A good few years ago I remember reading a post about a mother who got a criminal record for leaving her six year old child at home alone for 45 minutes.
The varying opinions from parents about whether or not it’s acceptable to leave children home alone got me thinking about how I felt about it.
The first lady in the article openly admits that she leaves her children home alone. The first time she did so, her daughter was just three months old and she left her asleep in the pram in the garden whilst she popped out to do the weekly food shop. She even admits that she didn’t rush around the shop. She actually took her time. When she returned home she found her baby still fast asleep.
Thankfully all worked out well for her, but I was astonished to read that this lady continued to do the same thing with each of her children, leaving them alone and unattended whilst she ‘popped out’.
The thought makes me nervous. If I need to pop to the shops or pay for petrol, I always get the girls to come with me. You may think I’m mad to unbuckle their seat belts and walk them across as a petrol station forecourt, but I’d rather have them with me, than risk leaving them alone in the car. If anything happened, I’d never be able to forgive myself.
My husband and I have always been lucky in that we juggle childcare between ourselves. When I’m working my husband will do the school run and vice versa. During the holidays my husband will stay with our girls whilst I work, and again I will do the same when he works.
I realise that not everybody has this luxury, but in my opinion you should never leave children alone unattended.
After doing some research online I found out that there is no minimum age at which children in the UK can be left on their own, nor do laws specify how old someone needs to be to babysit. However, if the babysitter is under 16, then the parent remains legally responsible for the child’s safety (source).
In addition to this the law simply says that you shouldn’t leave a child alone if they’ll be at risk (source).
I’m absolutely amazed that no law exists when it comes to this! I’m not sure how old my girls will be when I first leave them on their own, but I’m pretty sure it won’t be for a very long time!
What do you think? How old are your children and would you, or have you, ever left them home alone?