Rhode Island Proposes NEW Insanity: “Children Under 10 Shall Not Be Left Home Alone, Even Briefly”

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Is there a war on parents in Rhode Island? Recall that this is the state that once wanted to make it illegal for a child under age 12 to get off the school bus unless an adult was waiting there to walk the child home. (That bill was eventually scrapped.) Then there was the bill considered just a couple of weeks ago that would make it illegal to let a child under age 7 wait in the car, under penalty of the state revoking the parent’s license for THREE YEARS. That one is still in play. Now comes THIS LAW that is to be debated on Tuesday:

1 SECTION 1. Chapter 14-1 of the General Laws entitled “Proceedings in Family Court” is hereby amended by adding thereto the following section:

Age restrictions for children. – Children under ten (10) years of age shall 4 not be left home alone.

Children at least ten (10) years of age and not more than twelve (12) years of age shall 6 be allowed to stay home alone for brief periods of time, but not after 9:00 pm.

Children over twelve (12) years of age may be left home alone, but not overnight.

Parents and legal guardians should use their judgment to access the maturity and responsibility of their children and to discuss safety procedures and precautions before deciding whether to leave their child(ren) home alone.

Once again we have the lawmakers interfering with basic parenting decisions. Why? What if I need to get medicine for my 8 -year-old? I have to drag her, vomiting, to the store with me? What if my 11-year-old is reading and it’s 9:30 at night and I have to go pick up his dad from the train? I have to take him with me or risk losing him to foster care? That’s a better fate for him than a mom who trusts him to stay home alone with a John Green book for half an hour?

Why is the state so obsessed with making these laws that leave parents no room to decide what works best for them and their families? How does it make children safer to take away their parents’ judgment and flexibility? And since when do you have to be 10 to spend any time alone at home? Where does that recommendation even come from? What is it based on, besides a number pulled out of thin air? In the rest of the world, kids age 7 walk to school on their own. In Japan, kindergarteners do it. Why do Rhode Island’s lawmakers think their state’s 10-year-olds are so helpless?

These laws are preposterous. They assume it is the government’s job to dictate family life. They criminalize maturity in children and common sense in parents, and turn mundane decisions — like running out to do an errand — into legal minefields.

So: If you live in Rhode Island and can get to the state legislature on Tuesday, do. A reader who alerted me to this bill, Randall Rose, is organizing parents who’d like to put in a word or two. He says the hearing will be in room 313 of the State House (Senate Judiciary Committee), 80 Smith St., Providence. He adds that “It’s best to be there by 4:30 because sometimes they start then, but if you can’t make it till 5 pm or a little later, there’s a chance they’ll still be going then.” His email is: rrose@pobox.com .

Good luck, Rhode Island! Tell the lawmakers we know they are “thinking of the children,” but this bill will make criminals out of fine parents, and prisoners out of competent kids.  You might also remind the lawmakers that most of them spent some unsupervised time before they were 10, too.(Back when the crime rate was higher than it is today.) Do they wish their parents had been arrested? – L.

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Rhode Island (Nanny) State House.

Rhode Island’s “We care more about your kids than you do” House.

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66 Responses to Rhode Island Proposes NEW Insanity: “Children Under 10 Shall Not Be Left Home Alone, Even Briefly”

  1. Ben January 25, 2016 at 11:04 am #

    Lenore, unless I missed it, can you provide a link to the bill itself? I live in Rhode Island and want to blast off a message to my state rep and state senator about this, but would love to have the actual bill handy. Thanks,

  2. Puzzled January 25, 2016 at 11:13 am #

    Children at least ten (10) years of age and not more than twelve (12) years of age shall 6 be allowed to stay home alone for brief periods of time, but not after 9:00 pm.

    Well, that’s interesting. Can you also face prosecution under this law for not leaving your children between 10 and 12 alone for brief periods of time? After they turn 12, it again becomes optional:

    Children over twelve (12) years of age may be left home alone, but not overnight.

    The final paragraph looks good, but seems to ignore that the fact that previous paragraphs tell parents “your judgment doesn’t count!”

  3. James Pollock January 25, 2016 at 11:24 am #

    It seems kind of unfair to blame the whole state for one legislator floating a bill.

