HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – A mother on vacation in Delaware is facing charges for leaving her eight-and nine-year-old kids home alone. Susan Terrillion, of Maryland, is charged with two counts of endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor offense.
Carolyn Hopwood, of Mechanicsburg, knows all too well what can happen when kids are left home alone.
“I took a bike ride with my son, and a couple of the other adults ran out for coffee or to get some bagels. Our two littlest kids in the house woke up, were home alone, and they called 911,” Hopwood said.
Hopwood said miscommunication among parents led to the situation while on vacation in New Jersey. Her kids were eight and 10 at the time. Police said she could have been charged but gave her a verbal warning.
That wasn’t the case for the woman vacationing in Rehoboth Beach with her kids. She left for 45 minutes to get food five miles away.
“I think it’s crazy if the eight- and nine-year-old are responsible enough to stay in the house for 45 minutes while she runs out. It’s perfectly acceptable to me. I don’t think the kids were in danger,” Hopwood said.
The Dauphin County District Attorney’s Office says parents should use common sense on deciding what age and circumstances to leave their kids home alone.
“I think the biggest thing is just that parents use their common sense when it comes to their kids. That’s the biggest rule of thumb I would say to go by,” Dauphin County Chief Deputy District Attorney Sean McCormack said.
McCormack says Pennsylvania doesn’t set a specific age when kids can be left home alone. Delaware and New Jersey also don’t specify an age.
“If you’re leaving your child home alone, and maybe they’re 11, 12, 13 years old, you’re probably going to be safe. If you’re leaving a 10-year-old home with your infant child, you’re probably not going to be safe,” McCormack said.
You should make sure your kids have an emergency contact number if you’re going to leave them alone.