Pelham police assisted Children's Protective Service with an investigation of a child reportedly left unsupervised last week.
Last Wednesday, police and a social worker visited a Fifth Ave. apartment and discovered a 16 year old had been living for an extended period without parental supervision.
The teen reportedly told police he had been home alone for a month while his father traveled to China on business. When police spoke to the boy's father, he said he didn't know there was a problem with leaving the child alone.
The house was reportedly clean and well stocked with food.
Police left the boy in the custody of an adult family friend residing in the same building.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offers resources on its Child Welfare Information Gateway. According to their website, only Maryland and Illinois have laws specifying the minimum age a child can be left home alone.
The New York State Office of Children and Family Services offer these guidelines for deciding whether you child can handle being home alone:
- Consider the child: How mature is the child? How comfortable is the child with the circumstances? What has the child done in the past to show you he/she is able to take on this kind of responsibility?
- Consider the child’s knowledge and ability: Does the child know how and when to contact emergency help? Is the child able to prepare food for him/herself? Are there hazards to the child in the environment such as accessible knives, power tools, a stove or oven?
- Consider the circumstances: Where will the child be when left alone? How long is the child to be alone?
What do you think is an appropriate age to leave a child at home unsupervised? How long a period is appropriate?