Why A Real Life “Home Alone” Would Send Illinois Parents To Jail
As someone old enough to remember seeing the movie Home Alone in the theater, I recall as we exited the theater overhearing a woman say to her husband "If you and I did something like that, and left a kid behind at home, we'd be going to jail!"
I remember thinking that she should lighten up a bit, because after all, it's just a movie. I never thought for a moment that she might be right.
And she was.
Mr. And Mrs. McAllister Clearly Violated Illinois Law When They Left Kevin Behind
Sure, it was all an accident. After all, the McAllisters were basically wrangling a classroom of kids for the family's trip to Paris, and mistakes can happen when you're overwhelmed as a parent. However, innocent mistake or not, they broke Illinois law.
As IllinoisPolicy.org points out:
Illinois State law considers it neglect or abuse when “any minor under the age of 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.”
I Don't Know About Your Family, But My Mom And Dad Broke That Law, Too
I hate to chuck my parents under the bus on this one, but it's true. In the Home Alone movie, Kevin McAllister is said to be 8 years old, so to be fair I'll admit that my parents didn't leave me alone at that age. They waited until I was 10 before doing it.
I was occasionally left overnight while they traveled, and I was left home alone for a few days at a time here and there when I reached the age of 12. Everything was fine during these infrequent trips, but it seems as though my folks were looking at trouble if it hadn't been.
Illinois' Law Is The Strictest In The Entire Country
IllinoisPolicy.org, in their piece on this topic, says that Illinois with an age limit of 14 years and under, has a higher age limit than anyone else in the United States:
The highest age for a child to be left alone in other states is 12, and 30 states don’t have any age restrictions on leaving kids at home. Illinois parents can temporarily lose custody simply on allegations. However, the law doesn’t define “an unreasonable period of time.” Is an hour unreasonable? Two hours? It’s completely up to the interpretation of government employees, opening up potential to abuse the rule.