Should it be illegal to leave a child home alone under 12 years old?

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A YouGov poll of parents found that two thirds want the government to set a minimum age limit to leave children home alone.

Most say that the current situation, in which families judge for themselves when it is safe to leave a child, is inadequate.

Should leaving a child under 12 at home should be made a criminal offence?  What is your experience and what are your views?

Should it should be illegal to leave a child home alone under 12 years old?

9551 people have already voted, what's your opinion? Yes No

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jen70
13th Feb 2015
0
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It will not save children from abuse, and risk putting perfectly responsible parents on the wrong side of the law. So it would be legal to send my child out on the streets to play, but illegal for me to walk to the postbox (which is closer than the bottom of my garden) or nip out to pick up one child from Cubs while the other is safe asleep in bed? (Yeah, I could get killed in a car crash on the way, but if I've dragged the toddler out with me, he's dead too!) So my eleven year old can walk home from school by himself, but the minute he sets foot inside the house, if I'm not there yet, I'm breaking the law? It would be a pointless law if time would be wasted prosecuting parents who had taken reasonable steps to make sure their child was safe, like teaching them about safety and who they could phone for help if they were worried. I could be blind drunk in the living room while my toddler plays with matches upstairs, or leave them being babysat by a psychopathic 16 year old, or forget to feed them for three days. The law would clearly see that this was abuse, without having to define the exact circumstance of leaving them alone as illegal in its own right.
stardust
1st Feb 2015
0
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As a child I spent a lot of time with my Nan I was left at home on my own way before the age of 12. I would travel from Liverpool to Manchester on my own from the age of 9. She walked from North Wales to Liverpool at the age of 12 to try to find her relatives at the age of 12 and had to look after her 3 younger siblings. Parents should teach their children to be self sufficient and society should teach them to be self sufficient instead of abusing them in the form of being overprotective.
twiggy2014
12th Jan 2015
-1
Thanks for voting!
I think it is stupid for whoever leaves their children on their own under 12 years old because they cannot defend themselves if something happend to them. For example, if a parent left a 12 yaer old alone for about 2 1/2 hours and in that time, a person broke into their house, how are they supposed to know what to do?
BikeRaceGuru
7th Jan 2015
-1
Thanks for voting!
Course it should be illegal.. What's wrong with some of you people??
I have a 20 year old daughter who was left alone up to the age of 6 whilst her parents went out drinking and she still suffers as a result.. Before some of you jump up and start shouting the odds that I shouldn't of left her the fact is I didn't.. I'm her adopted father, social services intervention, abandonment issues, attachment issues.. Glad to say she's turning the negatives back into positives, she's studying to become a mental health nurse now, with a view to helping young people with similar starts to her.. This world where children grow up quickly but 12 is a little bit to quick..
grandmother
6th Jan 2015
0
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I was left at about two and a half years by my parents, this continued throughout my childhood and is the cause of panic attacks as an adult as a result.
Rainbodrops
4th Jan 2015
1
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I think this is a really complex issue.
Having been on one side a 2 parent family and used childcare as needed that worked well but was costly. When my partner and I split and he stated he would no longer be my babysitter I was left with a host of issues, working a distance from home, away working and now no back up. I approached work for flexible working from home it was declined. Acrimony between my ex and I meant he used every opportunity to claim I left my 10 and 12 year old alone for approx 1-2 hours before I got home in the evening, had police and social workers call and due to stress I gave up my work. The police were horrid, social work were led by his comments yet no one ever could say my children were in danger or not capable of self sufficiency for the 1-2 hours. Yet since them female police have advised that children could be left alone without issue at that age and as clearly capable. I approached council, social work for guidance on child care service for those over age 12 there are none. It was a horrific time. I don't wish that on any mother and be clear the majority of child care responsibility lies with the mother.
