Home Alone in Arizona

The 1990 movie, “Home Alone,” starring Macaulay Culkin, brings comic relief to every parent’s worst nightmare – leaving their child behind.  Kevin McCallister, Culkin’s character in the movie, was left behind by accident when the rest of his family went away on vacation and managed to survive while thwarting a robbery attempt on his home. While the fictional McCallisters may need some parenting tips, what about parents that want to leave children home alone while they go to the store or run an errand?  At what age is it legally allowed to leave kids at home?

According to the Arizona Department of Economic Security’s website, Arizona does not designate an age when a child can be left alone, but it is up to the discretion of the parents.  Child Protective Services (CPS) will investigate if neglect is reported including: “failure to provide supervision that places a child at an unreasonable risk of harm.”

If a case of neglect due to lack of supervision is reported to CPS, they ask some questions in order to determine if being alone is a problem for the particular child in question. These questions can be used by parents as a guideline to decide if their children are ready to stay home alone.

  • Does the child know how to reach the parent?
  • Does the child know how to get help in case of an emergency?
  • Is there a neighbor to go to?
  • Is someone checking in on the child?

Children are the responsibility of their parents, so judgment as to whether a child is ready to be left alone or to care for younger siblings needs to be made carefully and on an individual basis.  One child may be ready at ten years old to be left alone while another may not be ready until they are thirteen. At whatever age you decide to leave your child home alone please consider their maturity and the level of responsibility that is needed to ensure their safety.

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