The Legal Age You Can Leave Your Kids Home Alone in These Two New England States Will Leave You Shocked
Editor's note: This article was written by a Townsquare Media Northern New England contributor and may contain the individual's views, opinions or personal experiences.
With kids, it's always the question of when are they ready to be home by themselves. Every state has a law on what age a child can legally be home alone. However, the age restriction in which a child can legally be left alone at home in Maine and Massachusetts is a bit shocking.
Growing up in Massachusetts, I honestly cannot remember the first time that I had been left home alone. I used to live in an apartment above what was my grandfather's beauty salon, and I guess I can say that I was left home alone when I was in 3rd grade since I was alone in the apartment, and my grandfather worked downstairs. Granted I would sometimes help out in the salon and learn about getting cash tips at a young age.
My grandfather would constantly call the house phone (I know, what's a landline anymore) and would tell me to behave since he could see what I was doing through a mirror (which I honestly believed at such a young age). So I was never really alone, I just feared that he would see me dancing around the apartment to "Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee" from 'Grease.'
According to Mass.gov, there is no set age for a child to be left at home alone in the state of Massachusetts. However, the state looks at any reports of a child home alone on a case-by-case basis.
It can be argued that although the state of Massachusetts doesn't have a set age, the age at which you should leave your child home alone is the age of 10.
The 192th General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts states:
"Whoever abandons an infant under the age of ten within or without any building, or, being its parent, or being under a legal duty to care for it, and having made a contract for its board or maintenance, absconds or fails to perform such contract, and for four weeks after such absconding or breach of his contract, if of sufficient physical and mental ability, neglects to visit or remove such infant or notify the department of his inability to support such infant, shall be punished by imprisonment in a jail or house of correction for not more than two years; or, if the infant dies by reason of such abandonment, by imprisonment in a jail or house of correction for not more than two and one half years or in the state prison for not more than five years."
The state of Maine also does not have a set legal age at which a child is allowed to be left home alone, however children do have rights.
According to Maine.gov, at home, children have the right to safety and supervision, food and clothing, shelter, and protection against any type of abuse or neglect.
In the state of Maine, anyone can report suspected abuse or neglect of a child, which includes leaving a young child home alone.
Granted, there is no set age at which you can legally leave your child home alone, it is best to use your best judgment.
Personally, I feel that as long as the child knows right from wrong (example: don't start a fire) and is able to have access to food, water, safety, and have someone close by to call if needed, then it is okay to leave them home alone (at least for a short amount of time).
When in doubt, call a family member, hire a sitter, or just stay home.