Now 4 years on I agree there should be a minimum age I also would struggle to say 12 should be the age limit. Or that I would be prepared to stand in judgement of any mother in her choice which will ultimately be cost and affordability driven. And other malicious factors may contribute to who objects and their reasons for doing so.
nbanfield
3rd Jan 2015
1
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i think it all depends on the childs parenting how mature the child is i was brought up on a tight leash where my mother made all my decisions for me right up till i left the home checked my room was in by when it got dark even in the winter aged 15 i had to be in when the first street light came on at about half 5 and at every time i had no supervision i went in to rebel mode as i had no life experiance to draw from i was often in trouble my brother on the other hand being a boy was given free reign and left alone and to make his own decisions learned froim his own experiances to be a very mature young man an was rarely in any trouble i think parenting should be about taking the lead from your child let them have there freedom where earnt and pull the reigns when the begin to struggle the first time u leave them just be next door let them earn that trust show them how easily trust is destroyed u should know ur child well enough to make this decision with out the goverments input or you shouldnt have a child
skyfire109
25th Dec 2014
1
Thanks for voting!
Yeah, coming from a 12 year old, I would say that it's fine, my parents allow me and/or my brother and sister to stay at home alone, no problems caused. In my opinion, if there were any problems caused by a 12 year old, then the parents are most likely to blame.It seems to me like most people think that 12 year olds are the same as 6 year olds, and if the child is problematic in a way that would cause trouble if they are left alone, the parent/s should take this into account and ask a neighbour or friend or even just an older sibling to stay with them while they're out.Obviously there would need to be either some food or at the very least money for pizza or something like that but , apart from that, I don't see a problem with it.
Robsplat
31st Dec 2014
0
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I know many 12 year olds can be mature and sensible. I was. I used to look after my younger brother and sister at that age when my mom used to go out to work.
The problem arises when something unexpected happens. A fire for instance. Many kids of that age will panic and not know what to do. Because they have panicked.
michaelnubnub
20th Dec 2014
2
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As long as it isn't for long periods and they are told what not to do
P.Pig
16th Dec 2014
2
Thanks for voting!
It depends on the child & the parent/parents.
What duration ?day or night ?Any local adult to contact if required ?
It is the responsibility of the parent/parents to advise & ensure the child is aware they follow the rules & earn there independence.This takes Time & there are no short cuts!
All children require tuition in life skills & this is the responsibility of the parent. Simple everyday tasks,cost Nil ,only Time!
Invest in your child & they reap the benefit.
lilliepod75
16th Dec 2014
1
Thanks for voting!
Well if its good enough for the McCans to leave 3 babies under 5, a 12 year old shud be fine
Robsplat
31st Dec 2014
1
Thanks for voting!
Well said!
I still cannot understand why the parents were not charged with leaving the kids alone!
One was 'alledgedly' snatched, so let them off?
I have never thought the kid was taken while they were out...
muddyblackcat
30th Dec 2014
2
Thanks for voting!
What an awful horrible thing to write. That poor family has more than paid for their mistake yet still trolls like you continue to point the finger of blame. Do you not think they are all to aware of what the consequences of their actions were, and that forever they have to live with it? I hope for their sake they don't stumble across this. You should be thoroughly ashamed of yourself for saying this
Robsplat
31st Dec 2014
1
Thanks for voting!
It is a pity that people like you cannot understand that there are A LOT of people who feel that:
A) The child wasn't snatched, but was disposed of earlier.
B) Whether the kid was snatched or not, the parents should NOT have left the kids unattended.
C) Because the kids WERE left unattended and one went missing that they should STILL be charged. After all, if the kids had NOT been left unattended, IF one was snatched, they wouldn't have been snatched!
D) Would we even be discussing this if the same thing had happened in Scunthorpe and the house had burned down killing all the children left inside?
I think NOT!
