Hundreds Of Children Left Home Alone During Summer Holidays, NSPCC Reveals

'I would urge parents to use their common sense.'

20/07/2016 08:39

Parents should think carefully before leaving their children home alone during the summer holidays, the NSPCC has warned.

The national charity’s helpline received 453 calls and emails between July and September 2015 from adults concerned about children left unattended.

Of these calls, more than three quarters (366), were so serious they were passed to police or social services.

One woman who called the 24-hour helpline said: “I’m really worried about a young girl who’s been in the house by herself for a whole day now. Her mother visits her partner over the weekends.

“The child is always looking very sad and unkempt which upsets me. This has been going on for months but I felt as if I couldn’t say anything as I’m related to them and I didn’t want to compromise our relationship. But I just can’t keep quiet anymore.”

Robert Daly via Getty Images

The NSPCC’s ChildLine service delivered 273 counselling sessions to children and young people in 2015 who were worried about being left home alone.

“Summer holidays can be a fun time for children but it’s also when they are more likely to be left home alone as parents face increasing childcare pressures,” Peter Wanless, CEO of the NSPCC said.

“Leaving your child home alone can be a difficult decision as children mature at different ages – there is no ‘one size fits all’ answer.

“But it could put them at greater risk of accident or injury.

“I would urge parents to use their common sense when deciding if their child could cope.

“They should also ask them how they feel about being left alone and talk to them about what to do in an emergency. Parents are best placed to know what is right for their child so it vital there is flexibility for them to decide.”

Overall in 2015, there were 1,729 calls and emails to the NSPCC from adults concerned about children being left to fend for themselves.

The law does not give a minimum age for leaving children alone at home but it’s against the law if it puts them at risk.

“Use your judgement on how mature your child is before you decide to leave them alone, e.g. at home or in a car,” the government website states

Advice from the NSPCC on leaving a child alone at home:

* 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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