Should you leave your child home alone during school hols?

Info from NSPCC:

With the school summer holidays fast approaching, parents often ask us about the appropriate age to allow children to stay home or out alone.

Every child is different so there’s no one rule for all, but between work, appointments and other family commitments, it’s inevitable that there will come a point when parents have to make decisions about when is the right time to leave their child home alone. As children get older, they’ll also want more freedom and independence, which brings new concerns for parents, too.

It’s a difficult decision for parents and carers to make, but the NSPCC’s new campaign ‘Home or Out Alone’ aims to provide families with advice and guidance to help parents make the right decision for their child. The new guide includes the following advice:

  • Things to think about before parents decide if their children are ready to be independent or not.
  • Advice for leaving children under another trusted adult’s supervision
  • Extra support to help parents make decisions

This, and a lot of other useful information, is available at But don’t forget the NSPCC Helpline is always available on 0808 8005000 to offer further support and help you make the right decision to help keep your child safe.

The campaign has also received support from Blakemore Retail, who have donated £50k to the cause and will also be displaying posters and flyers in their SPAR stores throughout the South West.

The info suggests:

  • A child who isn’t old enough or who doesn’t feel comfortable should never be left home alone.
  • Infants and young children aged 0-3 years old should never be left alone – even for 15 minutes while you pop down the road. This applies not just to leaving them home alone but also in your car while you run into the shops.
  • While every child is different, we wouldn’t recommend leaving a child under 12 years old home alone, particularly for longer periods of time.
  • Children in primary school aged 6-12 are usually too young to walk home from school alone, babysit or cook for themselves without adult supervision. If you need to leave them home, it’s worth considering leaving them at a friend’s house, with family or finding some suitable childcare.
  • As your child gets older, talk to them about how they feel about being left home alone.
  • If your child has an older sibling or step-sibling, you might feel more comfortable leaving them home together, especially if one child is older. There’s no legal age a child can babysit – but if you leave your children with someone who’s under 16, you’re still responsible for their wellbeing.

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