We have all seen the classic movie "Home Alone," in which eight-year-old Kevin McCallister is accidentally left home alone while his family goes on Christmas vacation. The McCallister parents should have probably been charged with negligent supervision. Of course, that was just a movie.
What is the Legal Age to Babysit in PA
Pennsylvania has no set age limit that allows a child to be legally left home alone. However, if a parent decides to leave a child home alone, that child is still the parent's responsibility. So, if anything happens to the child, the parents can be charged with neglect.
Although there is no set minimum age to leave a child home unsupervised, various organizations provide recommended ages that usually fall between ten and twelve years of age. It is ultimately up to the parents to decide whether they think their child is mature enough to stay home alone. Each child is different. In one case, a ten-year-old may be able to stay home alone for a few hours and be just fine. In another case, a thirteen-year-old may require constant supervision. Because there is no minimum age, the law expects each parent to know their child's maturity level and can decide whether the child can be left alone. Similarly, a parent should factor in the time they will be away before deciding to go with a child alone. A fifteen-minute trip to the grocery store differs from a five-hour dinner party.
Pennsylvania does not have a minimum age for babysitters, either. Most people will consider asking a neighbor's child or a family friend to babysit for the night. Again, it is up to the parents to decide who an age-appropriate babysitter is. Typically, the parents at least want a babysitter who can contact the parents and call 911 in an emergency. Other considerations when choosing a young babysitter could be the number of children they have to watch, their ages, and whether any children have unique medical needs.
Although PA leaves these decisions up to the parents, the consequences of leaving a young child home alone for an extended period can be severe. Depending on the case, the parents can be charged with neglect. These charges can even constitute felonies or result in the children being removed from the home. Parents know their children best, but some common sense should be used. After all, if the "wet bandits" come around, you don't want to rely on your child's ability to hit them in the head with paint cans. Teaching your child how to call 911 and a neighbor in the event of an emergency is probably the safer bet.