There are headlines in the news all the time about parents leaving their children home alone to go to work, or to go out to party, or just to run to the store for milk. We usually hear about them because they got caught somehow, and we all tsk tsk about the things that could have happened. Well, last week in British Columbia, something did happen.
An 18-month-old boy died in a house fire while his parents went out for a walk. They say they left the stove on for heat and headed out to enjoy the night air. Neighbors say they saw the couple arriving back home to their house engulfed in flames.
So incredibly sad, but also possibly preventable, had they just not made the choice to leave the child alone -- a decision I'm sure will plague them with guilt for the rest of their lives.
It's so tempting to run out for a few minutes, I know. The kids are sleeping, you need milk, and the store is just around the corner; or the neighbor is down the block and you need to chat with her for a minute. Most of the time nothing will happen, but there's always the possibility it could, and that possibility should keep children in an adult's care at all times, even if they're sound asleep in a crib and couldn't possibly go anywhere.
Of course, cases like this also raise the question of how young is too young to leave children by themselves. Clearly this child was much too young, but what if he had been 10 or 12 or 15? While some states have laws, it's mostly a decision each parent has to make based on his or her child and how responsible and mature the parent thinks that child is.
And when it comes to leaving any child home alone with a stove on, you also have to question how responsible it is to do that.
Do you ever leave your children home alone? At what age will you?
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