Now that most schools have broken up for the summer holiday children are at home. NSPCC last summer received 453 calls and emails about young children being left at home alone and unattended by an adult. 366 of those calls and emails received were serious enough to be passed on to the police and social services to deal with.
However the law in England and Wales does not currently have a specific age requirement to which a child can be left at home unattended by an adult. Instead the law in such area is that a child must not be abandoned or suffer neglect as parents can be prosecuted if they leave a child alone who is at risk of suffering harm or significant harm. By leaving the child at home alone there is the greater risk of any type of harm or personal injury being caused to the child.
NSPCC have listed some example advice and they are; no baby or very young child should ever be left alone at home and instead must be under the care and supervision by an adult at all times. If a child has additional needs, these should be considered when leaving them at home alone or with an older sibling. Children under the age of 16 should also not be left alone overnight because they are still at a young age and may find it difficult to deal with difficult situations when left alone.
Peter Wanless, CEO of the NSPCC said: “summer holidays can be a fun time for children but it’s also when they are more likely to be left home alone as parents face increasing childcare pressures.” He goes on further to say: “it could put them at greater risk of accident or injury. So I would urge parents to use their common sense when deciding if their child could cope.” A parent knows their children best and can use their own judgement to decide whether they are mature enough and it would be suitable to do so.