Home Alone: Deciding when it's the right time for kids

(WHAM photo)

Rochester, NY - The death of a 10-year-old boy in Churchville, who was left unsupervised with his younger brother, has sparked a conversation about the proper age for a child to be left unsupervised for a short period of time.

Three states currently legislate what age a child can be left unsupervised. New York is not one of them.

Some parents would think it should stay that way.

Tim Stewart and his wife are in the process of deciding if now if the right time for their 10-year-old son to be able to stay home alone. Their son is heading into the fourth grade and there might be some alone-time after school ends, and before mom and dad come home from work.

"It depends on his ability and if we are comfortable with him being home alone for a short period of time until we get home," said Stewart.

With no regulations or official guidance from the state, experts at the Bivona Child Advocacy Center stress simply talking to children.

"Take the time to really know your child. Make sure your child has the opportunity to talk to you and share with you when someone scares them," said Executive Director Deb Rosen.

While that decision isn't easy, some parents say the independence and trust that comes from being left alone for a short period of time, is a good thing.

"What we do as parents is imagine the worst and we wonder what we would do if this, that or the other thing happened," said Debra Ross. "Our overall goal is to raise independent kids who think for themselves, take appropriate risks and have appropriate accomplishments."

Some areas offer "Home Alone" classes for kids to take similar to babysitting classes. The Red Cross also offers tips to make sure kids are ready to be left alone.

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