LEAVE YOUR 13-YEAR-OLD HOME ALONE? POLICE CAN TAKE HER INTO CUSTODY UNDER ILLINOIS LAW

Illinois Policy Institute –

Any parents who leave their children age 13 or younger home alone may be guilty of neglect under Illinois state law.

That’s because Illinois law states that “any minor under the age of 14 years whose parent or other person responsible for the minor’s welfare leaves the minor without supervision for an unreasonable period of time without regard for the mental or physical health, safety, or welfare of that minor” is neglected.

It’s the strictest law of its kind in the nation. Only a handful of other states have a minimum age for leaving children home alone. For example, three states list 12 as the minimum age for leaving children home alone, while three states set the minimum age at 8. Kansas lists the minimum age at 6. At least 30 states have no minimum age for when a child can be left home alone.

While the law in Illinois defines neglect only where the child under 14 years old is left without supervision for an unreasonable period of time without regard for his or her mental or physical, health, safety or welfare, it does not define “unreasonable period of time” or “regard for the mental or physical health, safety or welfare.” Rather, it provides a non-exhaustive list of 15 factors for a court to determine. But that provides practically no guidance to a parent trying to decide when they can or can’t leave their 13-year-old without supervision.

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