“I have four children aged 21, 18, 11 and five. I was happy to leave my eldest at home for up to 30 minutes at the age of about 11, but my 18-year-old son has mild dyslexia and Asperger`s and he was closer to 14 before I felt comfortable leaving him. I would comfortably leave my 11-year-old at home for half an hour if he stayed upstairs, but as a parent, you should know your child well enough to make this decision. Sharon Wilkinson “Every child is different. I think leaving an 11- or 12-year-old at home for up to an hour would be nice, but not if there are younger siblings at home, and obviously some kids wouldn`t be well at that age. It is at the discretion of the parents because we know our children better. Lynda Whitehead “My 14-year-old son was fine if he was left for an hour from about 10 years old. He is very capable and mature, but he was only happy to be abandoned during the day: from dusk until about a year ago, he did not want to leave. My seven-year-old son would be perfectly happy if left alone, but I wouldn`t be happy: he`s very confident and I`m afraid he`s trying to cook pizza on his own! But I leave him with his older brother and they are quite happy. Emma Bennett NSPCC has a useful tool to help you decide when it is safe for your child to be home alone and how to find alternatives when they are not ready. As our children grow up, we all need to make decisions about how independent we give them. One of them is deciding when it is safe and appropriate to leave them alone at home. “Leaving your child home alone can be a difficult decision because children mature at different rates,” says Helen Westerman, NSPCC Service Manager for Local Campaigns.
“There is no one-size-fits-all answer.” Helen offered advice on how parents can make the right decision to leave their children unattended at home: Parents who leave their child alone at home in an environment that puts them at risk can be charged against them. The decision to leave your child with a teenage babysitter — or let them babysit others based on their age — is a personal decision. There are no legal restrictions, but babysitters under 16 are too young to be held legally liable if something happens to your child, and you could face criminal prosecution for negligence. If you`re considering hiring a teenage babysitter or letting your teen babysit, make sure they know what to do in an emergency and are mature enough to deal with it when it happens. If possible, let a neighbor or friend know you`ll be on the road and ask them to be on call if the babysitter needs help and you can`t get home quickly. “A child who is not feeling well should not be left alone,” says Helen Westerman, local campaigns manager for the NSPCC, pointing out that since every child matures differently, it would be impossible to have a uniform law. Since there are no laws that dictate the age at which children can be left home alone, it is up to you as a parent to decide when your child is ready to be abandoned. Age is less important than maturity: for example, a reasonable 12-year-old may be more mature and responsible than a somewhat stubborn 14-year-old.
You may want to consider things like: There is no law that says how long a child can be left home alone, but it is a criminal offense if they are at risk. For example, a parent who leaves a 12-year-old home alone for a quick trip to local stores would not commit a crime, but leaving a 14-year-old home alone for a week would be a crime. She also advised children under the age of 16 not to be left alone overnight. Parents should consider children who have additional needs and, if possible, be supervised by an older sibling. Although the law does not set an age at which children can be left alone, it is illegal to leave a child or children alone if doing so puts them at risk of harm. Parents and caregivers are encouraged to decide, according to their own discretion and common sense, what is important part of each child`s growth. Children under the age of 12 are rarely mature enough to deal with an emergency and should not be left home alone for long. There is no specific age at which a child can be left home alone, as maturity and understanding vary from child to child. Being left alone is an opportunity for your child to experiment with things like alcohol or drugs (as unlikely as it sounds), so make sure they understand the consequences of their actions and how to deal with an emergency. Information on the different types of childcare services can be found at: The above is only a guide – there is no fixed age for children left alone at home. Many parents of older children or half-siblings often feel more comfortable leaving their children together, the NSPCC says, especially if a sibling is older. If your child is going out alone, make sure you know where they want to go and what they want to do, who they will be with, and how far they will travel.
“It helps you make the right decision,” says Westerman. Babies and toddlers should not be left alone at home, even for a few minutes. “Consider if there is anything that could hurt them and how you could reduce that risk,” Westerman advises. Like leaving a child alone, there is no legal age at which a child can keep children. But regardless of the child`s age, parents are encouraged to consider whether or not their children are ready to be independent – this could include not only whether they are old enough, but also whether they have enough knowledge to deal with potential risks while asking how they feel about being alone. The law states that parents should not leave little ones alone at home or in the car if they are likely to be exposed to risks, but this also does not indicate an age. If you leave children alone, even with a friend, under the age of 16 and something happens, you could be held responsible for both children, not just yours. At the age of 16, the guide says that they can be left alone during the night, but before that, it is not recommended. NSPCC has partnered with Blakemore Retail for the NSPCC Home or Out Alone campaign, which offers a quiz to help parents make the right decision, leave their children safely at home, or leave the home unattended. Paul Mosley, Philpott`s child killer, sent back to prison Much of the advice relies on parents listening to their child`s needs and feelings. There is no legal age to leave a child alone at home.
But it`s illegal to leave your children home alone if it puts them at risk. If you intend to leave your child alone at home, you should: Under the Children and Young Persons Act 1993, a parent who leaves a child unattended “in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering or damage to health” can be prosecuted for negligence.