Since You Asked

I was wondering about the age of your child staying at home alone. There have been times I go to the store and my 11-year-old wants to stay home, or a cross time of a few hours between my and my husband's work schedule. What is the legal age I can let my son do this?

— Angie M., Medford

Technically, Angie, Oregon law states that your 11-year-old may be left alone at your home as long as he or she is not in charge of a younger child.

Oregon lawmakers have determined that "any child under 10 cannot be left unattended in a place where he or she can be endangered.''

Currently, there is a case heading toward Jackson County Circuit Court in which a father and mother face two counts of first-degree criminal mischief, a felony, and two counts of misdemeanor child neglect because they dropped off their young boys at the Bear Creek skate park in November 2006 and left them unattended.

Daniel R. Willis, 44, and June A. Willis, 49, who live in southwest Medford, have pleaded not guilty to these charges. The 6-year-old suffered injuries while skating at the park while reportedly under the watch of his 9-year-old brother.

In addition, the city of Medford carries an ordinance stating that a child under 10 cannot be left alone in a vehicle on any street, alley or parking structure unless they are supervised by someone age 14 or over.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them, but we'll try.

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