  4. Rick January 25, 2016 at 11:35 am #

    You can find the bill here: https://legiscan.com/RI/bill/S2104/2016

    Wow. Glad we moved out that state just in time.

  5. Ben January 25, 2016 at 11:49 am #

    Thanks for the link, Rick. I’ve just sent off messages to my Senator and Rep regarding these bills. Neither has a phone number listed on their contact info unfortunately.

  6. Linda January 25, 2016 at 12:06 pm #

    ” What if I need to get medicine for my 8 -year-old? I have to drag her, vomiting, to the store with me? What if my 11-year-old is reading and it’s 9:30 at night and I have to go pick up his dad from the train? I have to take him with me or risk losing him to foster care? That’s a better fate for him than a mom who trusts him to stay home alone with a John Green book for half an hour?”

    I love these real world examples, and hope someone brings them to the discussion on the Senate floor.

  7. BL January 25, 2016 at 12:09 pm #

    I see one of the bill’s sponsors (Roger Picard) has an MSW (Masters in Social Work). In other words, a certified professional busybody.

  8. BL January 25, 2016 at 12:11 pm #

    “What if I need to get medicine for my 8 -year-old?”

    Don’t you know? Only bad parents ever ever allow their children to be sick!

  9. B January 25, 2016 at 12:15 pm #

    Walaska does indeed hide his number but Picard doesn’t.

    “Prior to serving in the Rhode Island Senate, Senator Picard served in the House of Representatives from 1992 until his election to the Senate in 2008. He can be reached at (401) 769-4902.”

  10. BL January 25, 2016 at 12:18 pm #

    @B

    I found (401) 737-1065 for Walaska.

  11. B January 25, 2016 at 12:30 pm #

    Just emailed all my folks (and the sponsors) and told them I was (among other things) tired of finding reasons to apologize for Rhode Island. Can’t make it tomorrow but thanks in advance for those that can be there!

  12. John January 25, 2016 at 12:32 pm #

    Other than the good parents of this blog protesting these bills, are there lawmakers who would also question the integrity behind these bills OR do they look on these laws as a slam dunk because they’re meant to “protect the children”?

    You know, if these laws get passed, it could be a domino effect in that lawmakers in other states will look at Rhode Island as a model state for child protection.

    So I would encourage any Rhode Island parent, and even people who are not parents, to protest these proposed laws because I tell ya folks, if left unchecked, the bubble-wrapping of our children here in America will get worse and worse and worse. We’ll not be allowed to give our kids ANY responsibility so by the time they become adults, they’ll be so far behind people in other cultures and will not be able to handle independence.

    In fact, ANY lawmaker who proposes these kind of bills I would vote out of office.

  13. Erika January 25, 2016 at 12:55 pm #

    We’re getting the word out! A number of RI readers have posted about this and are encouraging our friends to contact our representatives.

  14. Tricia Adams January 25, 2016 at 1:13 pm #

    And you can find the email addresses of the senators here:

    http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/Email/SenEmailListDistrict.asp

  15. Brighton, NY January 25, 2016 at 1:13 pm #

    Rhode Island Hates Children.

  16. MichaelF January 25, 2016 at 1:24 pm #

    Well it is an election year, time to start showing you are all about something.

  17. Heather January 25, 2016 at 1:51 pm #

    I think most of these laws are unenforceable. How would they know you left your sick 8-year-old home alone unless you tell someone? Are they checking door-to-door? Let’s say it together: “Fourth Amendment Violation.”
    So besides the motivation for the law, it’s ridiculous.

  18. Andrew Jones January 25, 2016 at 2:23 pm #

    The absolute inanity of the proposed bills aside, is this the intelligence level of elected representatives? I hope somebody checks state laws out in order to prevent the level of stupidity demonstrated in this one.

    1) “Age restrictions for children. – Children under ten (10) years of age shall 4 not be left home alone.” So, if I have one child that’s 9, and one that’s 7, since I’m leaving them at home together, neither one is home alone, right? They didn’t say “under supervision of a competent adult”….And if they *meant* “must be in the same building as a competent adult” I guess BSA won’t be camping in RI anytime soon – 2 cub scouts to a tent, leaders not allowed to sleep with the youth, so the youth will be “alone” *OVERNIGHT* – how will they survive?

