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At what age is it OK to leave a child on their own?

(31 Posts)
CariGransnet (GNHQ) Mon 31-Oct-16 10:34:24

It's one thing popping to the shops for five minutes (but again - what age would you do that from) but leaving a child alone for a whole evening? Or in a hotel room? This story has provoked much debate - love to know your views

tanith Mon 31-Oct-16 10:43:45

Popping to the shops in the daytime maybe 10yrs but I wouldn't be comfortable leaving a child under 15 in a hotel room unless I were downstairs in the same hotel. A whole evening at home then I would either try and get them to have a friend stay over so they had some company at 13/14. I just don't think younger children are equipped to deal with an emergency should it arise. Of course everyone will have a different opinion depending on their own experiences and the maturity of the children involved but I think most parents are a good judge of their own children.

gillybob Mon 31-Oct-16 10:51:51

Well according to our LEA its perfectly fine to leave an 8 year old and a 6 year old home alone while their father ferries the third child (10) to school in his van, returning to pick one of them up, (leaving the other one completely alone) and then returns yet again for the third child. shock

gillybob Mon 31-Oct-16 10:53:41

There again the same bunch of idiots people did not know that it was against the law to carry passengers in the cargo area in the back of a van.

Daddima Mon 31-Oct-16 10:55:41

I think it depends on the child. I don't remember when ( or even if) I left my children, as my neighbours were always happy to sit with them. I'm sure they were teenagers. Mind you, as teenagers there are other hazards! As tanith said, parents know their children.

I do remember that at 10 I had a key to my aunt's house, and went there after school to light their coal fire for them coming in from work, and at 14 my friend and I looked after ( fed,bathed, and put to bed) her auntie's 4 children, all under 6!

daphnedill Mon 31-Oct-16 11:02:11

I was a latchkey kid at 11 and looked after my 8 and 5 year old sisters until my mother came home from work. Our next door neighbour was aware of the situation and I always knew where to go for help. My parents also used to go out in the evenings and leave us on our own. There were no mobiles in those days, but I did know where my parents were.

gillybob, I thought it was the appeal panel member who told you that , not the LEA. Have you applied for transport yet?

felice Mon 31-Oct-16 11:05:06

I wonder how the parents of Madeliene McCann feel when reading these stories.
We lived very near their apartment a few years before in Portugal. We never left the children alone in the evenings.
We travelled a lot with the children and always organised childcare if we were going to be in the Hotel restaurant.
The very beautiful young woman who babysat in Singapore prompted X to quietly say that he would like to be babysat too. DS2 who was 13 at the time was so well behaved we would have liked to have brought her home with us.
Seriously you never know who is staying in Hotels, who has been watching your family, I could never have relaxed if they were alone.

trisher Mon 31-Oct-16 14:05:01

I was a latch key child as well, but I had strict instructions about what I was allowed to do and was safe in my own house. I wasn't wandering around hotel corridors until my parents came home at 1.30 am. It was lucky that it was the hotel porter who found him, could have been anyone.
If he was anyone else social services would be asking questions

durhamjen Mon 31-Oct-16 14:18:41

Should this be in 'Not much of a role model'?

I used to look after my sisters at that age if both my parents were at work, but there was always a next door neighbour to go to if there was a problem, and it was only for a couple of hours at the most.
My brother was supposed to be in charge of all of us, but he went out to play with his mates as soon as my mother had left to go to work. She used to do work 6-10 p.m. at a hospital within walking distance. I can't remember there ever being a problem.

There was a long discussion on the radio this morning about it.
As someone said, if it had been a single mother on a council estate whose son had been found wandering the street, he would possibly have been taken into care.
My first thought was Madeleine McCann, but nobody mentioned her on the radio this morning.

MaizieD Mon 31-Oct-16 14:23:51

I was a latch key child before I left Primary school, but it was only for a short period of time before my sister got home from secondary school. I used to revive the damped down fire on my own when I got home in the winter...At age 11 I was cycling 3-4 miles to school and back on my own...

I think I would have been happy to leave an 11 year old for a couple of hours, along with something for him/her to do (what, child had no TV, no Ipad, no books?) and mobile number for emergency. And telling them what time to expect me back.

What I find really bad about the story is the lovely parents ignoring attempts to contact them. If they'd told their son they'd be back about 9.30 he must have been frantic with worry when they were much later and couldn't be contacted. It was a horrible thing to do to the poor child.

