Home Alone OK at What Age?


Do you recall the youngest age you were ever left alone?

How young is too young to be alone?

imageJoin us at 800-944-8443 for a heallthy discussion about this in a Canadian court. Could it reach the United States and families?

How Young Is Too Young to Be Left Home Alone? Laws, experts, and parents disagree on what age a child is mature enough to be left at home unsupervised. By Ellen Sturm Niz

One day in the mid 1980s, when I was about 11, I came home from school and turned on the TV. An after-school special was on about “latchkey kids” and their sad, sad lives—left alone at home while their parents worked, at risk of danger and getting into shenanigans. I felt really bad for these poor latchkey kids, and then I realized, “Wait, I’m alone after school because my parents are at work. I’m a latchkey kid!” But I actually enjoyed being alone, wasn’t about to turn on the stove and risk burning the house down, and didn’t feel vulnerable to bad influences luring me into taboo activities. “Hmm,” I thought. “I think this after-school special might be over-dramatizing things a bit.”

Fast-forward three decades and the debate over if and when kids should be left alone rages on. Just this week, Canada’s British Columbia Supreme Court ruled that an 8-year-old boy is too young to stay at home alone from 3 to 5 p.m., no matter how mature his mother believes him to be.

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