Lexington Police, Safe Kids Coalition talk about the right age to leave children home alone

Published: Aug. 14, 2020 at 4:08 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - In Kentucky there is no law that says how old a child has to be before they can be home alone.

Still, the registered nurse who oversees the safe kids coalition in Fayette County tells WKYT there are some good guidelines.

“Everything that I’ve read has been probably not under 11 should not be home alone,” said Sherri Hannan with Safe Kids Coalition. “Just because kids don’t have to developmental skills, they don’t have the problem-solving skills to make good choices if something were to happen.”

But really, it comes down to each individual child, and each family.

Are they mature enough to handle being alone, and are they able to get help or notify the correct person if there's an emergency.

Hannan says it’s best to start small, by leaving the house for short trips, and making sure those go smoothly, before you leave a child home for several hours or while you’re at work.

“But a parent needs to decide the maturity level,” Hannan said. “The emotional developmental level of the child. How they react to stress and challenges. Do they follow the rules? So if you say no friends over while I’m at work can you trust that they will do that.”

Hannan says it’s also important to make sure they have access to a phone, so they can call if they have questions, or if there’s an emergency.

It’s a good idea to go over those scenarios before you leave the house.

WKYT also talked to Lexington police about this. They told us a big thing is making sure your kids don’t tell people they’re going to be home alone, so no social media posts or letting friends know.

You may also want to go over what to do if there’s a knock at the door. The sergeant we talked to told his his kids don’t answer the door unless a parent is home.

Copyright 2020 WKYT. All rights reserved.

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