With the pressure of childcare during the summer holidays, leaving kids home alone may be an option parents turn to during the break from school.
The NSPCC revealed their helpline receives an increase in calls during July and September with concerns from adults about kids being left unattended.
In 2015, three quarters of the 453 calls they received were so serious, they were passed on to police or social services.
So what is the legal age kids can be left home alone?
There isn’t one.
The law doesn’t state an age when you can leave a child on their own, but it’s an offence to leave a child alone if it places them at risk.
“Use your judgement on how mature your child is before you decide to leave them alone, eg at home or in a car,” the government website states.
“Parents can be prosecuted if they leave a child unsupervised ‘in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering or injury to health’.”
Under the Children and Young Persons (England and Wales) Act 1933, the Children and Young Persons (Scotland) Act 1937 and the Children and Young Persons (Northern Ireland) Act 1968, parents and carers can be prosecuted for neglect.
This means that they can be fined or sent to prison if they are judged to have placed a child at risk of harm by leaving them at home alone, regardless of where in the UK the child lives, according to the NSPCC.
- 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?
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