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When do you think kids can stay alone after school?

My son, 12, just started jr. high and wants to stay alone after school until I get home (3 hours). Right now I make him go to the library and stay until I pick him up, although I found out on Friday the library closes @ 5. What do you think?


Asked by Maureenmich at 11:46 AM on Sep. 11, 2010 in Tweens (9-12)

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Answers (7)
  • I'm letting my 11 year old, just going to middle school, take the bus home 2 days a week and be home alone for 2.5 hours. I can see what he surfs on the computer and I know (mostly) what he's up to. He's a very serious and responsible kid, though. But I won't let him use the stove and we have strict rules about not opening doors to anyone.

    Answer by mellonhead at 3:40 PM on Sep. 13, 2010

  • Check with your state on local laws. Here in PA they have to be 13 to legally stay home even after school for a few hours... Personally, I think it depends on the child. If he's mature enough to do it, then I wouldn't see 12 as to young, but like I said, check with your local laws so you don't end up in trouble...

    Answer by SabrinaMBowen at 11:57 AM on Sep. 11, 2010

  • If you and him feel that he is responsible enough to stay home by himself after school, then everything should be fine. Can he call you as soon as he gets home? Make sure all rules are clear and that he fully understands them. Leave a list of phone number to call in case of an emergency. Go over emergency situations with him to make sure you are both comfortable with his reactions. I think he'll be fine.

    Answer by QandA at 12:03 PM on Sep. 11, 2010

  • My children are too young for this to be a concern yet so I haven't looked into the laws. BUT I have been told at 11 they can stay at home alone and at 12 they can watch siblings. To me this does make sense as a 12 year old is allowed to babysit other peoples children and get paid for it.

    That being said I think it totally depends on your son and your relationship with him. Do you think he is ready? If so then I think you should sit down and talk about a trial period where you try letting him staying home alone and together you come up with the rules that govern what he is allowed to do while alone and what you are uncomfortable having friends over


    Answer by bookworm23 at 10:10 PM on Sep. 11, 2010

  • I don't think he's mature enough to go home every day - which is why I have him to go the library. In my state it's 12 years old to stay alone. Was wondering how others handled it.

    Comment by Maureenmich (original poster) at 10:33 PM on Sep. 11, 2010

  • I don't believe that the library is "child care". To be independently going to the library is akin to being on his own, although he's more available to predators, bullies, and other difficult situations. Librarians aren't babysitters, nor should they be expected to be.

    My 11 year old daughter is capable of staying alone, but I'm not ready to allow her to be. Most 12 year olds are more than capable. You already stated that you don't feel he's mature enough to be home alone. I think you need to find a better solution.

    Answer by justnancyb at 10:18 AM on Sep. 12, 2010

  • My 11 year old is allowed to stay at home while I run errands but I am usually not gone longer than 2 hours. He has strick rules on what he can and cannot do. My husband and I have been gradually increasing his time alone for the last 2 years. This has been working for us, but each child is different and should be evaluated on what that child can handle and not what someone else does.

    Answer by emerald53197 at 12:04 PM on Sep. 13, 2010