What Does The Law Say About Leaving Kids Home Alone During Summer Holidays?
By Law, are
parents allowed to leave kids home alone during the holidays?
The six week summer holiday has rolled around for our
children once again. For many families this is a carefree joyous period, no
different than any other part of the year. Whilst for others, this time will be
difficult to manage. Juggling work responsibilities and child care may prove
costly, adding to the everyday pressures of parenting.
How long is it acceptable to leave children unattended, say
at home on a Saturday night, or in the car parked up outside a supermarket
whilst you do a quick shop?
When is it appropriate to leave children unattended, and under what circumstances are permitted by UK law?
The England and Wales Law is broad regarding the topic. The
Children and Young Persons Act 1993, simply states that ‘children must not be
neglected or abandoned in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering or
injury to health.’
NSPCC stats show that calls regarding children being left
alone at home increases during the summer holidays. NSPCC stats estimate that during the summer
holidays, half of the calls they receive are referred to the police or social
services due to severity of concerns. These calls were all in relation to
children under the age of 10.
Currently, the law doesn’t give a minimum age for leaving
children at home for any length of time, but it is against the law if it puts a
child at danger or risk. Parents and carers can be prosecuted for neglect if it
is shown that they knowingly placed a child at risk.
NSPCC advises that young babies and toddlers should never be left alone.
Children under 12 are not mature enough to cope in an
emergency, and therefore shouldn’t be left home alone for long periods of time.
Teenagers shouldn’t be left alone overnight.
The law and the guidelines are confusing. The law does not
give a minimum age for leaving children home alone, but leaves it to the
discretion of the parents. The law only Intervenes when a child’s safety or
wellbeing has suffered.
Only you know your children’s habits and behaviours. Each
child develops differently; they all mature at different ages and paces.
Leaving your child for long periods of time could seriously harm their sense of
self, and put them at potential risk. When thinking about leaving your kids for
a spell, use your common sense; how will they cope if something unlikely happened,
and what are the potential dangers?
In today’s world, in the majority of couples both parents
have to work in order to sustain family life. Many families rely upon childcare
strategies over the six weeks holidays to ensure the wellbeing of their
children, whilst some chose to take unpaid parental leave. Others arrange their
shift patterns, alternating time at home with time at work, or take annual
leave consecutively to match the summer holidays.
The cheapest and most reliable option to keep children out of trouble is to rely upon extended family and friends. Those in your close circle; grandparents, aunties, cousins are all common babysitters. Drawing upon help from your loved ones is a great, cost effective option for supportive child care.
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