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No law in Ohio requires kids to be a certain age to stay home unsupervised

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Posted at 10:26 PM, Jul 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-02 23:20:10-04

CANTON, Ohio — It's every parents worst nightmare and it happened to an unsuspecting family in Canton last month.

Authorities say a 10-year-old girl was home alone while her mom went to work and someone broke in the house.

The suspect, Christapher Strickland, allegedly climbed in through a window, grabbed the kid by her arm and forced her into the basement with him.

Luckily, the neighbor saw the break-in happen and rushed in to help.

"Whenever she hears the neighbor come in she’s able to break free, she runs upstairs and essentially the neighbor then holds the suspect at gunpoint, at bay in the basement until our officers arrived," said Lieutenant Dennis Garren of the Canton Police Department.

Strickland was arrested and charged with burglary and abduction.

But should that young girl have been home alone at all?

Experts say there is no law in Ohio that requires kids to be a certain age before self supervising at home.

"Just because a child is chronologically an age, doesn't mean they're developmentally at that age," said Joseph French, CFO at Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health in Canton.

French says he does not think there needs to be a law to regulate an age for kids to stay at home solo, but parents need to use their best judgement.

"I think that we have to train children what is expected of them, how mature are they, what are the expectations while they're home alone?" said French.

He adds there should always an adult just a phone call away and emergency plans should be put in place.

"Let's say the house starts to catch on fire, what do I do?" French said. "Teach them those important concepts in case something does happen."

There are only three states with laws that regulate how old a kid has to be to stay home alone.

In Maryland you must be at least eight years old, Oregon the age is 10 and in Illinois its 14.