By Lois R. Finkelstein

How old does a child have to be before he or she can be left alone in Maryland? The answer is 8 years old. Section 5-801 of the Family Law Article of the Maryland Code states:

(a) In general. — A person who is charged with the care of a child under the age of 8 years may not allow the child to be locked or confined in a dwelling, building, enclosure, or motor vehicle while the person charged is absent and the dwelling, building, enclosure, or motor vehicle is out of the sight of the person charged unless the person charged provides a reliable person at least 13 years old to remain with the child to protect the child.

(b) Penalties for violation. — A person who violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction is subject to a fine not exceeding $ 500 or imprisonment not exceeding 30 days, or both.

I would still recommend that the child be mature enough to understand not to answer the door to strangers, have a safety plan, and have quick access to an adult that can be trusted such as a neighbor.

1 reply
  1. Trishasmith
    Trishasmith says:

    Every parent eventually faces the decision to leave their child home alone for the first time. Whether they are just running to the store for a few minutes or working during after-school hours, parents need to be sure their children have the skills and maturity to handle the situation safely. I have a 13 year old daughter and she usually stays at home after school hours while I was still at work and goes home late at night. 2 months ago, I was scanning through a few blogs and found this article on how I can better protect my daughter. It seemed interesting so I checked it out on Facebook and actually got 15 days free. Here’s the article: http://anationofmoms.com/2011/08/protect-your-family-giveaway.html

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