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Babysitting and Leaving Children Home Alone in Oregon: Update


** Please see the February 2011 and June 2009 updates. **

My most popular posts (here and here) need a little link-refreshing:

From the City of Albany web site (click on Curfew):

At what age can a child be left home alone? Legally at 10 years of age; however, you may want to consider ORS 163.545.

163.545 Child neglect in the second degree.
(1) A person having custody or control of a child under 10 years of age commits the crime of child neglect in the second degree if, with criminal negligence, the person leaves the child unattended in or at any place for such period of time as maybe likely to endanger the health or welfare of such child
(2) Child neglect in the second degree is a Class A misdemeanor.
What is the legal babysitting age? There is no law regarding a specified babysitting age. What is being taught by the local classes offered to prospective sitters is age 11 or 12. The law that may pertain to the 12 years of age follows.

161.290 Incapacity due to immaturity.
(1) A person who is tried, as an adult in a court of criminal jurisdiction is not criminally responsible for any conduct which occurred when the person was under 12 years of age.
(2) Incapacity due to immaturity, as defined in subsection (1) of this section is a defense.

See also Clackamas County web site for more on when one can leave a child home alone.

ORS references are to the Oregon Revised Statutes. The 2005s are still there and the 2007s will be posted any day now.

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70 responses to “Babysitting and Leaving Children Home Alone in Oregon: Update”

  1. Anonymous says:

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Jezebel says:

    Thanks for posting this info! My oldest daughter just turned ten and, last time she was home from school with a stomachache, insisted that it would be OK for her to stay at home alone so I could run to the store before my husband got home. I didn’t quite buy it, but I told her I’d look it up, and here it turns out she’s right. 🙂 Kids are pretty smart sometimes.

    • Ari says:

      My ten year old walks home sometimes from school for an hour. She also stayed home from school sick but I came home during lunch and I work across the street.

  3. Anonymous says:

    thanks for posting this:)

  4. marta says:

    Is there any law about 2, 3 or 4 children being left in one home alone that are just friends. or days alone or over night alone?


  5. Laura says:


    I posted an update that might give you some ideas on who can answer your specific question. I posted it on 1/13/09 at:

    Thank you for visiting the Oregon Legal Research blog 🙂

    Laura (the Law Librarian)

  6. Anonymous says:

    So could a 12years old boy stay at home and watch 4 other children who are younger then him is this ok?

    • Anonymous says:

      no he is old enough to look after himself but not other children

      • David Carns says:

        The article above states that there is no law, but local classes are teaching that 11 or 12 is ok.

        I’m not sure where your info is coming from?

  7. Anonymous says:

    Under OR laws of babysitting this is completely legal. I really do believe that it’s important to have emergency contact numbers to contact people in case of any circumstances.

  8. concerned says:

    so can a twelve old babysit 5 kids in foster care is there not alot of possible dangers calling parents ect. ect

  9. Laura says:

    Dear Concerned:

    It sounds to me as if you really (really!) need to contact someone who can advise you on the laws of child protection and fostering.

    Call your county's information line or your local juvenile court or your district attorney's office or the Oregon State Bar for a referral to the right person/office.

    If you don't know any of the numbers, call your local public library or law library reference line for a referral.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Is it o.k. if an 11 year old watches 3 other younger siblings?

  11. Anonymous says:

    My husband and I were wondering what age children have to be to start baby-sitting. Now we know. Thank you for the info. Now our son can start watching the other kids!!

  12. Anonymous says:

    umm is it ok for my ten year old to be a babysitter?

  13. Anonymous says:

    can my 12 yr old stay home and watch my 6 yr old for three hrs after school?

  14. Anonymous says:

    can my 11 year old daughter babysitte her 2 younger sibblings?

  15. Anonymous says:

    can a 14 yr old look after 5 younger children?

  16. Anonymous says:

    When my children are with their dad and his girlfriend, they are often left under the supervision of her 12yr old daughter. My children are 4 and 6. She also watches her 6yr old brother and 9yr old sister at the same time for a period of 4-6 hours. I am concerned, for I do not believe any 12yr old has the knowledge or maturity to SAFELY watch four young children. Some adults can't handle that much responsiblity. Is there anything I can do to make certain my children are safe. The 12yr old in question cares more about her social life at this point in time. She has taught my children sexually explicit words and behaviors. My 4yr old daughter, unfortunatly looks up to this girl. What do I do? There is no talking to my ex.

  17. Kamara says:

    No your 10 and 11 and 12 year olds cannot babysit multiple siblings. It is legal, yes. BUT that is why they go on to tell you that you are committing neglect by placing your child in a situation that would most likely cause harm. There is no 10-12 year old on the planet that can take care of 2 or more siblings. Quit putting that burden on your children and be responsible parents. In this day and age you have no excuse for doing this.

