At What Age Can a Child Be Left Home Alone?

Do you remember how old you were when you stopped needing a babysitter? It is common for parents to question how old their children should be before leaving them home alone. Children vary in intellect, maturity, and emotional intelligence, so no one situation is the same. One 10 year old might be perfectly capable of being left alone for a few hours, while another in comparison might not.

So which age constitutes child neglect? If you are wondering what age is an appropriate age to be left unsupervised, continue reading to learn what social workers, pediatricians, and other parents like yourself are saying.

Indiana Child Injury Lawyers 317-881-2700
Indiana Child Injury Lawyers 317-881-2700

Social Workers

According to a survey given to 485 members of the National Association of Social Workers, the majority of social workers surveyed agreed that 12 years old is generally a safe age to be left unsupervised. However, a small percentage of social workers suggested that leaving a 12 year old home alone would be child neglect, while an even smaller percentage thought leaving a 14 year old home alone would also be negligent. In the same group of social workers surveyed, almost all agreed that 6 years old was too young to be left home alone, 83% agreed that 8 years old was too young, and 10% thought 10 years old was too young.


Dr. Charles Jennissen, a clinical professor of pediatrics and emergency medicine at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine in Iowa City, suggests that 12 years old is an acceptable age to leave a child unsupervised for a short amount of time. According to him, “Every child is different, of course, and every situation may be different, but overall these social workers say that kids really shouldn’t be home alone under the age of at least 12.” He went on to say, ““I think in that 10- to 12-year age, depending on your child and so forth, one can start thinking about whether it’s OK or not to leave them home alone (…) it depends a lot on the situation. (…) Some kids may not be developmentally ready to be home alone for certain periods or they may have health concerns that make being left unsupervised a bad idea.”

According to Dr. Suzanne Haney, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Child Abuse and Neglect and the division chief of child abuse pediatrics at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, “I certainly agree that 12 years of age and up for the most part, depending on how they are developmentally, is probably OK, but there also are 12-year-olds who are not able to handle it (…) so it’s really hard to give a safe age because of all the factors that play into it. We have lots of kids who have learning disabilities or cognitive disabilities or behavioral issues and they may be 14 and they’re not safe.”

Read Original Article From NBC News, here.

Negligent Supervision Laws in Indiana

Most states do not have laws that govern leaving a child home alone. However, all states have negligent supervision laws, which might limit when and when you cannot leave a child home alone. Furthermore, these laws govern the limit to whom you can leave your child in the supervision of, and to what extent. You see, anyone appointed the responsibility of caring for the safety and well-being of a minor (under the age of 18) also has a legal duty of care. If someone in a similar role neglects this duty of care in a way that causes a minor harm, they can be held legally responsible for the damages and losses suffered at the hands of the victim, and perhaps even their extended families. See our blog, “Defining “Duty of Care” in a Personal Injury Lawsuit” to learn more about your duty of care.

Was Your Child Left Unattended in a Negligent Way?

Ultimately, it comes down to your best judgement as a parent. Not only must you decide when your child is ready to be left home alone, you must also decide who is qualified to look after your child in your absence. If you believe your child was injured as a result of negligent supervision, whether with a teacher, daycare, babysitter, or friend, contact an Indianapolis personal injury lawyer to discuss your case and the best strategies for recovering compensation for your and your child’s damages and losses.

Indianapolis Child Injury Lawyers

Call Craven, Hoover, and Blazek P.C. at 317-881-2700 to schedule a free consultation with our licensed Indianapolis child injury lawyers who can determine the best strategies for your child injury lawsuit. Not only does our law firm offer free consultations, we never collect lawyer fees unless we prevail for you! Call 317-881-2700 to get started on your financial recovery, today.  We represent injured persons throughout Indiana.

Indianapolis Personal Injury Lawyers 317-881-2700
Indianapolis Personal Injury Lawyers 317-881-2700