Illinois has highest ‘Home Alone’ age in nation

Illinois has highest ‘Home Alone’ age in nation

Leaving a child under 14 home alone in Illinois is illegal. That’s the highest age of any state, with only three other states making that parental decision a matter of state law.

The Christmas movie classic “Home Alone” is set in the Chicago suburbs, which in Illinois means Kevin McCallister’s mom could have come home to handcuffs.

State law considers it neglect or abuse when “any minor under the age of 14 years whose parent or other person responsible for the minor’s welfare leaves the minor without supervision for an unreasonable period of time without regard for the mental or physical health, safety, or welfare of that minor.”

Most states don’t see a need to legally define when it is OK to leave a child unattended, but Illinois is one of four with statewide laws on the books. Other states settle for guidelines.

Maryland has a law, but for 8-year-olds. A 13-year-old is often asked to babysit and is two years out from a learner’s permit to drive, but legally Illinois does not consider one old enough to be home alone for a few hours.

And in Illinois, the state can take a child from a parent without a warrant, only probable cause.

Child separations disproportionally hit low-income families deemed “unfit.”

A study by Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union concluded “removing a child from their parents, even for a short time, can be highly traumatizing and have long-term consequences.”

In Alto Pass, Alan Schott had his young children taken by DCFS three times. All three times the anonymous claims were unsubstantiated.

Separating a family struggling with poverty won’t make their living conditions better. It will only make them worse.

Usurping parental authority to decide when a child is mature enough to stay home alone is government overreach. Doing so when few other states do so is unnecessary.

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