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When Is It Okay For A Child To Stay Alone Without An Adult's Supervision & 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 a neighborhood.

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 neighbor's house?
  • Know to lock the doors once inside the house?
  • Know and use internet safety rules?

After Doing The Above & Knowing Your Child's Abilities, Have You:

  • Arranged for a reliable and trustworthy, nearby friend, neighbor, or relative to be available 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:

  • Are the family's rules being observed?
  • Are your child's activities what you have agreed upon?
  • If siblings are staying alone together, how do they get along without you?
  • What have trusted neighbors observed?

Fathers For Equal Rights is such a great help to people in need!
  -- Joe & Rachel B. - Fort Worth, TX

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