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When can your kids be left home alone?

As summer schedules get busier, here are some guidelines for parents

Caucasian teenage girl is lying on her stomach on bed with smartphone and smiling, having fun. Communication in social networks, use of modern gadgets and Internet.
Many factors should be considered before leaving a child unsupervised at home.
iStock / Special to On the Minds of Moms
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As we reach the mid-point of summer, schedules are getting busier and more packed with games, camps, activities, lessons and more.

Because of that, parents may be wondering when children can be left home alone.

North Dakota does not have a law indicating when children can be left alone, nor does Minnesota.

That's why the North Dakota Department of Human Services and partner community agency Prevent Child Abuse North Dakota offer some guidelines for these situations.

Here's what parents need to consider:

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  • How long the child will be alone
  • Maturity, behavior and judgment of the child
  • Confidence and preparedness of the child
  • Safety concerns and whether child knows what to do in the event of an emergency
  • If the child can resist peer pressure to break rules parents lay out
  • Availability of internet access and whether the child will be safe online unsupervised

Children under the age of 8 should be supervised all the time by a parent or adult caregiver, according to a press release. Children older than 8 can be left alone for short periods of time, but never overnight.
Children 12 and over may be responsible enough to act as babysitters, but it is highly encouraged that they complete a child care training course before supervising young children.

For more information about children staying home alone, check out the online resource Home Alone: Is Your Child Ready? provided by the North Dakota Department of Human Services and Prevent Child Abuse North Dakota.

Danielle Teigen has a bachelor's degree in journalism and management communication as well as a master's degree in mass communication from North Dakota State University. She has worked for Forum Communications since May 2015, first as a digital content manager before becoming the Life section editor and then deputy editor. She recently moved back to her hometown in South Dakota, where she works remotely for Forum Communications as managing editor of On the Minds of Moms.
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