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How to decide if your middle schooler is old enough to stay home alone

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BURLINGTON, N.C. -- Burlington Police Officer J.C. Laws spends a lot of time walking the halls at Turrentine Middle School. He's pretty much an expert on just how different kids this age can be.

"Some are quite more mature than others," said Laws, who has worked at the school as a school resource officer for eight years. "It's a very transitional age."

So, when the school halls empty out for the summer and working parents have to decide what's next, whether their middle schooler can stay home alone, Laws says there is not a hard or fast rule or law about it. "Kids those ages are in the gray area. They're becoming more mature, but are also very curious about a lot of things and wanting to explore a lot of things, so parents need to be sure to put some boundaries in place, some guidelines about what they are allowed to do without supervision."

So, how do you know if your child is OK to stay home alone? Laws says parents should think about and consider this: Is your child able to make good decisions? Does your child follow the rules? Would your child be able to handle an emergency should one arise?

Turrentine Principal Brian Williams is also a parent. "The kids need something to keep their mind engaged or they'll be on their phones or computers all day. Finding something for them to do to keep them moving and engaged would be a huge plus over the summertime."