The school summer holidays are well under way and it can be a difficult time of the year especially for those working full-time. However, should your children be left alone?
The NSPCC gave out information last summer after receiving more than 450 calls to ChildLine (a free 24-hour counselling service for children and young people) between July and September 2015, with three quarters going on to be reported to social services or police.
Around 1,700 calls and emails have been received through just this year by adults concerned about children being left alone. Nearly 300 counselling sessions have been set up for young people who have been worried about having to fend for themselves.
Unfortunately, the law isn’t very helpful in this case as it doesn’t directly state an age at which a child is allowed to be left unattended. Although it does state that it is illegal to leave a child at home unsupervised if they are being put in risk in any way.
Our sister title, the Birmingham Mail has compiled together recommendations from the NSPCC.
The new NSPCC guidelines:
- Babies, toddlers and very young children should never be left alone
- Children under the age of 12 are rarely mature enough to cope in an emergency and should not be left at home alone for a long period of time
- Children under the age of 16 should not be left alone overnight
- Parents and carers can be prosecuted for neglect if it is judged that they placed a child at risk by leaving them at home alone
- A child should never be left at home alone if they do not feel comfortable with this, regardless of their age
- If a child has additional needs, these should be considered when leaving them at home alone or with an older sibling
When leaving a younger child with an older sibling think about what may happen if they were to have a falling out - would they both be safe?