Because the investigations involved juveniles and to keep their identities concealed, the Sheriff’s Office will not release the names of the parents involved. The incidents were June 13 and June 18.
On June 13, a family left their 9-year-old daughter home to babysit her 2-year-old brother while the parents went to work. Both parents were arrested and charged with reckless conduct, said Sheriff Wendell Beam.
On June 18, a 12-year-old boy was left home alone to care for his 8-year-old and 2-year-old brothers while the parents went to court in Fulton County. During this time, Beam said, the 2-year-old somehow managed to get out of the house and was almost struck by two vehicles traveling on the road near the child’s home.
Chief Investigator Capt. Tony Ranieri said “the first car stopped and called us and while she was trying to get him out of the road a second car came over the hill and almost hit him.” Ranieri said the boy was not hurt.
As in the other case, both parents were arrested and charged, said Ranieri.
“DFACS was notified and a safety plan was instigated at both homes,” Ranieri said.
Like most states, Beam said, Georgia does not have regulations or laws to determine when a child is considered old enough to care for her/himself or to care for other children. However, there are state guidelines administered through the Division of Family and Children Services to evaluate situations and determine if a child neglect investigation is warranted.
Beam is encouraging parents to use sound judgment and assess the maturity and responsibility of their children before deciding whether to leave them home alone. In a press release, Beam also provided the state’s guidelines for leaving a child without adult supervision:
• Children younger than 8 years old should never be left alone, even for short periods of time.
• Children between the ages of 9 and 12, based on level of maturity, can be left home alone for brief periods of time.
• Children 13 and older can generally be left as babysitters, with the exception of children in foster care. It is not recommended, however, that 13-year-olds babysit infants, small children and children that require special attention due to medical conditions.
• Children 15 and older can be left home alone overnight, depending on the level of maturity of the child.
Beam said cases reported to the Sheriff’s Office will be investigated and criminal charges could be filed depending on the outcome of the investigations and the circumstances surrounding the incident.