resource by Kirk Bloir,
Program Director, Family and Consumer Sciences
posted at: http://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/HYG-5321
Whether for a few minutes or a few hours, all parents will face this dilemma:
Is my child old enough to stay home alone?
If you look to Ohio's state or local laws, you won't find a minimum age specified.
Instead, the Ohio Revised Code says that parents are responsible for
providing adequate and proper supervision and care for their children.
So, the real question isn't so much one of age, but one of your child's maturity,
readiness, and your ability to plan for safety, emergencies, and activities.
Parents need to look at their child's maturity and readiness in three broad areas.
Can your child lock and unlock the doors and windows; use the telephone;
and operate appliances safely (such as a can opener, microwave, toaster oven, stove top)?
Your child must be able to read and take a written message; follow and
give directions; and understand and describe house rules and safety/emergency procedures.
Your child needs to feel good about being left home alone; feel confident In his/her
ability to take care of him/herself; and be comfortable with limited social interaction.
Take cues from your child. If he/she says he/she is afraid, lonely, or unsure of his/her
ability to stay home alone, he/she is not ready.
Once you believe your child is ready, create a plan.
Begin by talking with your child about the possibility of staying home alone.
Ask if he/she would like to stay home alone. If not, don't force the issue.
If yes, then do the following.
There is no magic age at which children can stay home alone.
What matters most is
(1) whether they are mature enough,
(2) they know how to respond in emergency situations, and
(3) they are willing to follow directions and rules.
If your children are not comfortably self-sufficient in your absence,
they are not ready to stay home alone.
Cindee Case, MPS
Director of the Diocese of Youngstown Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry.