OK Lawmakers Consider Outlawing Young Children Being Left Home Alone

Tuesday, April 30th 2013, 10:04 pm
By: News 9

Oklahoma lawmakers are considering the possibility of new child safety legislation after a 7-year-old Oklahoma City boy died in a house fire while being left home alone.

4/29/2013 Related Story: OKC Community Mourning Death Of 7-Year-Old Boy In House Fire

Oklahoma City Police say young Adrian "Ruberto" Avalos was left home alone early Monday when someone broke into his home and set a fire while his mother was away.

"They just went out to party and just left their kids [alone] … this is the worst case scenario that could ever happen," Sen. Kyle Loveless of Oklahoma City said.

Currently, leaving children of any age home alone is not illegal in Oklahoma, but legislators are looking to change that. Some lawmakers admit they did not know it's not illegal to leave young children home alone.

On Monday, News 9 reached out to every state lawmaker in Oklahoma to get their thoughts. Twelve responded. Nearly all saying it's time for a change.

"When it comes to the well-being of young children, maybe it's time we do step in," Rep. Justin Wood of Shawnee said.

Wood says he will consider new legislation but does not want to cross a fine line between infringing on parental rights versus child safety. Loveless agrees.

"You just can't leave your children by themselves," Loveless said. "That's just a common standard of decency."

Although the push for change is underway, there is some opposition. Rep. Mike Reynolds of Oklahoma City says the state shouldn't tell parents what to do. So far, in this case, it appears Reynolds is part of the minority.

Other states already outlaw children under 12 years of age being left home alone. Twelve is the age limit many Oklahoma lawmakers say seems the most reasonable. It is also the standard age Oklahoma's Department of Human Services recommends to parents, depending on mental conditions and maturity level.

While it is not illegal to leave children home alone in Oklahoma, it is illegal to leave them alone in a vehicle.