    2) “Children at least ten (10) years of age and not more than twelve (12) years of age shall 6 be allowed to stay home alone for brief periods of time, but not after 9:00 pm.” Again…if I have two kids…..they aren’t alone, right? for that matter, what’s the difference between 10 minutes from 8:50pm to 9:00 pm and 9:00pm to 9:10pm? The demons crawl out of the sewers at that time, or something?

    3) “Children over twelve (12) years of age may be left home alone, but not overnight.” Last time I checked RI’s age of majority was 18…so the day before his birthday, a 17year, 364 day old is apparently not capable of staying home alone overnight. I almost *hope* the sponsoring representative have older teenage children and will explain to them that they judge them so incompetent that they had to make a law to prevent them being home alone. A 16-year old couldn’t be left at home alone, but it would be perfectly legal to have him drive across the state at the same time of day. Can you employ a 17 year old in a job where they could be alone on a night shift? Gas station? something similar?

    If this is the quality of government these days, no *wonder* we keep getting stupid rules….

  19. Megan January 25, 2016 at 2:42 pm #

    Thanks for your comment, John. I hadn’t thought of it before, but it’s a great idea to emphasize how we are putting our kids at a disadvantage compared to kids from other countries, whose parents allow them to work toward independence before the age of 18. This idea of our kids needing to give up art, music and recess to study math so they can “compete” in a global economy should be used against the helicopter folks: Our kids are going to be left in the dust in the job market by kids who were treated like intelligent, capable people while growing up. This just may get through to some of the holdouts.

  20. Puzzled January 25, 2016 at 2:53 pm #

    Heather – the big issues I see would be an excuse to punish parents if something does go wrong, providing CPS ammunition, and being abused by one side (or both) in custody battles/divorce.

    The average legislator is going to see significant downside in voting against this – after all, they don’t want to be portrayed in the next election as hating child safety. However, it’s just been introduced – we don’t need to panic as it’s not clear it will even make it out of committee. Some attention now that makes it unpleasant to deal with could get it footed on the calendar so no one has to vote for or against it publicly.

  21. Jessica January 25, 2016 at 3:15 pm #

    If they scrapped everything but that last paragraph, it would be a good bill.

  22. Kristin M January 25, 2016 at 3:16 pm #

    This proposed bill is just one step closer to Marshall law on everyone. First the children, next, the adults. We as Americans NEED to stand up for our individual (and our childrens’) rights to be free and govern our own families how WE (not the government) see fit.

  23. pentamom January 25, 2016 at 3:19 pm #

    Gasp last spring my husband and I left my 17 and and then-13 year olds home overnight while we went to a Parents Weekend at college where two of the other kids go.

    The 17 year old (who didn’t have her license yet) managed to get herself somewhere that she needed to be despite the fact that her originally arranged ride fell through.

    They both survived the 32 or so hours “alone” just fine.

    But I’d be a criminal in Rhode Island.

  24. James Pollock January 25, 2016 at 3:19 pm #

    ” Are they checking door-to-door? Let’s say it together: ‘Fourth Amendment Violation.'”

    You can say it, but it won’t make it into one.

    If the cop knocks on the door, and your sick 8-year-old says “I’m not allowed to open the door”, which causes the cop to ask “is your mommy or daddy at home?”, and the child answers “no”… the cop now has probable cause to believe that a crime is being committed, WITHOUT going through the door without a warrant.

    If the cop’s there because a neighbor called in to report that children are alone inside the home… assuming the tipster meets the requirements to be legally credible… that can form probable cause, too.

    Make no mistake, this is a dumb, dumb bill. But if it passed, it would be enforceable.

  25. James Pollock January 25, 2016 at 3:23 pm #

    ” Can you employ a 17 year old in a job where they could be alone on a night shift?”

    Probably not. State Wage-and-hour laws often limit the hours that minors may work, and overnight is right out.

  26. sloan44 January 25, 2016 at 3:28 pm #

    Every parent has the right to raise their child in the way they see fit..not how the state sees fit. And if the parent(s) see fit that they can leave their child ,under the age of ten, in their household alone then so be it.
    Neither I nor my wife would conform to this, or any other, authoritarian law ordering us how to raise our child..period.

  27. VaughanEvans January 25, 2016 at 3:31 pm #

    When I was a boy( Iam 66 )children would play outdoors-on summer evenings-between dinner time-and when the street lights came on.

