Although the Summer Holidays are only just over, the October half term will soon be upon us. With the pressures of modern life, many parents wonder whether they can leave their children at home alone and whether there is a specific age at which they are legally allowed to do so.
In law, there is no specific age at which you can leave a child at home alone. All children are different and one who is aged 10 might be more mature than one who is aged 14. What parents and guardians need to be aware of when deciding whether or not to leave a child at home alone is that there can be legal consequences if the child is put at risk.
The applicable law is the Children and Young Persons Act 1993. This states that if a child is left unsupervised “in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering or injury to health”, then the parent can be prosecuted for neglect.
Advice from the NSPCC is that children under the age of 12 are not usually mature enough to be left at home alone and children under 16 should not be left alone overnight.
When deciding whether or not to leave your child alone, think about whether there are any obvious risks, whether they would know what to do in an emergency and whether they would know who to contact. Speak to your child about how they would feel about being left alone and use your own judgement when thinking about their maturity and understanding.
Should you choose to use a babysitter then again, there is no legal age at which a person needs to be before they can babysit. Ideally, they should be a responsible person who is at least 16. Even when a child is left with a babysitter the parent is still classed as being responsible for the care of their child and if the child was to come to any harm the parent can still be prosecuted.
If you need any advice about issues concerning your children or any other family law issues, then please do not hesitate to contact a member of our friendly team at LDJ Solicitors on 0800 542 5800 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.