At what age is it okay to leave a child at home alone? Is 10 too young? What about leaving a 14 year-old in charge of an 8 or 9 year-old?

Whether it's to run a quick errand, or all day because you couldn't take the day off or find/afford a sitter, it's a question many of us have grappled with at one time or another.

Most experts agree your child's maturity, and your state's laws are the best ways to determine when it's OK to leave kids home alone.

In Texas, that means it's basically a parental decision. Per the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services website:

Texas law doesn't say what age is old enough for a child to stay at home alone."

In other words, in Texas there is no minimum age requirement.

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However, leaving a child or children alone with the TV on and a few Hot Pockets in the 'fridge could result in an investigation or charges if it's determined the kid is not being adequately supervised.

The DFPS considers that “neglectful supervision," which it defines as "placing a child in or failing to remove a child from a situation that a reasonable person would realize requires judgment or actions beyond the child's level of maturity, physical condition, or mental abilities and that results in bodily injury or substantial risk of immediate harm to the child."

The state agency recommends taking several factors into consideration before making your decision, including the age, emotional maturity and capability of the child; whether he or she has any mental, physical or medical disabilities; how long and how often the child will be left alone; and the child’s ability to respond to an emergency.

If you suspect a child has been abused or neglected or have any questions about a situation you think might be abuse or neglect, call the DFPS Abuse and Neglect Hotline at 1-800-252-5400.

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