Bring in law to protect under-12s home alone

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Bring in law to protect under-12s home alone

Post by MelO » Fri Nov 14, 2014 10:30 pm

Leaving a child home alone under the age of 12 should be made a criminal offence, most parents believe.
A poll of parents commissioned by The Times found that two thirds want the government to set a legally binding minimum age limit. Most say that the current situation, in which families judge for themselves when it is safe to leave a child, is inadequate.
In the poll, conducted by YouGov, the age of 12 emerged as the earliest point at which most parents felt comfortable leaving a child at home for an hour, with 61 per cent saying that this would be generally safe.
Only a quarter of parents thought it acceptable to leave a ten-year-old for an hour, and 7 per cent believed that applied to an eight-year-old.
Currently, the law says only that parents should not leave children alone if they are placed at risk, but there is no minimum age. There is also no age law for babysitters, although many parents believe the minimum ageis 14.
The lack of clarity has caused concern among many parents that they could face prosecution or the involvment of social services.
The poll was commissioned after it emerged that a mother who left her six-year-old son at home for 45 minutes had been given a police caution. She is fighting to have it expunged from her records.
The incident took place eight years ago when the mother was taking a driving lesson — the last before her driving test — and a health visitor called at her home. The caution is preventing the mother from pursuing a career as a mental health nurse.
The issue was also fiercely debated when Madeleine McCann disappeared from her bed in a holiday apartment in the Algarve in May 2007. Aged three, Madeleine and her twin siblings had been left asleep while her parents dined with friends at a restaurant 50m away. Her parents say that the apartment was always within their sight.
Justine Roberts, chief executive of the Mumsnet forum, said that the question of when it was reasonable to leave a child alone at home featured regularly on its website. Although she did not believe that a new criminal law was required, some national advice would be useful, she said.
“The consensus [on Mumsnet] is that it really comes down to the individual child. Some parents would happily leave their responsible eight-year-old on the sofa for ten minutes while they pop to the corner shop. Others would balk at leaving a more absent-minded 12-year-old home alone under any circumstances,” she said. “The reason why the question arises so regularly on Mumsnet is because we all want to be reassured that our decisions aren’t entirely off the wall. If some clear and flexible research-based guidance were made available to parents, it certainly wouldn’t hurt.”
The poll found that three in five parents did not know what the law was. Despite the public demand for guidance, though, there is little prospect that the main parties will act.
A spokeswoman for the Department for Education said it was important that parents made the decision.
“It is vital that children are kept safe and the law is clear that parents can be prosecuted if they leave a child unsupervised in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering or injury to health,” she said. “Parents know their children best, and the NSPCC has produced guidance on this issue that highlights the risks of leaving their children unsupervised.”
The NSPCC children’s charity said that while it may be surprising that there was no legal minimum age for leaving a child alone, it was always unacceptable to leave babies or very young children unsupervised.
“Children mature at different rates, so it is vital we have a common sense approach that ensures flexibility for parents, as they are best placed to know what is right for their child,” Chris Cloke, head of child protection awareness at the charity, said.
“Ideally, parents should check that their children are happy and confident to be left at home alone and know what to do in an emergency.”

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Re: Bring in law to protect under-12s home alone

Post by catkins » Fri Nov 14, 2014 10:45 pm

Must admit I thought that (in the UK)....the legal age which someone could babysit was 13/14...

As for leaving a child alone for a short period.....I can only say that I was considered over protective ...and I never left mine alone until they were 11/12 and that was to pop to the village shop for 5/10mins... :s_biggrin But then I never let him cross the village road by himself until he was 10... :red:

I do think though that a lot depends on the maturity or commonsense of the child.

I also think that no one is given a book on normal child's down to commonsense and I now realize that I was probably a bit over the top with mine.....but hey I'm not afraid to admit I may have gotten some things wrong.

And they have actually turned out to be normal hard working lads. :s_yes
Madeleine McCann- Abducted May 2007 from Praia Da Luz, Algarve, Portugal.
DCI Redwood of Scotland Yard - stated that Madeleine could still be found - alive. ... ign?_rdr=p

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Re: Bring in law to protect under-12s home alone

Post by Cath » Sun Nov 16, 2014 12:48 pm

I do think though that a lot depends on the maturity or commonsense of the child.
I totally agree with that.

Why do people want to put everything in a law?
In a lengthy ruling on Tuesday [28-04-2015], Amaral was found guilty of libelling the pair and ordered to pay them €250,000 each in damages. The judge also banned further sale of his book, the Truth of the Lie.

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Re: Bring in law to protect under-12s home alone

Post by urcrazy » Sun Nov 16, 2014 5:08 pm

Well it's claimed the present law is confusing because parents don't know what the law permits. And it does seem to be unevenly applied sometimes.

But I'm still on the side of less law around parenting rather than more.
Scotland Yard detectives believe Madeleine was abducted in "a criminal act by a stranger"

No Janine you poor deluded muppet, I am NOT John Lowe.
And neither, thankfully, are you.

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