    • Anonymous says:

      That's not true. Large families do that all the time. In fact, I did it. I watched my two brothers and two cousins. I enjoyed it. My grandparents were next door to me and my Aunt and Uncles were around me. Try living on a reservation! Not all kids are irresponsible.

    • Anonymous says:

      I fail to see how it is a burden to help teach your kids to be responsible and care for others. It is in no way shirking parental duties, in fact it is a time to teach and train your children. A responsible parent looks for opportunities to help their children learn.

    • Anonymous says:

      I watched 3 siblings when I was 12 and did a dam fine job at it. Your comments are completely ignorant. No excuse? Do you even have kids, a job, and bills to pay? My parents worked their butts off for a crappy wage and couldn't afford daycare for all of us. Simple as that. But they raised mature and responsible children.

    • Anonymous says:

      The problem is when people have children they had no right having and putting the burden of their babys safety on their other child's hands. Babysitting once in a while is one thing saving money on daycare by making ur child watch another child is wrong. They need to be kids don't put your adult problem of child care on another child grow up. Be their parent not their anchor.

    • (Parent of 3) says:

      I Disagree, My 11 and 10 year old are very responsible for their ages, a d stay home with their 8 year old Brother. I leave them a way to keep in Direct contact with me at All Times! Again, there is No Law that States it is Not Legal in the State of Oregon…As for the Possible Neglect, that’s a Matter of Opinion!!! It’s an Opinion based off of other Childrens actions, Not Mine!!! So I give this Advice to You: If Your Not Comfortable with the Situation(s), then go with your gut feeling(Parental Instincts) but if You feel your Child or Children are Responsible enough and your not going to be driving to the other Country Side or to another Town, but yet staying close by, there is Nothing Wrong with it!!! Just make sure you have a Plan in Mind for you to Respond(Getting back to them in a quick manner) if there was to be an emergency!!!

  18. Anonymous says:

    How I see it…according to the law it would really come down to whether another adult, for example a child welfare person, would evaluate the situation. If you have a very responsible 10, 11, 12 year old child they might be able to handle certain situations for a short amount of time, less than an hour. But Kamara is right. We have to be responsible parents and consider ALL the avenues. Does this child treat their siblings with love and respect? Do they know and follow the house rules? Are they capable of enforcing those rules if necessary? What are acceptable forms of discipline for them to use with their siblings should the need arise? And so on. In truth, if you have ANY doubts about the safety and welfare of your children while with a babysitter, whether your own child or not, you need to seriously consider where those doubts come from and act accordingly.

    I have left my 10 year old at home with the three younger ones, 7, 4, and 2, to run 2 minutes away to the store and return within 10 minutes. HOWEVER, I always worry and keep my cell on me ready to go. What if I got stopped? or the van broke down or something. We can't know every possible thing that could happen to us while running to the store, but we need to be able to evaluate how the child we left in charge would act if mom didn't come home when she expected her to. I am confident that my daughter would do all the right things. She knows the family numbers and the emergency numbers. She knows the fire escape routes and which children to worry about the most. In summary, I am very blessed to have the responsible child I have.

    Take the time to evaluate your children, teach them emergency plans and good values. If you lead by example and they know what is expected of a responsible person, they will likely follow in your footsteps.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for posting all of this information. I have a 12 year old at home and its nice to know leaving him in charge for a 20 minute grocery run is legally permitted. One really can't be too sure nowadays where parents are being reported left and right for things that really are blown out of proportion.

    Anyway, I appreciate it! Thank again!

  20. Anonymous says:

    I have an 11 (almost 12) year old son and a 7 1/2 year old. What I am trying to figure out is if it is okay to leave them at home to go for a morning or evening run for 45 minutes or so.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Even kids over twelve can not watch more than three children at one time.

    • Anonymous says:

      Ignorant comment. They sure can. America has become a nanny state. I drove a tractor at age 11 in the fields on my parents farm. Watched my brothers and sisters and fixed them meals. America has headed down the crapper.

    • Somebody says:

      Um, I think you need to do a little more research.
      Kids can start babysitting at the age of 11 years in my state. They can get a babysitting license if they wanted to even and can babysit as many children as they are capable of. And in at least all states 12 is usually the starting age unless the state chooses otherwise. 😉

  22. Anonymous says:

    At what age in, the state of Oregon, does a child have the legal right to CHOOSE which parent they wish to live with when the parents are divorced? I know, from personal experience, that North Carolina is, or was in 1987, 14 and the state of Wyoming is, or was, 12 in 1987. This is something I really need to know. Is for my daughter and her 2 girls. Thank you in advance for any information you may be able to share with me. And if there are any web sites I could access that would be so helpful.

