ESSENCE Poll: What Age is Appropriate to Leave Your Child Home Alone?

Photo by Cultura RM/Sue Barr
When do you stop calling the babysitter for your little (or big) one?

In our age of cellphones, laptops and iPads, our interconnectedness sometimes gives us a false sense of security. Being plugged in 24/7 makes us feel as though we can do things like leave our young children at home for days—just as long as they have a cellphone.

That's what happened to one Virginia mother, who left her 8-year-old at home by himself over Memorial Day weekend while she traveled to South Carolina.

A neighbor called police after the young boy, who was playing outside, told her son that he was staying home alone while his mother was away for the entire weekend. The boy, now in state custody, told the neighbor that his mom had left him food and a cellphone and would spank him if he told people that he was staying home alone.

"I said, 'You're home by yourself?'" the neighbor told a local television station. "He said, 'Yes, my mom said I was old enough because I took Taekwondo." 

This extreme case has us wondering: At what age is it acceptable to leave a child at home by himself while you run to the shopping mall or for lunch with girlfriends? Take our poll and leave us a comment explaining your thoughts.

What age is appropriate to leave your child at home alone?
9 or younger
17 and older
Total votes: 317

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