Rhode Island BillRhode Island is debating a bill that would legislate the age a child can be left alone at home or in a car.

[Rhode Island] lawmakers are debating a bill that would punish parents for leaving a child younger than 7 alone in a car. They’ve also proposed legislation to ban kids under 10 from being home alone and older kids from being home alone at night. Legislation could even extend to private preschools, where a bill would ban outdoor recess when the temperature drops below freezing.

While receiving support, the bill is also being critcized by some parents. “You can’t legislate parenting, and you can’t legislate common sense,” said Rema Tomka, who is raising three kids in the leafy Providence suburb of Smithfield. “I’m in one of those neighborhoods where the children run free. They all know their boundaries, and we keep an eye on them.”

“Basically we are punishing people who don’t have the resources to be helicopter parents, as if helicopter parenting is essential – which it’s not,” said New York author and columnist Lenore Skenazy, who runs a popular blog called “Free-Range Kids.”

What do you think? How old should a child be to be left alone at home for 20 minutes? 2 hours? all day?

photo credit: AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana