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Child supervision

The kind of supervision children need depends on their age, maturity, abilities, and surroundings. Adequate supervision is essential to keeping kids safe. An adult caregiver is accountable for the child's care, and inadequate supervision can be a type of neglect (neglectful supervision). Here are some of things you should think about when deciding how closely to supervise a child:

• How old, emotionally mature, and capable is your child?

• What is the layout and safety of the home, play area, or other setting?

• What are the hazards and risks in the neighborhood?

• What is your child's ability to respond to illness, fire, weather, or other types of emergencies?

• Does your child have a mental, physical, or medical disability?

• How many children are being left unsupervised?

• Do they know where you are?

• Can they contact you or other responsible adults?

• How long and how often is the child (or children) left alone?

Many states do not have laws that create a minimum age at which children may be left home without the supervision of a teenager or adult. The states that do have a minimum legal age to be home alone usually place it in the 10-14 years range—and many states provide that children age 0-6 may never be left home alone. Child Protective Services may investigate an incident or situation and determine that there was neglectful supervision of a child or children, and in some cases seek to remove the child or children from the custody of the parent or parents.

In Texas, there is no specific law that states a minimum age at which a child can be left alone at home. However, the Texas Family Code does provide guidance on what constitutes child neglect, including 'neglectful supervision,' which is defined as placing a child in or failing to remove a child from a situation that a reasonable person would realize requires judgment or actions beyond the child's level of maturity, physical condition, or mental abilities and that results in bodily injury or a substantial risk of immediate harm to the child. When determining whether supervision is adequate, factors such as the child's age, maturity, abilities, and the safety of the surroundings are considered. Child Protective Services (CPS) may investigate if there are concerns about a child's supervision and can take action, including removing the child from the home, if they determine that the child has been neglected. Parents and caregivers should assess all relevant factors, including those listed above, to ensure that children are not left in situations that could be deemed neglectful.

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