How do you know if child is ready to be left home alone?

By Jennifer Waugh, The Morning Show anchor, investigative reporter, jwaugh@wjxt.com
Published On: Aug 28 2014 02:00:24 PM EDT
Updated On: Aug 28 2014 02:01:47 PM EDT

It's something all parents have thought about or are considering: When is it safe to leave my child home alone?

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

Is your child mature enough to stay home alone?

State law does not list an age when it is legal to leave a child home alone. The age is left up to the discretion of a parent or legal guardian.

There are some important questions you should ask first, according to the Department of Children and Families:

Do they know what to do in an emergency?

DCF spokesman John Harrell said parents need to think of all the different worst-case scenarios.

"Would the kid be able to be mature enough, know what to do, to call 911? Do they know their own address so that information can be given to a police dispatcher?

Do they know not to let strangers into the house?

Predators and criminals can be very convincing.

"They may say, 'I know your mom. I know your dad.' Make sure they know not to let a stranger in," Harrell said.

Is an older child mature enough to watch a younger child?

"If you're trusting an older child to watch a young child, you're putting your child's lives in the hands of this child. Would they know what to do to take care of that child, what's appropriate, to not put that child at risk?" Harrell said.

Do they know how to avoid getting hurt?

A child needs to know what activities he/she can do in the home that are safe and which ones to avoid when home alone.

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