Charity’s reminder to not leave children home alone as summer school holiday nears

PUBLISHED: 07:00 19 July 2018 | UPDATED: 10:16 19 July 2018

The NSPCC has reminded parents to not leave children home alone over the summer holidays. Picture: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

The NSPCC has reminded parents to not leave children home alone over the summer holidays. Picture: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

A charity has reminded parents to not leave young children at home alone as the start of the summer holidays nears.

The NSPCC said that last August its helpline made 849 referrals involving children around the country to police and social services due to concerns over them being unsupervised by their parent or carer.

A third were aged five or under.

During 2017/18, there were 7,277 children referred to authorities in total, with the problem most acute in August.

Sarah Lambley, NSPCC community fundraising manager for Norfolk, 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.”

The charity says while a child may seem responsible enough to be left alone, parents and carers should think about how they would cope with unexpected situations, such as an emergency, a stranger calling at the house, being hungry or if the parent is away longer than anticipated.

Its home alone guide for parents says that children aged under 12 are rarely mature enough to cope in an emergency and should not be left alone for long periods of time, while 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, it says.

Other points include:

• 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 around the clock on 0808 800 5000 for free and confidential advice.

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