What age can i leave my child home alone?
There are no actual laws on leaving children home alone or what age is acceptable to leave a child on their own.
However, under the Children and Young Persons (England and Wales) Act 1933, the Children and Young Persons (Northern Ireland) Act 1968 and the Children and Young Persons (Scotland) Act 1937 there are guidelines.
Under the Children and Young Persons (England and Wales) Act 1933, it states that a person over the age of 16 years who has responsibility of a child or young person cannot assault, ill-treat, neglect, abandon or expose a child in a manner likely to cause suffering or injury to health.
Parents, guardians and carers of children can be prosecuted for neglect. This could mean that you could be fined or even sent to prison if you are found to have placed a child in harms way by leaving them at home alone in the United Kingdom.
As a parent you will need to assess if there are any risks before you do so.
It is natural for a parent to want to give a child more responsibility as they grow and this forms part of that process.
Every child is different. It can be very difficult to know or decide when the time is right to make a decision to leave your child. It very much depends on your own child’s maturity, how long you intend to pop out and whether your child feels comfortable with it too.
- Very young children, babies and toddlers shouldn’t NEVER be left alone
- Children between the age of 12 and 16 can be left alone for short periods of time but only if you feel they are mature enough
- Children under the age of 16 should never be left alone overnight
You need to be confident that your child will know how to handle certain situations:
- What if a stranger knocks on the door?
- What if there is a power cut?
- What if they get hungry, is there something for them to eat? Are they/you confident with them in the kitchen in your absence?
- What if you get held up or delayed for a longer period of time than expected?
- What if a fire broke out?
You would need to talk them through different scenarios so that both of you feel confident about it.
You will need to set some rules/boundaries whilst you are out of the house:
- How will they spend their time? TV? Ipad?
- Who knows they are home alone? Can you trust that this information will not be shared on any form of social media?
- What if they want to invite friends to pop over? How many? Only boys or girls etc?
There is a lot to think about but using common sense and knowing your own child will help you decide how best to move forward on this.