Campaign urges parents to think before leaving children home alone or unsupervised during summer holidays
Date published: 27 July 2022
NSPCC has urged parents to think carefully before leaving their children unsupervised (stock image)
Parents and carers are being urged to think carefully about leaving children home alone or unsupervised as the summer holidays start.
Each year the NSPCC receives the highest number of contacts from adults about this issue during the warmer months, seeing peaks when children break up for the summer holidays and are outside the home for extended periods. The NSPCC is preparing for another spike this summer.
There's no legal age a child can be left home alone as every child matures differently, but it’s against the law to leave a child alone if it puts them at risk. A child who doesn’t feel comfortable shouldn’t be left alone.
Parents trying to work and manage the 6-week school break can be challenging, particularly in light of soaring child costs in recent years.
Between work, appointments and other family commitments, every parent will have to leave their child home alone at some point.
As children get older, it’s common for them to want more freedom and learn to be independent. This is an important part of growing up, but there can be a lot to think about for parents.
The NSPCC and SPAR store operator Blakemore Retail have teamed up to help parents decide if their children are ready to stay home or go out alone.
- Are they ready to be left home alone? Think about if your child can deal with risks, will they behave responsibly, will they be safe. And perhaps most importantly, how does your child feel about this idea?
- If your child is going out alone make sure you know where they want to go, what they want to do, who they will be with and how far will they travel. This will help you to make the right decision.
- Will they be safe and sound? If they are staying at home, make sure they have a parent or carer’s number, another trusted adult’s number and have a trusted adult in mind that they could go to in person, in an emergency. If they are going out alone make sure they know their full name, address, and have two trusted adults’ phone numbers.
- 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
- Talk to your child early on about scenarios they might face and how to stay safe. Ask them what they’d do and how they feel about them.
- Set clear boundaries to help you and your child know how they should behave when you’re not around. It’s a good idea to agree on some house or outside rules that suit their maturity before you leave them alone. Give your child a chance to build their independence by building your trust.
Kam Thandi, NSPCC National Services Director said: “As the school summer holidays begin, we want to encourage parents and carers to think carefully about leaving children home alone or unsupervised, and also remind members of the public to look out for the children in their communities.
“During the pandemic we saw an increase in the contacts we received about this issue, as many people were at home and more aware of what the people around them were doing.
“The summer months can present a particularly challenging time for parents and carers when it comes to making the decision about whether to let their children stay home alone or go out unsupervised. We launched our Home or Out Alone campaign with Blakemore Retail to help them navigate these decisions that we know can be tricky.”
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