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Update to “Leaving Children Home Alone in Oregon”


See recent update (2/10/11), but also click on the Home Alone label at the bottom of this post.
In addition to my new Kids Home Alone in Oregon legal research guide and my rather lengthy previous post, from January 13, 2009, I add these:

1) A corrected link to the “What is the legal age for leaving a child home alone?” information at the Clackamas County Juvenile Department FAQ. This deep link changes periodically so don’t despair. Just hunt around a bit or leave a Comment here and I’ll look for the new link.

2) Oregonians, including law enforcement and DHS, are concerned with what is safe for the child, regardless of age, so make sure you check with your local social service and law enforcement offices.

3) Some local jurisdictions have their own laws about leaving kids on their own, anywhere, e.g. Portland’s City Code, which reads (as of this date):

14A.80.040 Unattended Minors in Vehicles.
It is unlawful for any person having the care and custody of a minor under 6 years of age to leave the minor unattended in a locked vehicle, or to leave the minor unattended in an unlocked vehicle for more than 15 minutes. A minor is unattended within the meaning of this Section if the oldest person with the minor is under the age of 10 years.”

4) The age of the child is not always specified in laws on when children in your care can be left on their own. And, sometimes more than one law pertains to your situation, which is why you may need professional advice. For example:

Abandonment of a child: It is considered “abandonment of a child” if a parent or guardian of a child under 15 years of age deserts their child in any place with intent to abandon him or her (ORS Chapter 163).

Child Neglect :The law says a person who has 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 a period of time as may be likely to endanger the health or welfare of such child. Child neglect in the second degree is a Class A misdemeanor (ORS Chapter 163).

There are also laws about failing to supervise a child: A person commits the offense of failing to supervise a child if the person who is the parent, lawful guardian or other person lawfully charged with the care or custody of a child under 15 years of age and the child:
a) Commits an act that brings the child within the jurisdiction of the juvenile court as a delinquent.
b) Violates a curfew law of the county or any other political subdivision, or
c) Fails to attend school as required by law (
ORS Chapter 163)

5) You will need to do the research and consult an attorney if your situation isn’t clear, or might not be clear to law enforcement or DHS.
6) I’ve also updated our Legal Research Guides on Children and Babysitting. You can find these guides and other legal research guides and links at the Washington County (Oregon) Law Library website.

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