From what I can find, only two states have specific ages in their lawbooks about kids being left home alone: Illinois is 14 ( :eek: - although it’s mitigated by a mushy “unreasonable time” clause) and Maryland 8.
I was 6 (first grade) when my mother divorced my father and had to go to work. She was a substitute teacher at the time, so she didn’t work every day, and she was usually home only an hour or so after me. I had to check in with the neighbor when I got home and then lock myself in the house - no going out, no having friends over, no answering the door or the phone (except if the phone rang in our secret ring pattern - one ring, hang up, two rings, hang up, and then answer on the next call).
These days, 6 or even 7 or 8 is likely to present problems in my state (IL) if you have [del] nosy [/del] concerned neighbors. I think my son was around 8 before I’d leave him alone for a 20 minute run to the grocery store next door, and around 9 before he could stay home alone for a couple of hours at a stretch. By 10 I’d leave him for an evening and expect him to get himself into bed at a reasonable time, and by 12 I stopped feeling guilty for it.
So not only does it depend on your local laws and prevailing attitudes, as well as the individual kid, it also depends on what kind of circumstances, length of time and time of day you’re talking about.