  28. Warren January 25, 2016 at 3:38 pm #

    Certainly glad we never lived in such a police state as the US.

    So they are saying that a 17 yr old cannot be left alone overnight. Would that include the ones serving in the military? If I am not mistaken, you can enlist at 17 with parental permission.

    And according to James, they cannot work the night shift at 17. That is BS. I worked the night shift at 17. At 17 I was the only lifeguard on duty at times.

    Your country is truly screwed and making it dangerous for us around you.

  29. Warren January 25, 2016 at 3:40 pm #

    Oh and James, the police had better be knocking on the door for some valid reason, not just checking to see if you are in violation of the child at home law. Now go learn things.

  30. Robin Holmes January 25, 2016 at 4:04 pm #

    Oh well, just cart my worthless mom self off to jail right now. Not only does my 10 year spend the occasional hour alone at home, she also will (gasp) start supper. I was a free range kid and a free range mom long before there was a name for having a resourceful, independent, thinking child!

  31. Kim January 25, 2016 at 4:07 pm #

    I live in Rhode Island and will do my best to attend this hearing. I’m appalled – and embarrassed – that my elected officials would waste their time on this foolishness.

  32. Emily January 25, 2016 at 4:18 pm #

    I see another problem with the “kids over twelve can be left at home alone, but not overnight” rule. Since the state of Rhode Island didn’t put an upward age limit on that, we have to assume that the upward age limit is eighteen, which ignores younger first-year college and university students, who might have begun post-secondary education before their eighteenth birthdays. I had several friends during my first year of university who’d finished grade twelve in the new curriculum in Ontario, but had late birthdays, so they didn’t turn eighteen until a few weeks or months into the academic year. I’m sure there are also a handful of students who skipped a grade at some point, or started kindergarten a year early, or were homeschooled, or went to a Sudbury Valley type school where you can apply to graduate whenever you feel ready. So, here they are, finished with high school, and in university, where the students are always “home alone,” whether that’s in a residence building with minimal supervision from an R.A., or in an apartment or sharehouse off-campus, where there’s no supervision at all. Another problem is camp counsellors. When I was a kid, seventeen was the minimum age to be a counsellor at most overnight summer camps. So, suppose Camp Common Sense hires a just-turned-seventeen-year-old as a junior counsellor, and an older seventeen-year-old who’s turning eighteen in September as a senior counsellor, and makes these two co-counsellors, in charge of the same cabin? Let’s say that both are responsible young people, certified in First Aid and all that good stuff, and they’ve been babysitting for several years. Now, suppose Camp Bureaucracy down the street catches wind of this, and turns Camp Common Sense in to the police? The right answer might be, “Mind your own business,” but the legal answer might be different.

  33. pentamom January 25, 2016 at 5:12 pm #

    It’s true that most states don’t allow minors to work past midnight.

    It’s also true that evening shifts contain hours before midnight. So the child labor laws don’t in themselves prevent minors from working at times that people might consider “night.”

    So yeah, the labor laws probably already prevent kids from being left alone “overnight” at a job. But they don’t prevent them from being left alone “in the nighttime” at a job.

    In practical terms, I’m not sure how many businesses would leave a minor in sole charge at night. But that’s a separate question.

  34. David DeLugas January 25, 2016 at 5:33 pm #

    https://docs.google.com/gview?url=http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/BillText/BillText16/SenateText16/S2104.pdf is the link to this atrocious Bill that violates the Constitutional right of parents to decide for their own children (unless causing actual harm, physical harm or long-term emotional harm).

  35. Diane January 25, 2016 at 5:36 pm #

    This is a terrible law and I hope it gets criticized and ridiculed into non-existence. By the way, I left my 11 yr old in a Chicago hotel room, babysitting his 9 month old brother for 20 minutes this afternoon while I ran down to the pharmacy on the corner. Here’s to capable kids!

  36. Sukie January 25, 2016 at 5:38 pm #

    If something were to happen (e.g. an intruder were to break in) would an 8-year-old be able to handle this on his own? I don’t think so. My mother would never have left me alone at age 10, even for an emergency, and I don’t think that was a bad thing. 12 sounds like a good age to me to be alone for limited periods of time. There are parents out there who are leaving young kids alone regularly. Shouldn’t there be some kind of law put into place to protect these kids?

