• California law makes supervision of children a parental duty. Children must be supervised at all times and may not be left alone at any age. Penal Code Section 11165 defines child as "a person under the age of 18 years."

    Legal Basis

    The California Child Abuse & Neglect Reporting Act requires parents and guardians to provide supervision for their children. Failure to provide supervision is considered "general neglect."

    Legal Penalty

    No legal penalty is specified for general neglect. Parents may be prosecuted for child abandonment, however, if a child is left alone for a long time. The parent may be fined up to $2,000, imprisoned for up to one year or both.

    Court Intervention

    If a parent or guardian fails to adequately supervise his child, the child may be removed from the home and made a ward of the court.

    Other Consequences

    Child neglect often results in substantial developmental problems for the child. Neglected children often have difficulty developing a strong sense of self and may have trouble interacting with others.

    Interesting Fact

    Child neglect is the most common form of child abuse. Its effects are not well-understood because it is difficult to prove neglect that is not severe.


    California Penal Code, Sections 11164-11174.3

    California Penal Code, Sections 270-273.75

    California Welfare & Institutions Code, Section 300-304.7

    • Anonymous says R.I.P Nelson
      By Kate Fogle on December 13th, 2009
  • By Answerbag Staff on December 13th, 2009
  • not sure but when i was a kid and my parents went out my 10 yr old brother would watch me and my twin sister who were 7 and my 4 yr old brother, we all managed to grow up okay

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