BETHESDA, Md. - A 6-year-old's mishap with a toaster oven led to her 38-year- old mother being charged with leaving the child unattended.
Montgomery County Police say the Bethesda girl was home alone for up to an hour and a half while her mom, Wafa Abudib, went to a kick boxing class and grocery shopping.
Police and firefighters were called to Bethesda's Avalon at Rock Spring apartment complex on Rock Forest Drive about 7 p.m. Wednesday after the girl burned toast. The toast created so much smoke the girl left her apartment.
A neighbor who found the child called 911. Police took the girl to a nearby police station before returning her to her mother.
If convicted of leaving her child unattended, Abudib could be fined $500 or sentenced to 30 days in jail.
Maryland law requires that children younger than 8 not be left unsupervised, while Virginia and the District have no specific age limits.
"Parents need to use their own good judgment," says Mindi Good of D.C. Child and Family Services.
She says that while it's not explicitly illegal, leaving kids under the age of 8 unattended is "probably not a good idea."
In Virginia, Fairfax County does offer guidelines, which state that children under 7 should never be left alone.
Amy Carlini of the Fairfax County Department of Family Services says older kids should only be left alone if a safety plan is set out in advance. She says children should be given the contact information of responsible adults who will be available at any time. They should also have instructions for what to do in case of an emergency, and should know how to dial 9-1-1.
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