  37. BL January 25, 2016 at 6:05 pm #

    @Sukie
    “If something were to happen (e.g. an intruder were to break in) …Shouldn’t there be some kind of law put into place to protect these kids?”

    Where I live, we have laws against breaking into houses.

  38. Michelle January 25, 2016 at 6:26 pm #

    @BL, exactly! We already have laws for this.

    @Sukie, if an intruder broke in, what would a 12yo be able to do that an 8yo couldn’t?

    More importantly, if no one broke in, think of all the things a 12yo would have been able to do at 8, but can’t because his growth has been stunted by helicopter parenting.

  39. ChicagoDad January 25, 2016 at 6:42 pm #

    When my grandmother was 9, her mother passed away leaving her to care for her 2 year old brother. It was during the Depression, and my great-grandfather was lucky to have a job on the railroad so he could send some mone home. My grandma did an excellent job caring for her little brother–he later became a war hero.

    If there had been a law in place “to protect these kids” at the time, they would have ended up in a depression-era orphanage, many good men would have died and I would have never been born.

    This is a stupid bill, with a stupid premise. If the Rhode Island legislature wants to enforce their bourgeois parenting values, they should just make it illegal for families to have children without training and a permit from the state. I hear Scotland has some asinine parenting laws that they could emulate.

  40. Andrea January 25, 2016 at 6:56 pm #

    Sukie, if an intruder broke in and I was home alone I don’t know if I, at 36 years old, would necessarily be able to handle it. Does that mean there should be a law prohibiting adults from being home alone since a few of us are less than capable?

    Honestly, I think an 8 year old would be better equipped to handle a break in, because they are less likely to be seen as a threat than an adult.

  41. SamRI January 25, 2016 at 7:08 pm #

    I am a RI parent and these legislative efforts infuriate me! Tried contacting Randall Rose but the email you included does not seem valid.

  42. Backroads January 25, 2016 at 9:15 pm #

    My question is why so individuals are getting these particular bees in their bonnets. Is there nothing else to bring to lawmakers? Nothing?

  43. Warren January 25, 2016 at 9:21 pm #

    Sukie,

    I am sick and tired of that BS crap. If someone broke in…………………….

    I am six foot 2, 245 lbs and in very good physical condition. I would easily say that 95% or more of the population would not be able to do a damn thing against someone my size bent of doing harm.

    Therefore by your logic, 95% of the population should not be allowed to be on their own.

    Give your head a shake.

  44. Emily January 25, 2016 at 9:46 pm #

    >>Sukie,

    I am sick and tired of that BS crap. If someone broke in…………………….

    I am six foot 2, 245 lbs and in very good physical condition. I would easily say that 95% or more of the population would not be able to do a damn thing against someone my size bent of doing harm.

    Therefore by your logic, 95% of the population should not be allowed to be on their own.

    Give your head a shake.<<

    That's a really good point, Warren. I'm fit and strong, and on the bigger/taller side for a woman, but I'm not bigger than you, and if someone your size (but not you, obviously, because you're not that kind of person) broke into my house, I'd be worse than useless against them. So, in your proposed scenario, where people couldn't be on their own unless they were able to defend themselves against an intruder who's six foot two and 245 pounds, that 95% of the population who couldn't be on their own would include most women, most people of Asian decent (of both genders), and just anyone who's genetically predisposed to being smaller. I had a friend in high school who stopped growing JUST past the five-foot mark, and while she's definitely smart and competent (she's a teacher now), she's less than half your size, and again, probably couldn't defend herself against a large home intruder. So, this hypothetical policy, that's supposed to be about "safety," could end up being really discriminatory. Besides, how would it even be enforced? If there was a test, it'd take up a LOT of government resources (paid for by tax dollars) to implement. There'd have to be a sufficient number of big, strong, fit, willing people to administer the test at a time when people are available to take it (and then again for the "re-take day," for those who are sick/injured/out of town on the original test day), and then probably a team of self-defence instructors to teach the test flunkies how to defend themselves, but it wouldn't even be an accurate test, because you'd know it was happening. If a home invasion or robbery actually happened, you wouldn't be expecting it.

  45. James Pollock January 25, 2016 at 10:29 pm #

    “That’s a really good point, … I’m fit and strong, and on the bigger/taller side for a woman, but I’m not bigger than you, and if someone your size (but not you, obviously, because you’re not that kind of person) broke into my house, I’d be worse than useless against them.”

