What Age Can You Leave Your Child Home Alone In Minnesota? Can Teens Be Left Overnight?
Do you remember your first time being left home alone? For me, it was the early 1990s. I was around 10 years old, a pretty smart kid, and fairly responsible. My parents decided they needed to run a quick errand and thought it would be ok to leave me home alone for a couple of hours.
We had family that lived right next door, so if I had any problems I could run over to them. So, not a big worry there. We also had a landline phone, and I even think we might have had a cellular bag carphone. Remember those?
So it wasn't a high-risk situation leaving me home alone, but it was definitely a little strange. I guess I never even wondered if it was legal or not.
Fast forward several years and I do remember having a couple of nights when I was home alone. Mom may have been out of town and my step-dad was working overnights. Once again, I didn't even wonder if it was illegal or not.
Back then all we had to do was watch reruns on cable TV during the day. Nowadays kids have screens, video games, and endless technology to keep them busy.
It turns out in Minnesota, that there is no actual legal age specified for leaving your child home alone. But, there are some guidelines that are suggested by the Department of Health And Human Safety. Legamatch provides the following information:
- Children 7 and younger should not be left alone for any period of time. This includes being left in the car, playground, or backyard.
- Ages 8 to 10 can be left home alone only during daylight and early more hours for no longer than 1 and a half hours.
- Ages 11 to 12 can be left alone during the day for up to 3 hours, as long as it's not late at night.
- Ages 13 to 15 can be left unsupervised as long as it isn't overnight.
- Ages 16 to 17 can be left unsupervised for up to 2 days.
The big question is if your child is capable of being left alone, even if they meet the requirements. That comes down to the parent and the child. However, if an issue arises, authorities may review the circumstances such as the age of the child, the situation, adult backup resources, and other factors.
In Minnesota, the lack of age-appropriate supervision can be considered a form of neglect and comes with serious consequences, according to the U of M:
A parent, legal guardian, or caretaker who willfully deprives a child of necessary food, clothing, shelter, health care, or supervision appropriate to the child’s age, when the parent, guardian, or caretaker is reasonably able to make the necessary provisions and the deprivation harms or is likely to substantially harm the child’s physical, mental, or emotional health is guilty of neglect of a child and may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than one year or to payment of a fine of not more than $3,000, or both. (Source: Minn. Stat. 609.378, Subd. 1 (a)(1))