Law in Children’s Lives: Being Home Alone
Is it okay for children to be left at home alone?
In Adventures with Lex, Lex asked children what age they thought it was okay to be left at home alone for a short time (about an hour or so).
Children’s views varied a lot on this, as you can see from the blue bars in the graph below (the bigger the bar, the more children chose that age).
Some children thought it was as high as 18 years, and a few as young as 8.
The average answer was 12 and a half years old.
What is the recommended age?
12.5 is quite close to what the NSPCC recommends. They suggest:
Babies, toddlers and very young children should never be left alone
Children under 12 should not be left alone for a long time
Children under 16 should never be left on their own overnight.
By listening to what children told Lex about this issue, we found that they take the issue very seriously and we recommend that children’s own views are the most important thing to consider when deciding if they can be left at home on their own.
Is there a law about this?
No. But anyone over 16 who is responsible for a younger child can be charged with an offence if they deliberately neglect or abandon the child, or cause the child to be neglected or abandoned, in a way that is likely to cause the child unnecessary suffering or injury to their health.
This is part of the Children and Young Person’s Act 1933, s 1.
Find out more
If you want to read more about this, you can look at the NSPCC guidance