Children staying home alone

Check out the National Child Care Information Center.
I found this:
Children Home Alone and Babysitter Age Guidelines

Most States do not have regulations or laws about when a child is considered old enough to care for him/herself or to care for other children. Currently Illinois and Maryland have laws addressing this topic. States may have guidelines or recommendations. These guidelines are most often distributed through child protective services and are administered at the county level.
Contact the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information (NCCANCH) at 800-394-3366, and staff there will refer you to your local child protective services agency to learn about age guidelines in your area.

The following organization and publications contain information about these topics:

National organization
State laws in Illinois and Maryland;
Examples of child supervision guidelines;
Examples of babysitter guidelines;
Demographic information about the number of children in self-care; and
Information about how to prepare children to stay home alone and to be babysitters.

A woman that I used to work with had DSS called on her for letting her 12 year old stay at home for an hour after getting off the bus. She was told that the age was 13, but that’s been years ago. I would say, do your homework. Make sure that your son and nephew are old enough for NC law, if there is NC law, and then make your own judgement. If your grandparents live next door, let them know that the boys are going to be staying at your house and they will have a list of chores to complete daily. You do not have to inform them that you have checked on the age guidelines with the State already.
I understand the frustration, they are your grandparents and you were probably taught like I was to respect your elders. It may not hurt to let them know that you appreciate all they have done for you while reminding them that you are the boys parents/guardian and this is the way you want things done.

Thanks for the advice.
I have called Social Services for our county and they informed me that as long as I felt the child was responsible and that the child felt comfortable staying home that it was up to me. There was not a thing anyone could do.

My grandparents are now threating to call my son’s father and talk him to getting my son to come and live with him. What they do not realize is that my son does wish to live with his father and even if my some weird turn of events and he got custody…they would never see him. So why are they making this so difficult? This morning my grandmother called my father, she told him to come to her house after lunch and she was going to hav ethe boys to walk up to her house and stay with him so she and my grandfather could go to town. The last time I checked it was name on the Birth-certificate not her’s. She has no right to make arrangements without my consent. My father is an achololic who has never really had much to do with any of his grandchildren, I would rather that the boys just stay by themselves than to sit with him and who said it was okay for them to go to her house? She is controlling beyond belief. I wish I could just move away and never have to deal with them interferring in my life again. This really making things hard on us.

Sorry for the mis-spelling, I am very upset right now.

My son does not wish to live with his father.

The only advice I can give you is for you and your husband to tell your son and nephew that they are forbidden to leave the property, to go anywhere with anyone without calling you and getting permission. It’s not going to be easy, but you will need to tell your grandparents that you do not want the boys leaving your property and that they need to respect your authority. If it comes down to it legally, even though they are family members, it could be considered kidnapping, especially since you have no knowledge of their whereabouts and have not given consent. In the situation you mentioned earlier, instead of leaving a message with your grandparents, I would have left work, gone home, and called the police. If they complained about it you could honestly tell them that you did not know where they were and were worried. You could then tell them, in front of police witness that they are not to take the children from your house, especially without your knowledge or consent. You may also want to let them know that his father has no say on this situation as long as he is not harmed or neglected.

Eventually, you need to take back control of your son. You’re going to have to explain it to him also and let him know that you and your husband are strong enough people to handle the situation and all he needs to do is be a kid while he still can. This isn’t his fault and he should not be forced to give in to protect their feelings or to keep her from mistreating you. If you forbid him to leave the property, then he will be violating your rules and should be punished. This lets him off the hook of being the “bad guy” with your grandparents. Good Luck and keep us posted.

Thank you for your support.

I think that once school begins things will clam down but as far as I’m concerned…I wish to distance myself as well from my grandparents.

They took me away from my parents when I was only Eleven. They convinced me that I would be better staying with them and not changing schools after my parents separated and my mother moved to another city with my sister, who was younger than me. I guess my mother and father just did not want to fight with her to get me back.

I have been fighting with thenm for years just to keep what I have now. I’m working very hard to break this cycle so that my son does not have to deal with this behavior in his life. Keep me in your thoughts as I will need all the support I can get. Thank you!

Dear patricia1:

Greetings. There are no hard and fast rules that I know about whether or not a child of 13 and/or 14 can stay at home alone. I do remember being 13 and 14 though and I can honestly say that I would have gotten into some trouble (and probably did) if I was left alone for too long.

There are many, many latch key kids. If the other spouse is available to be with the kids, then let them at that time, as long as they send the kids home when they are supposed to be home (like when you get off work). Thank you.

Janet L. Fritts
Attorney with Rosen Law Firm

4101 Lake Boone Trail, Suite 500
Raleigh, North Carolina 27607
919.787.6668 main phone
919.256.1665 direct fax

301 McCullough Drive Suite 510
Charlotte, North Carolina 28262
704.644.2831 main voice
704.307.4595 main fax

1829 East Franklin Street, Bldg 600
Chapel Hill, NC 27514
919.321.0780 main phone
919.787.6668 main fax


The response posted above is based upon the limited factual information made available and is not intended as a full and complete response to the question. The only reliable manner to obtain complete and adequate legal advice is to consult with an attorney, fully explain your situation, and allow the attorney sufficient opportunity to research the applicable law and facts required to render an accurate opinion. The basic information provided above is intended as a public service but a full discussion with an attorney should be undertaken before taking any action.

DSS says a child can stay home alone at the age of 8.

I have a fourteen year old son and my husband’s thirteen year old nephew who wants to stay home alone these last few weeks before school begins. My question is are they old enough to do so? What is if any are the laws concerning the age that a child must be before they can stay home alone while a parent is at work?

My grandparents live just next door, trust me it is not a blessing. They have cared for my son since he was six weeks old. Although it was nice to have a sitter right there and I did not have to pay daycare expenses for him, it has hurt him more than it helped me. His great-grandmother (my grandmother next door)has over the years lead him to believe that if he does anything he will get hurt. He was twelve before I could get him to ride a bike. Many other things have happened over the fourteen years that has held him back, like she gives him the answers on his homework so he can hurry and finish it before I come home. I caught her and my grandfather still giving him a bottle when he was four. She will not allow him to go outside to play unless an adult can be outside to watch him. Now keep in mind that we live out in the county and it’s not like he is going anywhere out of her yard. He is also not allowed to play basketball outside unless someone can watch him. For the most part he is to sit in the house with her and watch TV or he may go play video games. Since my husband’s nephew has been living with us she has been so ugly to him that he does not want to go around her. We have caught her in some many lies about us, my son and even my nephew. She was upset with my nephew because they stopped to eat breakfast one morning and he ordered a gravy-biscuit, she thought he should have ordered sausage because she thinks it’s better. “He does not eat like us”, she said. She has also told my son that he could pack his clothes and come move in with her. Her and my grandfather even said to my son and to my husband and myself that if I left those boys at home they would take me to court. I must say that those boys have handled themselves just fine. We call a number of times thoughout the day and if they go outside they call us to let us know first, we even leave a list of chores for them to do. They are both getting an allowance now for completing their chores. They have a cell phone so they can call me as much as they need or want to. Let’s just face it, it’s a week and half before school starts and I’m being stressed out every morning from my grandparents about this. They will not go to town anymore if they can’t take the boys with them. Last week they went in to the house and told the boys to get ready and took them without letting my husband or myself know. I got a phone call after they had returned because we had been calling and could not get anyone on the phone…so we left a message at my grandparents house. What am I do to about this situation? I see a fourteen year old boy who wants to grow up and be like his friends. He does not wish to hurt anyones feelings and he gives in to her just so she will stop mistreating me. It hurts to think that this is called family.