Should You Leave Your Child At Home Alone?

In the United States there are only three states that currently have laws regarding a minimum age for leaving a child at home alone. Illinois law requires children to be 14 years old before being left alone; in Maryland, the minimum age is 8, while in Oregon, children must be 10 before being left home alone.

 

In the UK, there is no law stating what age a should can be left alone but The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC ) says that children under 12 are rarely mature enough to be left alone for a long period of time.  Children under 16 shouldn't be left alone overnight and babies, toddlers and very young children should never be left alone.

 

Here in Barbados there is no law stating what age a child can be left alone but it should be noted that parents and carers can be prosecuted for neglect of a child if they are judged to have placed a child at risk of harm by leaving them at home alone for any period of time.

 

Parents are known to take chances with very young children and babies when they leave them sleeping and ‘run to the shop’ for an item or two, but this is unsafe as children can wake at any time and they can become scared and upset when they realise that they are alone. 

In the case of any emergency babies and toddlers cannot protect themselves and therefore it is unsafe and is considered neglect if left alone for any period of time.

Children 12 and 13 years old should be judged on a case- by-case basis but should not be left alone for more than three or four hours, not after dark and definitely not overnight.

 

Making the decision to leave your child at home alone can be very difficult as there are a number of things that must be taken into consideration.

 

Whether you and your child are comfortable with the idea will often depend on how mature and adaptable your child is and we all know how much this can vary from child to child. 

 

To help you make a decision think about these things:

  • 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 after dark or 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 this, 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?

  • Older siblings should never be given the responsibility of caring for younger children.

  • Is the reason for leaving the children home alone a good one?  Some parents think about leaving children alone to attend parties, movies or fun events.  Ask yourself if it is really important to leave you child alone.

  • Is there someone like a neighbour or family member who could look after them or check up on them?

  • Do you know how long you will be out?

  • Do you know what they will do while you are out?

  • Is your child prepared to deal with the unexpected?

  • Would they be able to deal with an emergency?

  • Do you have emergency information in their phones (if they have cell phones) or placed in an area that they can easily access?

  • Do they have the cell phone numbers for both parents, trusted neighbours or other family or close friends?

  • Why not get a baby sitter for the few hours just to be on the safe side?

© 2011 Barbados Children Directory

 

Contact us by  Email              barbadoschildrendirectory@gmail.com  
Inbox us via facebook            www.facebook.com/barbadoschildrendirectory

  • Wix Facebook page

Subscribe for our monthly newsletter