Warning issued not to leave children home alone
As the school holidays begin parents are being warned not to leave their children at home on their own.
Last August the NSPCC’s Helpline made referrals involving 849 children to police and social services due to concerns about them being left unsupervised by their parent or carer. A third of these were aged five and under.
Throughout 2017/18 there were 7,277 children referred to authorities due to concerns about them being left to fend for themselves, with the problem being most acute in August during the long school holidays.
The charity warns that although a child may seem responsible enough to be left alone without supervision, mums and dads should think carefully whether they would be able to cope with unexpected situations such as an emergency, a stranger calling at the house, being hungry or if the parent is away for longer than anticipated.
NSPCC Head of Safeguarding in Communities, Chris Cloke, said: “It can be difficult for parents and carers to decide whether their child is ready to be left on their own and we know that the summer holidays can be a tricky time as people face increasing childcare pressures.
“However, it is still very concerning that we are consistently seeing a spike in August of referrals to social services and the police due to worries about children being left unsupervised. No child should be left on their own if there is any risk they will come to harm.”
The NSPCC has issued the following guidance:
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 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 it, regardless of their age.
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?
NSPCC’s helpline is available 24/7 on 0808 800 5000.