Kids Alone at Home

Safety for Kids Alone at Home 
The Shaler Township Police Department wants kids to be safe when they are home by themselves without parental or adult supervision. In PA, there is no set minimum age to leave a child home unsupervised. Various organizations, such as the countrywide "SAFEKIDS" campaign, provide recommended ages that usually fall between ten and twelve years of age. It is ultimately up to the parents to decide whether they think their child is mature enough to stay home alone. 

Kids should know some of the basic rules when they are home, and have a "plan" when things happen that are out of the ordinary. It is important for kids to know their full name, home phone number, and how to use the telephone, especially 9-1-1. Other contact information such as office numbers and cell phone numbers should be posted where kids will see it. Kids should have a trusted adult to call if they are scared or have an emergency. A contact person should be someone who can reach you quickly in the event of real trouble.

Kids coming home from school should check out the house before entering, and go to a safe place to call for help if something doesn't seem right. Kids should lock the door behind them when they get inside, and immediately call a parent to let them know that they are home safe. 

Kids should never tell callers that they are home alone. It is best not to answer the phone and let the answering machine pick up the call, or have a code with the number of rings, and a call back between kids and parents. If kids do answer the phone, NEVER tell someone that the parents are not home. They should advise the caller that their parents cannot come to the phone at the moment, and offer to take a call back number.

Most importantly, kids should NEVER open the door, or talk to anyone who comes to the home unless that person is a trusted family friend or relative and the parents have said that it is okay for the friend or relative to be at the home. 

PA leaves these decisions up to the parents, however, the consequences of leaving a young child home alone for an extended period of time can be severe. Depending on the case, the parents can be charged with neglect.  Parents know their children best, but a little bit of common sense should be used.