It looks like its illegal in Tx depending on the child's age and how long you leave them. Does that mean I can leave an infant for 4 minutes?
Child alone - Frequently asked Question
How old must a child be to be left home alone?
Answer: Supervision of children is basic to the prevention of harm. Adequate supervision means an adult caregiver is accountable for the child's care. Although, there is no Texas law that defines a specific age at which a child may be left home alone, there are several factors that should be taken into consideration when deciding how closely to supervise a child, including:
- the age, emotional maturity and capability of the child;
- layout and safety of the home, play area, or other setting;
- neighborhood circumstances, hazards, and risks;
- the child's ability to respond to illness, fire, weather, or other types of emergencies; and
- whether the child has a mental, physical, or medical disability.
The number of children left unsupervised, the accessibility to other responsible adults, the length of time or frequency with which the child is left alone, and the child's knowledge of the parent's whereabouts are additional relevant factors.
Can I use these same factors when deciding whether to leave a child in my vehicle for a short period of time?
Answer: No. We do not recommend leaving a child in a motor vehicle for any length of time. If children are trapped inside cars, especially during seriously hot weather, it can result in heat exhaustion or heat stroke, leading to permanent disability or death in a matter of minutes. Heat stroke, also known as hyperthermia, can cause shock, seizures, irregular heartbeat, heart attack, and damage to the brain, liver, and kidneys.
Leaving a child in a vehicle is punishable under the Texas Penal Code, Title 5, Chapter 22, Section 10 LEAVING A CHILD IN A VEHICLE. A person commits an offense if he intentionally or knowingly leaves a child in a motor vehicle for longer than five minutes, knowing that the child is:
who is 14 years of age or older. An offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor. If the child is injured, the charge is then elevated to child endangerment, which is a felony. The penalties are six months to two years in jail and a fine up to $10,000.
Leaving a child unattended in a car is also a form of neglectful supervision.
What is neglectful supervision?
Answer: Adults who are attentive and aware of children's behaviors are in the best position to safeguard their well-being. When children are not adequately supervised, it may be considered “neglectful supervision”, which means: 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 substantial risk of immediate harm to the child.
Neglectful supervision is also defined as: Placing a child in or failing to remove the child from a situation in which the child would be exposed to a substantial risk of sexual conduct harmful to the child.
Out of 50,529 confirmed child abuse/neglect victims in Texas for 2004, 28,370 were due to neglectful supervision. If you suspect a child has been abused or neglected, or if you have any questions about whether the concern you have constitutes abuse or neglect, please call the DFPS Abuse/Neglect Hotline at 1-800-252-5400.
For emergency situations, call your local law enforcement or 911 immediately.