Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

When Is It OK to Leave Your Kids Home Alone?

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

When Is It OK to Leave Your Kids Home Alone?

Article excerpt

Byline: Sarah Dale Reporter sarah.dale@trinitymirror.com

HOW old would your kids have to be before you left them at home on their own? It is against the law to leave your kids at home alone "if it puts them at risk" but the law does not give a minimum age.

So when's the right time? Babies and very young children would fit into the "puts them at risk" criteria, but it gets cloudy once they're a bit older.

To help and with the summer holidays upon us, the children's charity NSPCC has issued guidelines to help parents and carers.

It follows the charity's announcement that the NSPCC's helpline received 453 calls and emails between July and September last year from adults concerned about youngsters being left unattended.

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

Throughout last year the helpline received 1,729 calls and emails from adults concerned about children being left to fend for themselves - with more than half of those referred to police or social services under 10.

The NSPCC's ChildLine service also delivered 273 counselling sessions to children and young people last year who were worried about being left home alone.

Peter Wanless, CEO of the NSPCC, said: "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.

This could explain why we see a spike in calls to our helpline during these months.

"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.

"So 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. …

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