VERIFY: Can parents be charged for leaving kids home alone?

Verify: Charging parents with neglect?

MACON, GA.-- - We posted a story to our Facebook page that got many parents talking about what age is appropriate to leave your kids at home alone and can a parent be charged.

Kasandra Ortiz set out to verify whether parents can get charged for leaving their children alone. To verify the question, she spoke to Captain James Clark with the Jones County Sheriff's Office. She also spoke to Susan Boatwright with the Division of Family and Children Services.

Denise Maples says her kids normally make their own beds. She considers them to be independent and mature enough to stay at home alone.  

"As for me, I was at home on my own from the age of 5 on up,” explains Maples.

Her kids, Zamarion and Zora, are 5 years old and 6 years old, but she says not every child should be left alone.

"Every kid matures at a different level or at a different age, so there's no right or wrong on what age to leave your child at home,” says Maples.

The Georgia Division of Family and Children Services provides guidelines on what is best. Captain James Clark at the Jones County Sheriff's Office says it may not be law but is helpful for parents.

"If they're 8 and below, they should never stay home alone. 9 to 12, they are allowed to stay there for 2 hours. 13 and up, they are allowed to stay there for 12 hours,” explains Clark.

Susan Boatwright with DFCS says it is always best to make sure your child has a plan in case something goes wrong. She says DFCS may charge a parent with leaving kids alone, but that generally depends on the circumstances.

"We look at those situations on a case-by-case basis because at the heart of what we do, we are looking to see what's the capacity of the caregiver or the parent to keep their child safe,” says Boatwright.

So WMAZ was able to verify that it is true a parent can be charged with leaving their child of any age at home alone if they are in what is considered to be a dangerous or unsafe situation.

VERIFY Sources:

Captain James Clark – Jones County Sheriff’s Department

Susan Boatwright – Division of Family and Child Services

© 2017 WMAZ-TV


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