New ‘Babysitting Bill’ passes in Illinois House, moves to Senate

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The Illinois state House passed a measure that would allow kids 12 and older to babysit younger kids at home alone on Wednesday.

The “Babysitting Bill,” HB 2334, would protect parents of young teenagers from being charged with child neglect or abandonment. Sponsored by Rep. Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford), would amend the Juvenile Court Act of 1987, adjusting the age children can be left home alone without adult supervision.

Nationwide, current state laws that define a certain age when children may be left home alone range from age 6 in Kansas to age 14 in Illinois. 

Currently, a child under the age of 14 who is left without supervision is considered “neglected.” The bill would lower the age to 12.

Sherry McCullough is a local parent who said, “I think children should at least be 14 because at that time they are starting to come into themselves and become more mature and they tend to do somewhat of the right thing.”

Tom Talbott disagrees.  “I don’t think it should be legistlated. I think it’s up to the parents. My grandson is 11 and he goes home by himself all the time. That’s in Wyoming though. Big cities are a different story. So it’s kind of a mixed bag.”

Republican Representative Joe Sosnowski from Rockford is sponsoring the bill. 

Illinois has by far the most restrictive law of its kind in the nation. Our bill makes a common-sense adjustment to state law to recognize that working parents who struggle to afford child care should not live under the fear of losing their kids simply for working hard to support their family.

45 states have statutes on this subject. Only 14 specify a certain age, with the most common age being 10.

“I honestly feel that we shouldn’t legislate such things unless there’s an issue,” said Tom Talbott.

“Most parents know if their children are mature enough to know if they can be left at home,” said Sherry McCullough. “So I would say it would be the decision of the parent, but they need to make sure that the child they’re leaving at home alone is mature enough to handle that.”

The bipartisan legislation passed on 111-1 votes in the House and has already had it’s first reading in the Senate. 

To read more on the Juvenile Court Act of 1987, CLICK HERE.

Below is the synoposis as introduced to the assembly: 

Amends the Juvenile Court Act of 1987. Provides that a neglected minor includes any minor under the age of 12 (rather than 14) years whose parent or other person responsible for the minor’s welfare leaves the minor without supervision for an unreasonable period of time without regard for the mental or physical health, safety, or welfare of that minor. Provides that neglect does not include permitting a child, whose basic needs are met and who is of sufficient age and maturity to avoid harm or unreasonable risk of harm, to engage in independent activities, including: (1) traveling to and from school, including by walking, running, or bicycling; (2) traveling to and from nearby commercial or recreational activities; (3) engaging in outdoor play; (4) remaining in a vehicle unattended, except as otherwise provided by law; (5) remaining at home unattended; or (6) engaging in a similar independent activity. Amends the Criminal Code of 2012. Provides that a person commits child abandonment when he or she, as a parent, guardian, or other person having physical custody or control of a child, without regard for the mental or physical health, safety, or welfare of that child, knowingly leaves that child who is under the age of 12 (rather than 13) without supervision by a responsible person over the age of 14 for a period of 24 hours or more.

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