Jalima Mon 31-Oct-16 14:41:59

The party wasn't even in the same hotel and they told the staff they would be back at 9.30 pm (apparently) and got back at 1.30 am (apparently).

durhamjen Mon 31-Oct-16 16:32:48

I wonder which experts Gove will listen to on this.

rosesarered Mon 31-Oct-16 16:39:40

I was a latchkey child at about 9 and onwards ( a lot were) we were sensible though, and it was our own house.No, I would not leave an 11 year old in a hotel room for more than a couple of hours.

Jalima Mon 31-Oct-16 16:43:47

I used to be left to make the beds and do the breakfast dishes from the age of about 10 when DM went to work shock
But that was in our own home.

rubylady Mon 31-Oct-16 19:44:54

We left my ED in bed on holiday in Florida while we were outside at the pool, not far away, she was 12 years old at the time. The door was locked so I thought she was safe.

On our arrival back, my ED said that a maintenance man had been into the room. I went to reception and went ballistic. Anything could have happened to her. It didn't, but it could have. My ex husband didn't see why I was getting so upset and angry as she was ok. (No wonder I divorced the k***).

I can't remember now what they did apart from apologise but it was quite scary and she was really old enough to be left on her own in a hotel room for a sleep while we were just outside.

MaizieD Mon 31-Oct-16 19:53:45

On the only occasion we did leave the children in a UK hotel room (aged about 10 & 12 I think) while we went for a meal we came back to find they'd ordered all sorts of expensive stuff from room service...grin

Elegran Mon 31-Oct-16 20:34:37

Friends went out for a meal leaving a teenage babysitter. They were delayed home by five minutes after their promised return, to find the house empty and the children nowhere to be seen. The babysitter's Mum had come round for her and carted her off home in high dudgeon. The eldest boy (about 12) had woken, found no adults in the house, got the rest of the children up and dressed and marched them all round to the police station.

MargaretX Mon 31-Oct-16 21:14:23

On Andrew Marr Rachel Johnson said that the son of Gove was dog sitting 2 dogs in the hotel room.
I think its too young for our sheltered children when you realise what 10 and 12 year olds in other parts of the world have to do.

Deedaa Mon 31-Oct-16 22:10:22

DS has reminded me that we left him on his own when he was 11. But that was at home with the next door neighbour keeping an eye on him and us coming back when we said we would.

An 11 year old in a hotel full of strangers whose parents stay out for several hours longer than expected and don't answer their phones is something else. Surely if your phone rings while you are out the first thing you think is "Is the child all right?"

durhamjen Mon 31-Oct-16 22:12:08

Bet your friends never did it again, Elegran. What happened at the police station?

Anya Mon 31-Oct-16 22:27:26

I used to walk down the hill to the bus stop (about half a mile) get the bus there from Port Glasgow to Greenock, about 5 miles away, get off and walk the rest of the way to school.

I was 6.

GailMarie1958 Mon 31-Oct-16 22:35:46

A child of 11 can be capable of physically taking care of themselves for a while, BUT emotionally they can soon feel vulnerable when left alone, they need to feel safe, they need to be able to call out and know your there and they certainly need you to be back when you say you will.
I started babysitting in the evening at 14 but not for long and only if parents were local, still had a sitter until l was 16 if out for a late night.

Penstemmon Mon 31-Oct-16 23:01:33

I think it was quite a long time to leave the child even if they had nodded to the porter to keep an eye on him. Many hotels have a babysitting service where they will provide guests with a list of DBS checked babysitters. I would have thought that Gove and Vine could afford to pay someone to watch TV in their room for the evening with their son.
If they got delayed/ caught up unexpectedly and so stayed longer than intended they could have called the hotel and asked them to check on their child and reassure. All in all not very responsible parenting. Glad no harm came to the kid. I really dislike Gove and feel I am being really generous to him here thlgrin

nigglynellie Tue 01-Nov-16 06:50:11

No law was broken and we don't know the full story. Perhaps this is none of our business?!

BlueBelle Tue 01-Nov-16 07:03:14

If youre in the public eye and enjoying the money and perks that go with it then you have to expect public interest Niggly why shouldn't people have an opinion on things like this He was wrong and if it had been a different person they would have been castigated. What is the difference apart from the child being slightly older between this and Madelain McCann, the McCanns were hung drawn and quartered for Madeleine's disappearance Can you imagine the headlines if the parents were from a council estate or were Muslims