    This is why there is a second amendment, and a castle doctrine.
    It’s not size that makes a person dangerous. It’s willingness to do you harm. And that comes in all sizes.

  46. Mike January 25, 2016 at 10:42 pm #

    I get it. Kids should be allowed to experience life as parents allow them the greater opportunities to mature. That being agreed to let’s think about those small kids who are left to fend for themselves more often than not…

    Do we realize that the first child abuse case was actually tried with laws pertaining to animal cruelty?
    If there is no law on the books, what then can be done to bring justice to the child with absentee parents?

    Given the nanny state of our school administrations, it would not surprise me that a law like this would be used against earnest parents that make the choices mentioned. I posit that the problem is that the culture is being degraded to the place where structure must live where trust has been vacated.

  47. M Imondi January 25, 2016 at 11:16 pm #

    I am so sick of law makers forcing parents to do what “they” think is right. Every family situation is different. And if YOU can allow children to grow up in a drug infested household with no food or proper clothing, no schooling and parents that could give a shit about the children they are just a pay check, then I will be damned if I’m labeled a bad parent because I left my child alone for 5 minutes!!!!! We are the parents not YOU!! Stop telling us what to do! Stop telling us how to raise our children because if I went to YOUR house I wonder what I would find. It is hard enough trying to raise our children to eventually become upstanding citizens with out the state breathing down our necks. You raise you’re kids you’re way and I’ll raise mine my way. I personally don’t leave my children home alone I have a lot of family support and consider myself lucky but there are many one parent families out there that are just trying to make it. Don’t make it harder for them. It hard enough surviving this shitty world.

  48. daveeckstrom January 26, 2016 at 12:53 am #

    What would the state of Rhode Island have done with my parents. When I was 12, I routinely was sent across the creek and through a half mile of swamp out to the back pasture with my 10 and 7 year old brothers to locate a newborn calf, take it away from its angry 1000 lb mother and drag it back to the barn on a plastic sled. How did we survive?

  49. golan2072 January 26, 2016 at 3:24 am #

    The U.S. should add a constitutional amendment abolishing all victimless crimes. No victim? No real (physical or financial) harm done to an actual, living and breathing, human being? No crime, no authority for the police/CPS etc to intervene. This will stop all such bills cold in their tracks.

  50. sexhysteria January 26, 2016 at 5:09 am #

    Maybe legislators in Rhode Island just have a sick sense of humor. I can’t imagine that the citizens of the state want that kind of insane law.

  51. Jens January 26, 2016 at 7:50 am #

    What’s next? Banning parents from sleeping? After all, the kid is not “supervised” if the parents are in their own bedroom, asleep. Any bill requiring constant “supervision” might be interpreted as such.

    Will parents have to take turns doing a nightly watch duty?

  52. KV January 26, 2016 at 10:58 am #

    This is what I was able to pull together to email to my General Assembly members, and the two bill sponsors. (Sent yesterday afternoon. with email ‘return receipts’. Senator Conely and Picard appear to have opened the email. Sen. Walaska and Rep Messier have not. )

    I am STRONGLY AGAINST the revision of Chapter 14-1 of the General Laws entitled “Proceedings in Family Court that is proposed by Senators Walaska and Picard.
    I urge you to vote against the inclusion of this ill-conceived “clarification” for the following reasons:
    1. It infringes on the rights of a parent to make decisions for their child;
    2. In introduces an unnecessary governmental intrusion into families.
    3. Monitoring will be left to ‘busy body’ neighbors who may or may not be impartial; ‘Enforcement’ will divert our existing systems of police and DYF/DCYS to attending to inconsequential and trivial matters, leaving others at greater risk
    4. It does not take into consideration the challenges of single parenting (what if my 8 year old is vomiting in the middle of the night and I need to go get medicine?)
    5. It has the potential to disastrously disrupt a family’s life, finances and ability to care for their child should a parent be prosecuted.
    6. The State already has significant codification of issues of child abuse, neglect, abandonment, and negligent care, with appropriate monitoring, corrective action and punitive measures. This revision has the potential to dramatically increase the need for ‘resources’ that does no-one justice- least of all the families that it is meant to serve. .
    7. Sections a and b are worded so vaguely as to make interpretation and ‘judgement calls’ impossible.
    a. “A child under 10 shall not be left home alone” Could I walk to the mailbox in my apartment complex? Could I mow the lawn? Could I leave a 9 year old at home on the couch, sick, to go pick up a 6 year old from first grade dismissal? “
    b. “…may be left not more than twelve (12) years of age shall be allowed to stay home alone for brief periods of time”… What is meant by ‘brief’? 2 minutes? 5 minutes? 30 Minutes? 60 minutes? It
    8. The age restriction is written so poorly and hastily that Section “D”– Parents and legal guardians should use their judgment to access the maturity and responsibility of their children and to discuss safety procedures and precautions before deciding 10 whether to leave their child(ren) home alone—is in direct conflict with the rest of the elements.

