Legal Age for Children to Be Left Alone in Pennsylvania

By Bryan Driscoll, J.D.

Legal Age for Children to Be Left Alone in Pennsylvania

By Bryan Driscoll, J.D.

Pennsylvania does not declare a specific age for when parents can leave children home alone. The state makes clear that parents should know when it's acceptable to leave their child alone. Parents should make sure to fully evaluate their child before deciding to leave them home alone by taking into consideration their age, maturity, respect for rules, and the safety of the neighborhood where the child lives.

Mother and son looking at each other

If a child is left home alone before the appropriate age, they could face legal trouble. Babysitters must also be of a certain level of maturity before they can be alone with a child under their care.

Age Recommendations

Different child advocacy organizations suggest certain ages at which children are mature enough to leave home alone. These ages range from ten years old into the teens.

Ultimately, the parents must know their child's maturity level. This will help each set of parents to determine what age is suitable for them to leave their child home alone. What age is right for one child may not be right for another.

Just like the maturity level of a child should be determined before leaving them home alone, the same is true of a babysitter. When evaluating a babysitter, parents should consider the babysitter's age but also their level of maturity, how many other children they babysit, and the safety of the neighborhood. Babysitters should generally be older than the child they are babysitting. Babysitters should also know how to reach a nearby adult in case of emergency.

There are considerations parents should make before leaving a child home alone.

Parents know their children best. But there are certain considerations every parent should make before deciding to leave their child home alone:

  • Maturity level
  • Age
  • Understanding of safety
  • Respect for rules

Parents should take care to give a full evaluation of their child before deciding to leave them home alone. Children who are left home alone must also know how to contact a nearby adult in case of emergency. Contacting parents is good but the parents may be too far away to help in case of a true emergency

Parents can face legal trouble for neglect if their child was left home alone and shouldn't have been.

Neglect of a child for leaving them home alone is entirely subjective. Because Pennsylvania doesn't declare a certain age, it comes down to many factors as to whether the parents committed neglect.

When parents know their child is not mature enough to remain at home alone but they allow their child to do so, this action puts not only their child but potentially other people at risk. This is when parents act negligently. If parents know their child does not respect rules or understand the negative consequences of their behavior, neglect occurs.

Depending on the level of neglect, Pennsylvania can declare a case of parental neglect as either a misdemeanor or a felony. The consequences can be severe, including fines, jail time, and even loss of your child. If you find yourself in this situation, it's important that you are diligent about fighting the misdemeanor or felony.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.

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