Legal age to leave a child home alone...?

My girlfriend just mentioned to me that she left her 8 year old daughter home alone for a little more than an hour while she went grocery shopping.

Granted, her daughter is mature for her age- can spout all of the "stranger danger" awareness she needs to know...but is it ok?? My girlfriend was really surprised that I thought it was a bad idea.

(I have tried to look this up- albeit briefly- we live in Virginia and i can't see if we have legislation)

thanks!

Answers:
i did my own little look for info for you i found this information in regards to leaving a child at home. (Note this is fairfax county, i don't knowwhat county you live in but anyway) according to the Children Home Alone (2001), by the Fairfax County Department of Family Services, lists the following Child Supervision Guidelines:
Whenever any child is unsupervised/unattended the following should apply...

There must be no emotional, medical, or behavioral problems which affect judgment or decision-making skills.
Child must be comfortable being alone.
Youth must have a safety plan worked out with the parent/caretaker, which includes:
How to access parent or other responsible adult at all times (including knowing the parent/caretaker's whereabouts and having a telephone number where parent can be reached).
What to do in case of emergency.
Guidelines for acceptable behavior.
Knowledge of emergency telephone numbers.
Youth must demonstrate the ability to follow the safety plan and to make decisions that reflect concern for personal safety.
Age Guidelines

7 & under Should not be left alone for any period of time. This may include leaving children unattended in cars, playgrounds, and backyards. The determining consideration would be the dangers in the environment and the ability of the caretaker to intervene.
8 to 10 yrs. Should not be left alone for more than 1½ hours and only during daylight and early evening hours.
11 to 12 yrs. May be left alone for up to 3 hours but not late at night or in circumstances requiring inappropriate responsibility.
13 to 15 yrs. May be left unsupervised, but not overnight.
16 to 17 yrs. May be left unsupervised (in some cases, for up to two consecutive overnight periods).
I would imagine it's against the law if there was some negligence on the mother's part. Other than that, it's an ethical decision made by her.
I do not believe there are any laws regarding what age is acceptable. There are child endangerment laws that might be applied in some manner.
Bad idea. My big brother was 10 when my mom left us at home and him in charge. He didn't stop my little brother (age 6) from putting his arm through a glass window.

Bring the kid shopping. If she really is mature, she won't wreck the store or beg for Hostess Twinkies.
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Call Virginia Child Protective Services or the Police Department (non-emergency number) and ask. Or as me and hubby did the stupid ex-wife left the 11 and 9 year old home alone in section 8 housing in the most dangerous part of her town on new years all night. the kids were terrified and called us, they were scared cuz of the gunshots. We called the cops to go get them and they said that a child over the age of 10 can be left home alone, at the parents discretion. That was some bulls**t, so try calling CPS or PD and see what they say. The age of 10 rule is for Oklahoma by the way.
The base age for baby sitting is usually 12 - and that's with special training (basic first aid etc.) So leaving someone under that age home alone is risky. Not because the child doesn't have the street smarts, but accidents can happen to anyone - especially in the home. Check with your local social workers or police department, and they can tell you the legal age for leaving minors alone. In some areas, minors under 10 can be picked up and placed in foster homes if they are left alone.
I once called our local child protective services to find out the answer (NY).. I was told that it would depend on the maturity level of the child, and other factors. (length of time, rules, # to call for help, food prep, etc. )
Some children can certainly handle an hour or so at age 8, and some kids are latch key kids by the time they reach that age. Only a parent can know what a child is old enough to handle,
There are generally different laws for different states. For example, in Illinois, the age is 11, but I was about 9 or 10 when I started being left home alone.
Stranger danger awareness sometimes isn't enough. Who's going to stop some man from chasing after that girl if she runs away from him because he's a stranger?
Take her grocery shopping. And I would wait until age 10 to leave a child alone, if at all possible. If not, get a babysitter.
Technically the parent is responsible for a child under 18 yrs old...and if anything happened the parent would have been held responsible...true some 8yo are mature enough and know how to handle being home alone...the problem is she could be looked upon as a target if anyone ever found out she is left alone at times.
Yes there are laws and not sure if it is the same in all states but my state it is actually 18, even though most all parents leave home 12 to 17 yr olds all the time, the law does say under the age of 18 is unlawful to be left home alone without parental supervision. Call your local Department of Health and Welfare and ask. You can remain annonymous just to ask a question.
12 is the legal age. But I have a 12 year old I would not leave alone, but my 15 year old was left alone at 12 because he was much more mature and responsible. Regardless of the legal age I think you need to base that decision on the child and the surrounding environment. Be very careful! Good Luck!
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