NSPCC advice on leaving a child home alone:
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 shouldn’t be left at home alone for long periods.
Children under the age of 16 shouldn’t be left alone overnight.
Parents and carers can be prosecuted for neglect if it’s 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 don’t 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?
The NSPCC suggests parents should consider the following questions before deciding to leave a child unattended:
Does your child seem to be responsible and mature for their age and always do what you tell them?
Would they be able to make themselves something to eat and drink and would you be happy with them using the cooker or microwave?
Can you imagine how they’d cope in an emergency like a power cut or a flooded bathroom?
Would they know what to do if the phone rang or someone came to the door?
Would they know how to contact you or another family member or friend if they needed to? Do they have these contact numbers to hand?
How would they feel about being left alone – pleased to be given the responsibility or scared at the thought of it?