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A Chart Showing When It's Okay To Leave Kids Home Alone

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I grew up around a bunch of latchkey kids who walked themselves home from school every day and often had to make their own dinner because their parent(s) were always working.

This seemed quite normal, and made it easy to find kids to play with after school, but nowadays most parents wouldn't dream of letting their kids live that latchkey life.

Which brings up the question- when is a kid old enough to be left home alone?

This chart created by Thirty Handmade Days attempts to answer that question, breaking it down by age group and showing which states have laws against leaving kids home alone.

It seems a bit ridiculous to worry about leaving a 16-17 year old home alone, but what do you think- do you agree with this chart?

-Via CountryLiving

See more about baby and kids at NeatoBambino

Newest 5
Newest 5 Comments

If kidnapping is what you worry about, then Mom is in more danger than the children. But there's not much you can do to protect an adult that an adult can't do herself. The biggest danger for unsupervised children is traffic accidents.
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I have some mixed feelings about these guidelines.
I started my first job at 15. I got my driver's license at 15. I also had free reign to travel anywhere in town when I was 7. I frequently explored abandoned military outposts when I was a kid, and even found buried relics from those same outposts that eventually wound up in a museum. That being said, I also had to carry my brother after he sliced open his foot on one of those excursions, so...it ain't all good.
Learned to swim at age 5, so rivers and stuff weren't a problem. I guess there isn't a good chart for this type of thing. The best option is to teach kids early on how to deal with life. Training them to swim, avoid poison, and avoid traffic are probably the best options. Life is dangerous. There's no way to protect your kids forever. Nobody makes it out alive.
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According to this chart, girls face very high rates of kidnapping until they hit age 40+...

http://www.project.org/info.php?recordID=158

So that's the earliest age at which you can safely start letting them walk home, alone. In fact the numbers peak at around age 22, so that's a terrible time to cut back on your around-the-clock parental supervision of them... You're better off leaving your 5-year old daughter on her own, than when she's teen-aged.
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I'd say it varies greatly depending on the area. In a small town it is probably pretty safe for younger kids to wander around on their own. In a big, crime-ridden city with lots of random eyes around, I'd be careful.

As for teenagers in general, they may be less vulnerable to strangers, but having a house to themselves for hours, with friends around, could be pretty risky in entirely different ways...
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I was supposed to be a latchkey kid growing up, but 1. the term wasn't used widely in the '60s, 2. we never locked our doors, so I didn't have a key, and 3. I rarely went home before suppertime.
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