Free-Range Kids

Rhode Island: Children Under 10 Shall Not Be Left Home Alone, Even Briefly

Parenting nightmare.

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Kid
Dreamstime

Is there a war on parents in Rhode Island? Recall that this is the state that once wanted to make it illegal for a child under age 12 to get off the school bus unless an adult was waiting there to walk the child home. (That bill was eventually scrapped.) Then there was the bill considered just a couple of weeks ago that would make it illegal to let a child under age 7 wait in the car, under penalty of the state revoking the parent's license for three years. That one is still in play. Now comes this bill that will be debated in the state's Senate judiciary committee today:

1 SECTION 1. Chapter 14-1 of the General Laws entitled "Proceedings in Family Court" is hereby amended by adding thereto the following section:

Age restrictions for children. – Children under ten (10) years of age shall not be left home alone.

Children at least ten (10) years of age and not more than twelve (12) years of age shall be allowed to stay home alone for brief periods of time, but not after 9:00 pm.

Children over twelve (12) years of age may be left home alone, but not overnight.

Parents and legal guardians should use their judgment to access the maturity and responsibility of their children and to discuss safety procedures and precautions before deciding whether to leave their child(ren) home alone.

Once again we have the lawmakers interfering with basic parenting decisions. Why? What if I need to get medicine for my 8-year-old? I have to drag her, vomiting, to the store with me? What if my 11-year-old is reading and it's 9:30 at night and I have to go pick up his dad from the train? I have to take him with me or risk losing him to foster care?

Why is the state so obsessed with making these laws that leave parents no room to decide what works best for them and their families? How does it make children safer to take away their parents' judgment and flexibility? And since when do you have to be 10 to spend any time alone at home? Where does that recommendation even come from? What is it based on, besides a number pulled out of thin air? In the rest of the world, kids age 7 walk to school on their own. In Japan, kindergarteners do it. Why do Rhode Island's lawmakers think their state's 10-year-olds are so helpless?

These laws are preposterous. They assume it is the government's job to dictate family life. They criminalize maturity in children and common sense in parents, and turn mundane decisions—like running out to do an errand—into legal minefields.

So: If you live in Rhode Island and can get to the state legislature on Tuesday, do. A reader who alerted me to this bill, Randall Rose, is organizing parents who would like to put in a word or two. He says the hearing will be in room 313 of the State House (Senate Judiciary Committee), 80 Smith St., Providence. He adds that "It's best to be there by 4:30 p.m. because sometimes they start then, but if you can't make it until 5:00 p.m. or a little later, there's a chance they'll still be going then." His email is: rrose@pobox.com.

Good luck, Rhode Island. Tell the lawmakers we know they are "thinking of the children," but this bill will make criminals out of fine parents, and prisoners out of competent kids. You might also remind the lawmakers that most of them spent some unsupervised time before they were 10, too. (Back when the crime rate was higher than it is today.) Do they wish their parents had been arrested?

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  1. I am now convinced this is a scheme, perhaps subconscious, to cultivate the dependent -and therefore passive – citizen.

    1. That is the inevitable result of central planning. And central planning has been going on for so long it probably is the conscious goal now.

    2. I blame Macaulay Culkin

  2. Children under ten (10) years of age shall 4 (four) not be left home alone.

    Children at least ten (10) years of age and not more than twelve (12) years of age shall 6 (six)be allowed to stay home alone for brief periods of time, but not after 9:00 pm.

    Children over twelve (12) years of age may be left home alone, but not overnight.

    FTFY

    Seriously, these people are idiots.

    1. Reading that, it sounds like it would be illegal to leave your 17 year old home alone while you went away for the weekend.

      No wonder colleges baby 18-22 year olds…

      1. That wad how I read it too.

    2. Children shall be left to their parents’ discretion.

      People shall be left the fuck alone.

      RFTFY.

  3. Children under ten (10) years of age shall not be left home alone.

    So, take ’em to a motel, store, or bar and leave ’em *there*.

    1. Heavily tint your car windows and leave them in there.

      1. What do you think trunks are for?

    2. It sounds like you will be OK if you kick them out into the streets.

  4. Parents and legal guardians should use their judgment to access the maturity and responsibility of their children and to discuss safety procedures and precautions before deciding whether to leave their child(ren) home alone.

    What does this even mean in the context of everything else in the law?

    1. Nothing, it’s absurd. How are you supposed to use your judgement of the maturity of your own children within the framework of the prescriptive requirements contradicting that very judgement? I’d suspect this has something to do with heading off a challenge in the courts on the basis that it still gives parents freedom to raise their children within their own judgement.

    2. ” . . .use their judgment to access the maturity and responsibility . . .”

      And, seriously? Access?

      The person who wrote this and every moron who reviewed it before release is an illiterate statist.

  5. In Japan, kindergarteners do it.

    Yes, but Japanese schools also provide their kids defense training against the Kuchisake-onna.

    1. My 7 year old walks about 1 kilometer to school every morning. I’ve seen 6 year olds on the morning train. Why do we hate our Japanese kids?

      1. You forgot the “make our kids wear shorts year-round in all weather conditions” part.

        1. I don’t see you whining about the mandatory high school girl skirts.

            1. Why do I fall for it everytime?

            2. That’s dirty pool, HM. Dirty pool.

  6. Why do Rhode Island’s lawmakers think their state’s 10-year-olds are so helpless?

    To be fair, have you met some of our Hit ‘n Runners from RI?

