Dear Free-Range Kids: I’m sending a link to a WHEC (Rochester NY local station) news story with updates on the mom who was charged after leaving her kid at the Eastview Mall LEGO Store. The officer in the video said some interesting things, both discouraging (under 16 and left alone for 2 hours is too long) and encouraging (it depends on the child). I’d be interested in reading your take on it.
My take: How amazing and cool that this station did a follow up on something people truly wonder about: What age CAN you legally leave your child alone?
Because as it turns out, the mom left her child for over two hours — a fact originally unreported by the sheriff’s office.
I agree with the person who sent the link that that the officer asserting that, “When you’re under the age of 16, you shouldn’t be left alone in a store for two hours” ” is nutty — 16-year-olds can drive! Even framing the issue as someone “being left alone” seems to imply that parental accompaniment is a given until the parent peels off.
But I also agree that leaving a child who doesn’t know where his mom is, or how to reach her, is not fair to the kid. I don’t think it “endangers” the child, and I certainly don’t think it should be treated as a crime. It’s just a sad situation, and if anything, it warrants a little chat, not an investigation. – L