    In summary, this ill-advised age restriction “clarification” does nothing except to further cloud the issues that rightfully belong to the parents. It infringes on our rights to manage our families as we deem appropriate to our specific situation and appropriate to the child. It opens a ‘can of worms’ that does not need to be ‘fixed’.
    Please do not allow this overstepping piece of legislative revision to become part of the general laws. It is a bad revision.
    I would be pleased to speak with you or your colleagues on this matter, and I look forward to your response.

    (Two additional points, sent about 90 minutes later):
    Please note the additional concerns I have with this piece of legislation:
    A) Many school districts have limited bus service to children within a certain radius of the school. At a designated age- usually 7 or 8 (second or 3rd grade), children are deemed to be ‘walkers’ and are no longer offered bus service. The revision to the RI age restriction would directly contravene school department policy leading to mass confusion.
    B) Recent federal legislation the Every Child Achieves Act (a reauthorization of major federal law that governs funding and regulation of elementary education in the United States) permits kids to walk or ride their bikes to school at an age their parents deem appropriate, without the threat of civil or criminal action. Passing the proposed revision would also directly contradict this federal wording, should parents opt to let their kids walk to school un-escorted.

  53. Mike Toreno January 26, 2016 at 11:00 am #

    I’m totally in favor of the home alone law. What if burglars get into the house and the child has to fill the house with booby traps to protect himself?!?!?!?!

  54. Mike Toreno January 26, 2016 at 11:02 am #

    I hit return too fast. The last paragraph is OK, but I think that parents should assess their child’s maturity and judgment before accessing it.

  55. Ophelia Chang January 26, 2016 at 11:21 am #

    Once when I left my then 7 year old alone at home, she created a blog, and it was a good one. The next time I left her home alone, she taught herself to play the piano. This daughter possesses more maturity than many of our legislators. That’s not to say she is average, and that the average 7 year old should be left unsupervised. I have another daughter who didn’t feel comfortable home alone until her teens.

  56. David Beretta III January 26, 2016 at 4:54 pm #

    Way too much interference in our lives. It is like pets in vehicles. Don’t need a law for common sense things. I am very careful with my pet but when that law was passed someone got hyper vigilant and thought they should report me. Nothing happened since the car was in total shade with windows well open on a 75 degree day and my dog wasn’t even panting . I shouldn’t say nothing, I was inconvenienced and had to defend myself.
    10 years old may be way too young if a kid has special needs and an early maturing 8 year old may be fine, it is the parents responsibility to judge. Or maybe the state will require a battery of tests before you are allowed to have a child??

  57. Jamie Glowacki January 26, 2016 at 7:28 pm #

    I thought you might like to see my 9 and a half year old speaking before the Senate Judiciary Committee in RI this evening. Fighting for his 9 year old right to stay home alone.https://www.facebook.com/jamie.glowacki.33/videos/vb.1003664040/10206639640802052/?type=2&theater&notif_t=like

  58. Andre L. January 26, 2016 at 11:22 pm #

    This sort of law, almost always, start as a push by a parent or relatives of someone child who died. Parents of the deceased child then sometimes vow to “dedicate our lives to make sure other children don’t ever suffer from the same fate as ours”.

    It is very, very tricky to go out on frontal assaults against these type of initiatives, because few events garnish more public sympathy for someone than the premature tragic death of someone’s child. Most households have or had children, and children are perceived as vulnerable and blame-less. Parents of children who die sometimes, in grief, channel their own guilt into “something positive” like fighting for draconian legislation.

