A mom in New Canaan, Conn., was arrested for leaving her 13-year-old daughter in charge of her siblings after one of the children wandered across the street alone.
“According to published reports, police say this mother left her four children—ranging in age from 13 years to 8 months—alone at home to go to church. Police were called to the home by a neighbor who said the woman’s 4-year-old had wandered into the yard across the street alone. Police arrested the mother and charged her with risk of injury to a minor.”
“When Patch published the police blotter arrest report, comments flew fast and furious—170 at last count in the days that followed since the arrest. Here’s the understatement of the year: people have some pretty strong feelings about whether the mother was right to leave her eldest child to watch over the younger three children, and whether she as the parent should be held accountable when the 4-year-old wandered off.”
“But just as there are critics of the mom, Patch readers had some forceful opinions about the neighbor who summoned police, with some accusing her of acting in anything but a neighborly way. Instead of calling police, many said, she should have simply walked the child back across the street and offered a sympathetic hand to a fellow resident.”
So what is the legal age to leave a teenager in charge on Connecticut?
“Speaking of which, what does the law say about this case? Not a whole lot. There are guidelines provided by CT’s Department of Children and Family that say it’s up to each parent, depending on their child’s readiness, but that “Experts believe a child should be at least 12 before he is left alone, and at least 15 before he can care for a younger brother or sister. These are the minimum ages. Not every child is ready then.”
“(It’s important to note that, according to safekids.org, “even if a state does not have a specific law prohibiting adults from leaving children unattended, state and local prosecutors have the discretion to criminally charge adults under existing child endangerment laws.”)”
So the incident has sparked much debate in Connecticut as I am sure it will here.
Was the mom wrong to leave her 13-year-old in charge babysitting?
Was it too many kids for her to be in charge of?
Were they too young?
Should the neighbor just walked the child back across the street and hung out if she could to make sure everything was OK?
Was the neighbor being mean calling the cops or did she prevent a later calamity?