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Ask A Cop: When can children be left home alone?

(A Lake Oswego police officer answers readers’ questions each week in this space. To submit a question, call staff reporter Cliff Newell at 503 636-1281 ext 105 or send an email to cnewell@lakeoswegoreview.com)

What is the legal age at which I can leave my children alone at home? 

PECORAROOregon Child Neglect Laws (ORS 163.545 et seq.) indicate a child should be at least 10 years old to be home alone. Of course, this depends upon the maturity and abilities of your child.

When you have decided your child is old enough to leave at home, gradually increase the time he or she is at home alone so that both of you are comfortable with the situation. Discuss with your child what to do in the case of emergency, when someone comes to the door, if (and how many) friends are allowed over, what your expectations are and contact numbers for you and your neighbors.

Another good idea is to provide structured activities or chores for them to do so that they are occupied while you’re gone. 

— Officer Dawn Pecoraro

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