your child?
  • Posted emergency numbers and practiced with your child drills for fires and other emergencies?
  • Set the guidelines with your child about activities and guests while alone?
  • Deciding if the arrangement is working for your child:

  • Start with very brief absences.
  • Call while away.
  • Drop in.
  • After being away, talk with your child. Find out:
    1. Are the family's rules being observed?
    2. Are your child's activities what you have agreed upon?
    3. If siblings are staying alone together, how do they get along without you?
  • What have trusted neighbors observed?

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