    • Anonymous says:

      Under Oregon law, a child cannot determine where he or she lives until they are 18. I went through a custody case with my oldest in Washington County a few years back. A judge may take an older child's preferences into consideration, but the child does not have any actual legal say.

  23. Anonymous says:

    can a 13 1/2 year old spend the night alone

  24. Anonymous says:

    The time of day your child will be home alone can greatly impact her safety and security, as well as your own comfort levels. I decided to leave my son at home alone when he reached 12. He was very responsible at that age but as a parent the most important thing is my child's safety. This blog covers how a mother is dealing with a heartbreaking experience and how you can better protect your kids. This is the link:

  25. Anonymous says:

    my daugther is 18 next month,is it ok to let her babysit her 10 year old brother,ive been told she to young.what is the age the law say she can.

  26. Anonymous says:

    My ex let my daughter that is 8 walk 10 blocks to the store with a 9 year old girl….isn't that neglect? I believe that you have to be at least 11 years old to be left without parental supervison….and walking to the store is even more of a concern than just be at home alone.

  27. Anonymous says:

    I know a woman who leaves her now 1yr old with an 11 year old sibling while she goes all the way from Eugene to Willamette Pass and back. Mostly this is in the evening right after work. I thought it was illegal to leave the city you live and work in and leave your children in someone/daycare without an emergency note, and who would leave an 11 year old with that kind of responsibility? There is no other family member until Roseburg if there was an emergency

  28. Anonymous says:

    SO, My three children. 8,7,&6 can ride their bicycles to the city park and be there all day without a parent and that is not breaking the law? But if I drive to the store once they are back on my property I am committing a misdemeanor?
    When I was a child of 8 I came home from school by myself and was home alone for at least two hours before my parents got off of work.

    I would never leave my children home for more than about 20 minutes, or let them go to the park without checking in every hour on the hour. But, I will not load all of my children into the car just because we ran out of hamburger buns and a trip to the store is gonna be ten minutes without them.

    • Linda says:

      I guess you do what you think is convenient and safe but I would NEVER leave children that young home for even 20 minutes. Mine were 12 and 10 and I was gone less than 10 min a mile from the house when a neighbor(who lives downstairs and knew to keep an eye on the kids) had to call me and I had to go to the emergency room because the younger one got hurt. Accidents happen and until at least one is over 12-13 and knows how to handle emergencies, it is important you let a neighbor know if you must leave them.

  29. NanaBanana says:

    My sister wants to leavr her 2 kids ages 11 & 7 alone while she works swing shift from 2- midnight. I think it is insane but is it legal.

    • Somebody says:

      She is not insane, 11 is the age when a kid is legally allowed to start babysitting and staying home alone.

      • Guest says:

        For 3 hours for an 11 year old, maybe, but not the 7 year old and not for an 8 hour shift every day! Legal and safe may be two different things. Every state has different laws.

  30. Anonymous says:

    i have 8 you old son can he stay home alone after school for about 2 hours by him self ?

  31. Amanda Hufford says:

    I am a manager at an apartment complex and I got a maintinence request from one of my tenants who complained she could not turn on her ceiling fan without her heater also kicking on, she told me she and her husband would be at work all day, but since I have an emergency key she wouldnt mind if I went in while they were away. Upon entering the apartment, I was shocked to find a young boy watching his baby sister, presumably all day since that was how long his mom told me they would be away. I looked in their file, and he was born in 2000 making him about 13 and she was born late in 2011 making her no more than 18 months. Is this legal??

    • Somebody says:

      Yes it is perfectly legal, 13 is the age when a kid is more trusted to actually babysit other people’s children. 😉

  32. eugenehobound says:

    Not that I do would do it, but do you think its okay for a mom to leave her 7yr old 3yr old and a 11 month baby at home, from 9:30pm to 2:30am or possibly over night … when the bars close. ? Real classy of a mom.

  33. Somebody says:

    In Oregon, once a child is of 11 years of age they can legally take care of their siblings. That is what my parents have told me, 11 is of course the legal age. Though not usually the age people let them do babysitting jobs, but once 11 they can be left home alone with your other children no matter what age. Usually 13 or 14 is when a kid can start babysitting other kids as a paying job if they have a license. So they have to take a class in order to do that but they are able to babysit other peoples children if trusted by that person.
    I am 14 years old, and at 12 I babysat a girl name _____ (not saying her name) and I babysat her for 8 hours while her grandmother was at work. Of course this was somebody that lived in my neighborhood and had known me since I was little so she trusted me, really it’s the parents choice whether or not to leave their child with a teen/tween. The police (no matter what people tell you) can’t arrest the parent since it is their child and if they trust somebody then they trust that person and will leave their child with that person for however long they’re comfortable with.
    That’s to answer the people’s questions about if it’s legal or not.

