Sunderland parents are being urged to not leave their children alone this summer.
The NSPCC’s released an online guide on what to consider when thinking of leaving your kids home alone.
Last year over 7 thousand children were referred to authorities after being left by themselves, with the problem being worst during the summer holidays.
Helen Westerman, NSPCC Campaigns Manager for the North of England.
Last August the charity’s Helpline made referrals involving 849 children to police and social services due to concerns about them being left unsupervised by their parent or carer.
A third of these were aged five and under.
The NSPCC has warned that although a child may seem responsible enough to be left alone without supervision, parents and carers should think carefully whether they would be able to cope with unexpected situations such as an emergency, a stranger calling at the house, being hungry or if the parent is away for longer than anticipated.
The charity is also encouraging parents to read its home alone guide which includes questions they should ask themselves and their children before deciding to leave a child unsupervised.
Helen Westerman, NSPCC Campaigns Manager for the North of England says it’s difficult to know what best, as there’s no legal age limit of when a child can be left to defend for themselves.
NSPCC Head of Safeguarding in Communities, Chris Cloke, said:
“It can be difficult for parents and carers to decide whether their child is ready to be left on their own and we know that the summer holidays can be a tricky time as people face increasing childcare pressures.”
“However, it is still very concerning that we are consistently seeing a spike in August of referrals to social services and the police due to worries about children being left unsupervised. No child should be left on their own if there is any risk they will come to harm.”
To help parents and carers who may be considering whether or not to leave their child on their own for the first time this summer, the NSPCC is issuing guidance on leaving children home alone on its website.
Key points include:
- Babies, toddlers and very young children should never be left alone.
- Children under the age of 12 are rarely mature enough to cope in an emergency and should not be left at home alone for a long period of time.
- Children under the age of 16 should not be left alone overnight.
- Parents and carers can be prosecuted for neglect if it is judged that they placed a child at risk by leaving them at home alone.
- A child should never be left at home alone if they do not feel comfortable with it, regardless of their age.
- If a child has additional needs, these should be considered when leaving them at home alone or with an older sibling.
- When leaving a younger child with an older sibling think about what may happen if they were to have a falling out – would they both be safe?
The NSPCC’s helpline is available 24/7 on 0808 800 5000 for free and confidential advice.