I’ve heard the debate Kids Left Home Alone While Parents Are At Work over and over. There are many different sides and different reasons for this issue. I’ve discussed it with my other mom friends and see both sides to the issue.
Should Kids Be Left Home Alone While Parents Are At Work?
For many years there has been a great deal of controversy over kids left to their own devices whilst mom and dad are at work. Kids come home from school, take out the key they’ve been wearing on a lanyard around their necks and let themselves into their home to stay until mom or dad or both arrive home on the evening train.
Historically, they’re called latchkey kids and although the name carries a hugely negative connotation, there really are some kids old and mature enough to care for themselves. So, how old do kids in the UK need to be before they can be left alone to care for themselves?
What the NSPCC Says on Leaving Kids Alone
In many countries, there are steadfast laws that spell out specifically how old a child must be before they can be left in their own care. While there is no actual law in the UK on an exact age, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, NSPCC, states that parents need to use reasonable caution when deciding whether or not their kids are old enough and responsible enough to care for themselves.
That, right there, is the operative word – ‘responsible.’ Are your kids mature enough, even at 16 or 17, to be left alone or do they act in childish ways that could be an endangerment to themselves or others?
Precautions You Can Take as a Responsible Parent
For the sake of argument, we are going to say that your kids are old enough to care for themselves for short durations, such as after school or on school holidays when mum and dad are at work. If you have given your ‘child’ the directive to stay in the home until an adult is on the premises, what can you do to ensure their safety during those times?
The first thing you can, and should, do is to hire a locksmith to ascertain whether all locks are in good working order to keep intruders out. There are a number of different kinds of locking gadgets to consider but always choose the type your kids can use easily or they are no good whatsoever. To get an idea of what kind of locks are available, click here to visit the website of one of London’s most trusted locksmiths.
Honesty Is the Best Policy
Yes, it’s true that the cost of childcare is beyond what most working parents can afford but your children’s lives very well could be at stake here. Honesty is always the best policy. Just because you have a teenager doesn’t mean that your child can safely care for himself or herself. Be honest with yourself for the safety of your child. If you feel that your son or daughter hasn’t reached a level of maturity to make healthy decisions throughout time alone, it’s better to err on the side of caution. Join forces with neighbours and the parents of your child’s friends to perhaps take turns seeing to each other’s kids.
The bottom line is safety. If you feel your child will be safe when left alone based on his or her level of maturity and ability to follow directions, it is probably safe to do so. Even then, always have a backup plan or an adult who is willing to check up on them at intervals throughout your absence. At the first sign of disobedience it is incumbent upon you as a parent to get childcare. Your children count on you to keep them safe and that is what the law expects from you as well.