Home alone

A question that is often asked is 'how old should a child be before being left on their own at home'. Although this might appear to be a simple question the answer is not so straightforward.

The law does not define an age when a child can be left alone. However, it is an offence to leave a child alone if doing so puts them at risk.

The NSPCC have produced a useful guide for parents, which ask parents to consider the following before leaving a child alone:

•The age of the child.
•The child's level of maturity and understanding.
•The place where child will be left.
•How long the child will be left alone, and how often.
•Whether or not there are any other children in the household
The NSPCC guidance stresses:

Never leave a baby or very young child alone at home, whether asleep or awake, even for a few minutes. It doesn't take long for unsupervised young children or babies to injure themselves.
Most children under thirteen should not be left for more than a short period.
No child under sixteen should be left overnight.

For further advice please visit the NSPCC's website.

If you are concerned about a child who has been left alone at home please report your concerns to Children's Services or the police.