    • Dawn Campbell says:

      I myself was 13 when I started babysetting other peoples children. There is nothing wrong with it, as long as the setter is mature enough to know what to do in case of a emergency. And also knows how to care for a baby or younger child. Safety is the number one factor. Some kids at 13 are not responsible enough to be left alone for very long at a time, let alone be in charge of caring for others. Whether be their own siblings or someone elses kid. It all depends on the person themselves as to if they are responsible or not.

      • Starr says:

        When i was seven years old I walked six blocks home from school alone, and took care of myself all afternoon. I started babysitting my brother at eight years old. I started babysitting other neighborhood children at nine years old. When i was ten i didn’t go to school, instead I tended two four year olds (my little brother and another neighbor’s boy), every weekday for a year, then babysat other kids on the weekend. If you tell me that your child is ten and you can’t possibly leave them alone ever, then you have not taught them responsibly. That is your failing as a parent, not your child’s immaturity. I would be fully confident in leaving my eight and six year old alone after school until i get home – if these stupid laws didn’t exist to protect this generation of helpless children that people are currently raising. My comments may sound a little harsh, but it’s so frustrating these days with all these laws meant for the many parents who have decided not to teach their children independence, and then the rest of us also have to follow these pointless rules.

  34. Sandy Nicholson says:

    My 12 year old daughter was left alone in my ex-husband’s apartment overnight while he worked graveyard…or so he says. She was terrified. I didn’t find out until she told me when she came home. Is this legal because I AM FURIOUS!!!

  35. Curious says:

    Can a 12yr old be left home alone for 24hrs legally?

  36. Shyanne says:

    So I am 13 gonna be 14 in june am I aloud to legally babysit other people’s kids?

  37. kimber1966 says:

    my son and his wife are going through a divorce they share custody, my question is my 6 yr old grandson told me that his 11 yr old uncle babysits him and his almost 3 yr old brother, it just seems wrong and unsafe. Is it legal? I’m worried about them not being safe.

    • Linda says:

      An 11 year old “might be okay” watching a 6 year old for less than an hour but not a 3 year old. It depends on your state. I would have grave concerns and not be afraid to voice them. If you are not being heard by your son/his wife, talk to a neighbor and see what they’ve witnessed. The kids might be doing a lot more than the adults realize that is not safe.

  38. Brenda says:

    What I would personally do as the parent of the 12 year old is to have them attend and complete: a babysitting course, a first aid class and CPR training. Keep the certificates and documentation that your son completed these classes. Red Cross used to offer them for free…some hospitals have the classes for free. This would be smart information for him to have anyway and would give you KYA insurance (cover your “butt”)

  39. Stephanie says:

    My sister leaves her kids alone with her 12 year old for several hours at a time. My concern is that she leaves her with 4-5 other kids between the ages of 9 and 2. Is that legal or child she get in trouble for that?

  40. […] previous post from Feb 2008 is here. Most of the links are still good, including the ones to the City of Albany, Clackamas County (look […]

  41. […] who just left me a Comment on my previous leaving children home alone post asked if there were any laws “about 2, 3 or 4 children being left in one home alone that are […]

  42. Carolyn says:

    Can my 11 year old be home alone with my 8 yr old for 2-3 hrs?

  43. […] Babysitting and Leaving Children Home Alone in Oregon … – At what age can a child be left home alone? Legally at 10 years of age; … the state of Oregon, does a child have the legal … babysitting and staying home alone … […]

  44. […] Babysitting and Leaving Children Home Alone in Oregon … – Is there any law about 2, 3 or 4 children being left in one home alone that are just friends. or days alone or over night alone? Marta […]

  45. Dick says:

    To whoever the donk is who keeps asking if an 11 year old can legally watch his 4 other kids, I hope your not serious. If you are, I strongly suggest you either grow up quickly, or give your children away to someone that really wants to raise kids. Dig deep my man, I know you can do it. I work 65 hours a week and my girl works 40, and we’re still able to make sure my step kids are never left home alone. You will regret leaving an 11 year old alone with 4 other kids. PLEASE try to access the common sense region of your brain before you make that decision.

  46. sara says:

    can a 12 year old be left at home over night while the parent works? room mate wants daughter to move in and we all work nights. thank you for posting this info

  47. Shelly says:

    Can my 15 year old babysit her almost 3 year old brother during an overnight shift?

  48. Person says:

    My friend has an eleven year old and ten year old. She’s trying to figure out if they are old enough to stay home alone for a few hours during the day. From reading all this they are both old enough to care for themselves.

  49. Sophia says:

    So I want to know if it’s legal to leave my 9 yr old and 10 yr old home for 2 hours?? …they always want to stay home and there responsible..

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