How young is too young to be left home alone?

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News 12 at 11 /Monday, July 7, 2014

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- During the summer it's not unusual to see big group teens out at night, but how young is too young?

News 12 is On Your Side with what the law says and doesn't say about mom and dad's responsibility.

When school lets out for the summer kids have a lot more time to find trouble.

"Throwing eggs from the top of the roof, water fights, messing up the house while the parents where away. So, we got into a good bit of trouble while our parents were away," said Tanisia Davenport as she recalled her summer vacation.

Davenport is now a mother of three. She admits it's easier keeping her 5-year-old busy during the summer than teenagers

"As they got older and they were able to venture out on their own. They basically just like to go to the movies or mall," she told News 12.

It's not illegal in either Georgia or South Carolina for parents to leave their teens unsupervised even in public places, like the shopping center where a 14-year-old was shot over the weekend by another teenager. Deputies and lawyers we talked to say the parents of the 17-year-old alleged shooter can't be charged criminally for his actions, but could foot the bill for damages to any businesses or even some medical treatments.

The suspect is 17. The one shot is 14. Both old enough to be left unsupervised. So, when is a kid too young to be left alone?

"I would guess at least 12 or 13," Davenport told News 12, but that's not exactly right.

Georgia and South Carolina only suggest a child 8 or younger not be left alone. Yes, that's only a suggestion. Not the law. However, a parent could be charged with child neglect or cruelty depending on the case.

"That's ridiculous to me because I can't imagine a 5-year-old being left at home alone knowing exactly what to do and what not to do," Davenport said.

If you need low cost child care during the summer or after school hours, call the following:

Boys and Girls Clubs of CSRA 706-504-4071 or YMCA at 706-738-6680.

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