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Home Alone

There are no laws around what age a child can be left home alone. You are legally responsible for their care and can be prosecuted or fined if you are seen to be placing them at risk.

The NSPCC do not recommend a child under 12 years old being left alone as they are not mature enough to cope with emergencies and could come to harm.

Your child is not ready to be left alone even for short periods no matter what their age if:
• They do not understand instructions and cannot do as they are told
• If they cannot use the phone to call for help if needed
• If they are scared about being left
• If they cannot get themselves food and drink safely
• If they cannot cope with an emergency or know who to call.

Things You Can Do to Help

If you feel your child is mature enough to be left alone for short periods you need to make sure they are safe:

  • Ask them first. They may like to feel grown up but some might feel scared and not want to stay home alone
  • Have rules clear on what they can and cannot do
  • Make sure they do not have access to any medication, sharp objects such as knives, chemicals, alcohol and drugs and lock them away safely
  • Tell your child when you will be home. If you are going to be late let them know so that they do not worry
  • Make sure they know who to contact in an emergency
  • Tell them not to post details about being home alone on social media
  • If your older child is looking after a younger child please make sure they are responsible enough to do so.

 

Who Can Help?


You can also contact a member of the 0-19 Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.

 

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