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When should children be allowed to stay home alone? - abc27 WHTM

When should children be allowed to stay home alone?

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) - When should children be allowed to stay home alone?

There is no consensus as to what's the appropriate and legal age to do so.

"I think it should be based on the maturity level of the child, so each child should be based on an individual basis," said Christine Waters, who along with her husband Dr. Eric Waters, owns Ava's Garden Daycare in Uptown Harrisburg.

They both agree it varies from child to child and their maturity level.

"I personally believe middle school years," said Eric Waters when pressed to ballpark an appropriate age. "I think no earlier than 12."

And Waters hastens to point out that age would only be appropriate if the child was not in charge of someone younger.

"I do think later in the teenage years is when it's most appropriate," said Christine Waters. "I think under the age of 10 is wholly inappropriate."

How about the legal standard for being home alone? Is there a minimum legal age?  No, says Dauphin County First Assistant District Attorney Fran Chardo, who agreed with the Waters that some kids are more mature than others.

He says criminal law does not get involved unless it's truly extraordinary circumstances.

Dr. Waters says there are factors outside of the child that should be considered.

"If there is perhaps a high crime area, you may want to think twice about the age in which you leave your child," he said.

Waters asked his daughter how old she thought she should be.

"At the age probably 12 or 13," Ava Waters, 8,  said. "I think I should feel trusted and my parents should trust me."
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