I'll admit it.  I used to fake being sick to get out of going to school.  I don't remember what age it was, but it was certainly in elementary school.  Single digit aged.

No one batted an eye. No one accused my parents of being horrible people and no one (especially my parents) worried I would burn the house down or leave with a stranger who happened to come to my house.

It was a different time for sure.

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Something Changed

At some point, the switch happened. Maybe it was because Gen Xers thought about how we were raised a little TOO "free-ranged" and once we had kids we didn't want to extend the same length (or non-existent) leash to our own children.

No doubt, our parents never asked "When is it ok to leave our kids home alone?" They were of the generation who brought babies home in a cardboard box stored on the dashboard for the ride.

That's not an exaggeration. That's literally how I was brought home from the hospital.

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Maybe we know more or maybe we're more paranoid.

These days, according to AACAP.com, it is estimated that "over 40% of children are left home at some time, though rarely overnight." When we grew up that number was for sure close to 100%.

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When Is It Legal To Leave Kids Home Alone?

Before we get to Wisconsin let's look at our neighboring states.

  • Iowa: According to DesMoinesRegister.com, in Iowa, "there's no age in state law at which children are deemed responsible enough to be home alone. That means it's a judgment call each parent must make."

In Illinois, rules were a bit more strict, but that's recently changed.

  • Illinois: The STRICTEST age limit of 14 but in March of this year, "the Illinois House unanimously passed a bill to eliminate the nation's strictest standard for how old children must be to be left home alone"-IllinoisPolicy.org

In Wisconsin, the rules are pretty loose too.

  • Wisconsin: According to wiLawLibrary.gov, "Wisconsin does not have statutes or regulations that state the age at which a child may be left unsupervised, or left in charge of other children."

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