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children left home alone

(78 Posts)
HowVeryDareYou Thu 16-Jun-22 11:28:33

How old would you say a child needs to be before they can be left alone for a few days? I know someone who has gone away with work for 4 days and has left her son (only just 14). Grandparents are estranged, as is the father. No neighbours to help. The child is getting his own meals, seeing to his own laundry, getting himself off to school, etc.

Shinamae Thu 16-Jun-22 11:30:13

I think 14 is the legal age a child can be left alone

Smileless2012 Thu 16-Jun-22 11:31:53

It depends on the child I suppose but IMO 14 is too young to be left alone for 4 days with no adult supervision. This boy does sound as if he has everything under control but I wouldn't have left him.

1summer Thu 16-Jun-22 11:37:51

I may be wrong but I thought legally you shouldnt leave a child alone overnight when they are under 16.

CassieJ Thu 16-Jun-22 11:38:49

There is no legal age to leave a child on their own.

At 14 I would say they are okay for a whole day on their own, but not to go away and leave them to their own devices.
The school could report to social services if they find out he is on his own.

HowVeryDareYou Thu 16-Jun-22 11:45:15

Perhaps I'm old-fashioned, but my own were never left alone until the eldest was 19, the younger one was then 16.

I'm going to keep an eye on things.

Redhead56 Thu 16-Jun-22 11:48:35

Sixteen is when a child gets to decide if they want to see estranged parents after break up divorce etc. I think it is sixteen old enough to decide to stay on at school etc.

AGAA4 Thu 16-Jun-22 11:54:54

Some 14 year olds are mature for their age and others aren't.
How hard for the poor mum who had nobody to help her and possibly lose her job if she didn't go.
I wouldn't have left any of my children alone for four days but then I had plenty of people who would have helped.

LauraNorderr Thu 16-Jun-22 11:55:19

I have three 15 year old granddaughters and one eighteen year old grandson. There is only one of them that is mature and capable enough to be left alone overnight and it’s not the eldest.
It depends on the confidence, maturity. and ability of the child.

LauraNorderr Thu 16-Jun-22 11:56:55

Crossed posts AGA and how kind of you to point out the difficulty for the poor Mum. I admit I hadn’t thought about that.

PinkCosmos Thu 16-Jun-22 12:02:22

As others have said, it depends how mature the child is.

I thought 14 was the official age for being able to babysit.

My parents went on holiday for a week when I was 16 and I was perfectly fine.

On the other hand, my DH's ex left her son (my DH's step-son) on his own for a week when he was 16 and the police ended up being called. He was a bit wild and we didn't know anything about it at the time as we didn't live close by.

Mamardoit Thu 16-Jun-22 12:04:22

I think 14 is too young to be left overnight. I know all mine were more than capable of cooking meals and using the washing machine at that age. During the day is fine, and even minding a younger siblings for a while would be ok. But being totally on their own for several days isn't OK.

We left our eldest two aged 18 and 16 while we took the little ones for a weeks seaside holiday. They did have other relatives and the next door neighbours to call on if needed.

Chestnut Thu 16-Jun-22 12:10:58

They are all different, so it's impossible to say whether a child of 14 can be left alone for 4 days. If he has been alone before and acted sensibly and can cope with it then it could be okay. But boys tend to be less mature than girls so who knows. It depends on the boy. He definitely needs to know what to do if there's a fire. They don't recommend extinguishers now, but a fire blanket is advised. He may have to evacuate the premises and call on a neighbour if it gets out of hand.

Hithere Thu 16-Jun-22 12:12:53

Depends on the individual

Vintagejazz Thu 16-Jun-22 12:20:56

Far to young to be left on their own. If there were a couple of older reliable siblings around that would be OK. But in this case, and if it was a necessary work trip, I would be seeing if she could stay with a friend.

ElaineI Thu 16-Jun-22 14:39:14

There is no legal age but NSPCC suggests 16 but depends on the child. If they are trustworthy, are not likely to be scared or do something like leave a burner on and they have details of how to contact an adult then it is not against the law.

Ali08 Thu 16-Jun-22 14:51:34

Hmmm. That's about the age I started to leave mine alone as we had to tend to my MiL in London. (Sometimes, it was just my husband who went, though I did sometimes accompany him to give extra help).
BUT, we were lucky enough that we had a lovely neighbour who was there if they needed help, and my DDs BFFs parents were along the road!!
We kept in touch via phone, and had there been a problem I'd have been on the first train back. (Around 77 miles away).

nightowl Thu 16-Jun-22 15:56:42

No legal age but if anything goes wrong not only could there be a tragedy but the mum could be prosecuted for neglect. And if Children’s Services are made aware the young person could potentially be placed in foster care and care proceedings initiated. I suspect that if the school become aware a referral will be made, as CassieJ said above. This could open a real can of worms.

Riverwalk Thu 16-Jun-22 16:18:15

Fourteen is very young to be left alone for four days - I'm sure he'll be OK if he's the sensible type. At least he's at school so shouldn't get too lonely.

I feel sad for mum and son that they had no one, friend, relative or neighbour to help out.

I hope mum has some strategies in place for any future work trips. I wonder what happens to the boy in the long school holidays.

Elizabeth27 Thu 16-Jun-22 16:27:07

Do you know all the details? Is someone checking up on them, is a neighbour aware and available if needed? Is the child ok about it and would rather that than go somewhere else?

BlueBelle Thu 16-Jun-22 16:45:32

No I wouldn’t definitely wouldn’t leave a 14 year old alone however competent they were there is no telling if there could be a emergency a 16 year old maybe one night even then I personally wouldn’t want to be away 4 days and you do say ‘only just’ 14
So not for me I would never do that

Doodledog Thu 16-Jun-22 16:45:55

I agree that it depends on the child.

If you can marry (and presumably run a house) at 16, it seems bonkers to say that you are too young at 14 to be alone for a few days, but I must admit I wouldn't have left mine at that age, unless there was no alternative, which as others have said, may be the case.

How well do you know the family, OP? Could you offer to help if this happens in future? Even having a phone number of someone local to ring if necessary might be reassuring for both the boy and his mum.

timetogo2016 Thu 16-Jun-22 16:53:22

I think it depends on the individual.
Some 14 year olds are very sensible,then some are 14 coming on 4.
He sounds like a sensible young man to me.

Sara1954 Thu 16-Jun-22 21:22:02

Too young in my opinion, I would never have left any of mine at fourteen.
We have recently started leaving our oldest granddaughter who is twelve for an odd morning, and she’s very sensible.
But it’s not really about being sensible, if the unexpected happened, they would be unlikely to know how to deal with it, however sensible they are.
I would also feel really sad for my child being left alone for four days.

HowVeryDareYou Thu 16-Jun-22 21:39:36

Doodledog I know the family. I've acted on my concerns.