    1. To be fair, have you seen some of of the RI legislators? I think the technical term is projection.

  7. My son turned ten just the other day
    He said, “Thanks for the ball, Dad. Come on let’s play.
    Can you teach me to throw?”
    I said, “Not today. I got a lot to do”
    and they took him away.

  8. How exactly does the author of this bill think the state of Rhode Island would enforce this it?

      1. +1 abuse of power

    1. Snitches.

      1. Absolutely. Mrs. Kravitz would have 911 on speed dial

    2. By wontonly violating the fourth and fifth amendments, duh.

  9. Is there a war on parents in Rhode Island?

    There’s definitely a war on children, since they’re never allowed to be alone.

  10. What magical thing happens at 9 pm that makes it more dangerous for a child to be left alone?

    1. South Park?

  11. I wish the comment engine was better at our beloved Hit & Run.

    I comment a lot at Yahoo, and it’s pretty good, although it has undergone some changes that make it less good. You can thumb up or down, and there’s a link so that you can find your comments. The “My Comments” go all the way back to previous articles so you can find something old if you want.

    The best engine I’ve encountered is at the SBNation collection of sports sites. I go to http://www.widerightnattylite.com/ which is the Iowa State site. The comments there are free-wheeling, with auto-updates and context highlighting. It’s very enjoyable.

    1. I have suggested the SB engine multiple times.

    2. I’m on SB a lot and it is nice. I can see what comments I’ve posted and if they’ve gotten any replies, and all the new comments (that I haven’t read) on each post are numbered (500 comments, 120 unread) and on entering the post the unread comments are marked in color and can be driven to by pressing ‘z’.

      Threads die here in less than 24 hours because replies and new comments can’t easily be referenced.

  12. “…under penalty of the state revoking the parent’s license for three years….”

    I have to admit doing a search; National Lampoon is no longer possible.

  13. It is easier to define technical crimes than to get a jury to convict based on subjective criteria like child endangerment. You’re a drug dealer if you have more than x, you’re drunk if your BAC is more than x, you’re reckless driving if driving over x, …

    1. Bureaucrats everywhere; they’re queer for numbers.

      1. Math is hard. Law enforcement is harder. Abusing the plebes is fun and easy.

  14. Children over twelve (12) years of age may be left home alone, but not overnight.

    So, I can be sure that RI has any laws about loitering around all night observing children who are home alone, right?

    1. The State will rely on its compliant and civic minded citizens to report your transgressions to the proper authorities. It will be their duty and they will be guilty of an infraction for failing to do so.

    2. So, these same 12 year-olds can go on a camp out alone overnight (not at home)?

  15. You know, I have some friends that continue to tell me I’m crazy to worry about things like this. And yet, now we see some of these things becoming law. This is normally where I say “Unbelievable”, unfortunately, I do believe it considering all the nanny-esque things the state pushes on us daily.

  16. use their judgment to access assess the maturity and responsibility of their children

    FTFY Rhode Island

  17. “These laws are preposterous. They assume it is the government’s job to dictate family life. They criminalize maturity in children and common sense in parents, and turn mundane decisions?like running out to do an errand?into legal minefields.”

    If you have any doubts about the tyranny of progressivism, look no further than States like Rhode Island, Mass., Connecticut, and New Jersey on matters concerning child care, gun rights, and any other freedom you care to name. It has attained a beach-head in these places and the invasion is well under way.

    While I have come to appreciate the humor of many of the commenters I often encounter here at Hit and Run, this is really no laughing matter as we can all expect it to be on our doorsteps tomorrow if we do not fight it like whack-a-mole every time it raises its ugly head. Call me Cassandra [yep, leaving that door wide open for you all you wits out there] but this shit genuinely bothers me.

    1. Humor is a defense mechanism. Being dead serious about this stuff all the time would be way too depressing.

      1. We laugh because otherwise we cry.

  18. I understand humor as a defense mechanism, and invite it as such.

    I did after all say call me Cassandra.

  19. I have friends and family in New England, and I love to visit there, but shit like this keeps me from ever moving to that region. Of course the pols who come up with these laws probably consider that a benefit.

    1. It seems to are increasingly inured to more government oversight and intrusion, in areas that certainly should be left to the purview of the individual or family. Every time someone claims “there ought to be a law” there will be one. That it may be well intentioned [and that is debatable] I am reminded of Samuel Johnson:

      The road to hell is [paved with] good intentions.

    2. Northern New England is much less bad.

      1. Correct, people in Maine have much less tolerance for this kind of nannyism than do the people of southern New England.

  20. ” Then there was the bill considered just a couple of weeks ago that would make it illegal to let a child under age 7 wait in the car, under penalty of the state revoking the parent’s license for three years.”

    Their driver’s license, or their parent’s license?

  21. I lived in RI for a while and had a couple of girlfriends from there. I don’t think I would leave an adult Rhode Islander unsupervised even for a short time. That state is seriously retarded, as are most of the people who live there; hence why they elect politicians who even consider BS laws like this for their own/the childrens’ good. It has a few nice beaches but that’s about it (oh yeah, they have coffee milk and Del’s Frozen Lemonade too).

  22. people hate slippery slope arguments, but this is the typical kind of shit that happens when you cede more and more control over your life to bureaucrats and politicians. Eventually, they just don’t ask anymore. They just take your freedom and you’re supposed to just sit there, shut up and take it.

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  24. This is going to hurt the single moms involved in the babies for govt. handouts industry.
    Can’t let your 8 year old babysit their four younger siblings when you step out to the club.

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