Questions Posted to "Ask a Dispatcher"
Q. What is the law for leaving children home alone? Is there a age they have to be? Even if its just for an hour?
Dear Juneau Resident,
There isn't anything in the law that is a 'bright line' for children left alone. There are situations involving children of many ages that would get the attention of a JPD officer and would warrant calling the Office of Children's Services (OCS), possibly for emergency custody. Those situations are when the child is left alone but isn't mature enough to know how to handle an emergency including one involving any younger children being babysat.
-Two years old? Too young by any reasonable standard.
-Five years to Seven years? Totality of the circumstances is important as is the child's maturity. Is a neighbor looking in? Is there a plan for emergencies? This is a case by case situation.
-Eight or Nine years old? Depends on the child.
-Twelve years old, still not home free if they aren't very mature.
-Thirty-five years old, different issue.
If you see an emergency involving a child, like a three year old wandering around a bar parking lot after the bar closed and people are pulling out (that did happen) call JPD immediately. If you have concerns and it's not a pressing emergency you should call OCS at 465-1650. Nights and weekends the number takes you to an answering service that can contact an on call caseworker.