Police: Home Alone How Long?

Pelham police respond to report of unsupervised minor.


Pelham police assisted Children's Protective Service with an investigation of a child reportedly left unsupervised last week. 

Last Wednesday, police and a social worker visited a Fifth Ave. apartment and discovered a 16 year old had been living for an extended period without parental supervision.

The teen reportedly told police he had been home alone for a month while his father traveled to China on business. When police spoke to the boy's father, he said he didn't know there was a problem with leaving the child alone. 

The house was reportedly clean and well stocked with food.

Police left the boy in the custody of an adult family friend residing in the same building.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offers resources on its Child Welfare Information Gateway. According to their website, only Maryland and Illinois have laws specifying the minimum age a child can be left home alone.

The New York State Office of Children and Family Services offer these guidelines for deciding whether you child can handle being home alone:

  • Consider the child: How mature is the child? How comfortable is the child with the circumstances? What has the child done in the past to show you he/she is able to take on this kind of responsibility?
  • Consider the child’s knowledge and ability: Does the child know how and when to contact emergency help? Is the child able to prepare food for him/herself? Are there hazards to the child in the environment such as accessible knives, power tools, a stove or oven?
  • Consider the circumstances: Where will the child be when left alone? How long is the child to be alone?

What do you think is an appropriate age to leave a child at home unsupervised? How long a period is appropriate?

Nummy February 22, 2013 at 11:35 PM
Depends how mature the child is, I'm in my fifty's and still not mature enough to be left alone.
Renea Henry February 23, 2013 at 12:01 AM
I got my first housekey in fourth or fifth grade, but I don't think my parents would leave me home alone for more than a few days even now :)
B February 25, 2013 at 04:29 PM
You can get married and drive a car at 16 but you cannot stay home alone in a clean house well stocked with food?
Daniel S February 25, 2013 at 04:32 PM
The father stated he didn't know there was a problem leaving the child alone. The NYS Office of Child & Family Services offer these guidelines.... And HOW do they know the father DIDN'T follow those guidelines when determining whether or not to leave the child? There was also an adult relative in the same building, so who's to say the child was unsupervised? Just because the child was alone in the apartment, doesn't mean he wasn't being looked after. The apartment was well stocked with food & well cleaned, sounds like the kid is more responsible & mature that the Police & CPS give him credit for.


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