Mom's Arrest Underscores Ambiguity of Leaving Kids Alone

Children in this case were 8 and 9; mom left them for 45 minutes to pick up food
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 26, 2016 9:05 AM CDT

A Maryland mom who made a food run while vacationing in Rehoboth Beach, Del., probably wishes she had just microwaved some pizza bagels. Rehoboth Beach Police Lt. Jaime Riddle says 55-year-old Susan Terrillion was arrested Tuesday and charged with endangering the welfare of her 8-year-old and 9-year-old kids after she left them in their vacation rental while she went to pick up their dinner order at an eatery about 5 miles away, the News Journal reports. She was gone for at least 45 minutes, which was enough time for the kids to go outside and lose control of their dogs, who then apparently dashed in front of a man's car, Riddle says. That witness tells cops he helped the kids rein the animals in, then found out there was no adult around supervising them.

Woman's Day points out such a situation can often prove tricky from a legal standpoint: There's no federal law mandating a minimum age at which kids can be left alone, and state rules vary. In Delaware's case, there's no "appropriate age" to use as a gauge, but the "Division of Family Services will accept for investigation any report of a child under the age of 12 being left alone." Terrillion was arrested and released on $500 bail; the kids and dogs are said to be OK. In another case of child endangerment in Rehoboth Beach, per Delaware State News: A Canadian dad was arrested last week for allegedly letting his 13-year-old daughter lure a seagull into a hole with food, then hit it with a plastic shovel, killing it. (Pretty sure leaving a toddler alone to go play Pokemon would warrant an investigation in any state.)

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