    I’m not being callous or dismissive or parents’ pain, just trying to bring up a key factor on many, many of these laws that become a nightmare once enacted and put to work by overzealous police and DAs. The idea of a very broad sex offender registry that included even teens, laws all but forbidding unattended playgrounds, absurd regulations concerning pick-up of students from school buses, overreaching powers for child services concerning investigations on latchkey children and the like all started as a result of some horrific crime or event that triggered a movement coalesced around the surviving parents/relatives.

    I think that more than fight specific absurd proposals, some serious and level-headed public discussion ought to be have about the fact new laws are not necessarily the right response for individual tragedies involving minors, at least not as often as it is currently the case. The issue is how to articulate a public argument like that without sounding like a dismissive person who couldn’t care less about other people’s feelings, especially other people who lost a child.

  59. Alex January 27, 2016 at 5:00 am #

    This is insane.

    What is so different about being home alone after 9pm, and when is the end of this “after 9pm” period anyway? 5am? 6am? 7am? They’re not even defining the ridiculous “overnight” restriction for the older children.

    This is not a law anyone needs. I wonder maybe if they’re just worried if children are left alone in their state then they’ll quickly flee across the border to another state.

  60. Aaron January 27, 2016 at 9:18 am #

    Good plan RI. This bill will negatively impact the parents who are already struggling financially and single parents who can not afford baby sitters or the extra help so many of us take for granted. This is incredibly short sighted and stupid.

  61. James January 27, 2016 at 2:03 pm #

    (((PLEASE READ AND RESPOND!))) I’m not sure how to post anywhere but in a comment on this site, so I’m giving my query in a comment. I’m a 14-year-old American male, and, until early November, had a father who led a free-range parenting style. He enjoyed this site a lot and talked about the things he had learned here. However, on November 11, I got into trouble with the police regarding an inappropriate statement I had made about my school online. Rather than allowing this to be another experience in my ascent to maturity, and acknowledging the fact that I had learned my lesson about Internet responsibility, my father took this as an opportunity to reject everything about kid’s rights from this site and go all “Big Brother” on me. From then on, he has put “parental settings” on my computer that allow him to manage and view every click of my mouse, and completely restricting my access to video games (I don’t play the mindless shooter ones — I prefer intellectual roleplayers) as well as making me have meetings with him every day in which we discuss my schoolwork and grades. (I have never had any problem academically, so the necessity of this remains unknown.) Whenever I step out of line, repercussions such as blocking websites I enjoy occur. He hides this obvious power grab under the guise of that “it bothers him that I don’t read as much as I used to.” The same can be said for my other two siblings, neither of which are suffering from the same restrictions. I had assumed for the last three months that when life was back to normal, he would return to his old ways of free-range parenting. I was driven to write this comment by him explicitly stating this morning that, after the ordeal with the police is over, he would not be removing the restrictions or ending the useless meetings, as well as the fact that last night he announced a “New Deal”-style plan to up the amount of chores and work for the whole family. Please, please, PLEASE respond with advice, links, stories, ANYTHING that could help stop this authoritarian change!

  62. Erika January 27, 2016 at 4:31 pm #

    According to https://legiscan.com/RI/text/S2104/2016 this is being “held for further study”–which basically means they’re going to let it die on the vine.

  63. BL January 28, 2016 at 8:57 am #

    @Erika
    “which basically means they’re going to let it die on the vine.”

    … or bring it back later under a slightly different form and name.

  64. Beth January 28, 2016 at 9:20 am #

    @KV, very nice.

  65. Beth Pulsifer January 28, 2016 at 2:04 pm #

    Identify 3 or 4 key legislators and dig through their childhood. Find photos of them doing “dangerous” things like climbing trees when they were young. Go talk to their siblings. Or the folks on the street where they grew up. Or their teachers. Their parents may even admit they left the kids alone in the evening – many parents did back in the day.

    Make it personal and they might back down. If you get a reporter to run a story on what kind of childhood the legislators had, it might dissuade legislators in other states from being so stupid.

  66. BL January 28, 2016 at 3:12 pm #

    @Beth
    “If you get a reporter to run a story on what kind of childhood the legislators had, it might dissuade legislators in other states from being so stupid.”

    Ah, but they’ll just say Things Were Different Then(tm)