Massachusetts doesn’t set a specific age at which a child can be left home alone. In Massachusetts, such issues are decided on a case-by-case basis.
Generally, children must live with their parents or guardians until they can function in society independently. Therefore, they must always also be under the supervision of their parents or guardians, especially at home. However, when is the perfect time to leave a child alone in the house? State leaders around the country have been debating this topic for years, and many still do not have steady ground to base this decision on.
The child’s maturity level is taken into consideration with being home alone. The following aspects can be used to analyze how mature a child is:
- Whether the child can care for themselves.
- Whether the child can follow the rules and make wise decisions.
- How the child can respond to urgent situations.
- How the child feels about being alone in the house.
In some instances, it is appropriate for young children to stay home alone. Not only are these reasons valid, but they are also necessary most of the time. Sometimes, it can also mean the difference between the child’s safety in the long run. Every child is different. Therefore, before parents can leave them in the house alone, they must prep their children for certain circumstances that could occur. This action requires coaching the children by asking certain questions and teaching them specific information, like:
- Teaching the children any emergency contact information.
- Scheduling times to call the children while they are at home.
- Showing the children how to use locks and keep them locked.
- Keeping dangerous objects out of the children’s reach.
There is some consequence for unlawfully leaving a child alone. Each state follows the same specific punishments for these parents, but they also may alter some to satisfy the state rules. If it is suspected that a child is unlawfully left alone at home, The Department of Children and Families will begin an investigation to determine the child’s safety in the household. If the investigation shows that the child was in danger while alone, they will be taken into state custody. The parent will also have the potential to be charged with child endangerment or child abandonment, especially if the child is harmed while home alone.
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