It would be world wide condemnation of the parents leaving the children to fend for themselves..
Mrssam
14th Dec 2014
3
Thanks for voting!
If it were illegal for a child to be left alone at home (the place where they should be safe), then there must be a similar requirement that they not be permitted to be left unaccompanied outside the home. If anyone has the opinion that an 11 yr old should not be left alone at home, should they have an adult with them at all times when travelling to and from school, or when out with mates? - it is out of the home where the dangers cannot be controlled.
Robsplat
31st Dec 2014
0
Thanks for voting!
I like the way you put (should be safe) in brackets.
You could also have used the phrase' in theory'. As that is all it is even when there are adults there with them.
The fact remains that there are some twelve year olds who ARE responsible and show maturity, but there are a greater number that don't.
My niece is nearly thirty with two kids of her own. Yet I STILL wouldn't call her 'mature'. She isn't 'slow' or anything, just bloody immature.
aarian
12th Dec 2014
1
Thanks for voting!
Look children should just enjoy free life as long as it lasts. So yes stay at home go out with friends and have fun
cupcake
11th Dec 2014
2
Thanks for voting!
my daughter is 11 years old and is very sensible for her age. I have started allowing her to stay home on her own with rules in place. she understands them and I feel this is giving her some independence. if she has a problem she has my tel nu and family members to talk to. she is not allowed to open the door for anyone, this is just one of the rules. why should we keep bringing in more new rules to control us all. we should be sensible enough to make the correct decisions for our children. keeping them wrapped up in cotton wool all the time just frustrates them and us.
Lets just be sensible and make a decision on if the child is sensible to be left by the parents, they are the ones that know there children best.
pumpkin118
11th Dec 2014
1
Thanks for voting!
Just because a child seems grown up and sensible, it doesn't stop them being small and vulnerable.
annelevene
10th Dec 2014
1
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Myself and probably most people borne in before the 1980s were left at home for age of six if not younger. I had to get myself ready to go to school and then walk for 15 minutes. I am still alive and unharmed 🙂
My child will be walking to school soon - before even hitting 11
Robsplat
31st Dec 2014
0
Thanks for voting!
Blimey, I heard there was ONE parent doing that. So it's YOU...
Well done!
In our case, the reason we walked to school was because we were a single parent family, without a car, all three kids were 'reasonably' sensible, well we were as a unit 🙂 and even the furthest away school was only a twenty minute walk. Oh, and of course 90% of kids back in the 70s and 80s ALL either walked or cycled to school.
I cannot believe now a days how empty the roads are at school time when the kids are on holiday!
hilip
6th Dec 2014
2
Thanks for voting!
If the parent thinks a child is sensible enough to be left alone they have use of a phone and a drink and they know how to evacuate if there is a fire then it's ok surely . My daughter is a sensible 10 year old and often I have to go to work and leave her for up to an hour until my wife gets in.she also walks home from school with friends lets her self in phones us and waits for my wife for 15 mins. Also a year ago we used to say we are going shopping she didn't want to come so we gave her a choice. I think it's up to the parent they know there own child not the government.
CAMEO
5th Dec 2014
2
Thanks for voting!
WHEN MY 2 YOUNGER CHILDREN REACHED AGES 8 & 10 THEY ENJOYED BEING ON THEIR OWN IF I WENT TO THE LOCAL SHOP OR TO VISIT A NEIGHBOUR. NO HARM EVER HAPPENED TO THEM AS I HAD TOLD THEM NOT TO ANSWER THE DOOR UNLESS THEY KNEW WHO IT WAS & NOT TO TOUCH THE KETTLE ETC. THEY ARE GROWN UP NOW & BOTH VERY CAPABLE, INDEPENDANT & DO NOT FEAR BEING ALONE OR GOING OUT ALONE. THEY WORRIED A LOT LESS THAN I DID!! MOST KIDS, IF TAUGHT, ARE RESPONSIBLE & CAPABLE & GROW UP TO BE WELL ADJUSTED ADULTS WHO DO NOT LEAN ON OTHERS THROUGH LIFE. IT DOES DEPEND ON THE CHILD THO & THE LENGTH OF TIME THEY ARE LEFT.
Robsplat
31st Dec 2014
0
Thanks for voting!
I remember my mom getting home after one of her rare nights out. I'd been babysitting my two younger siblings. I was twelve or thirteen at the time. I told mom that I had had a dirty phone call., She was absolutely horrified, and went into extreme comfort mode, asking if I was scared or anything. I just said it was funny, and how i just egged the guy on, doing my absolute best not to laugh!
I had another one a few weeks later. Didn't know if it was another random call or the same guy 🙂
olufemiojo
3rd Dec 2014
2
Thanks for voting!
Hmmm! Another legislation on whether a Child below 12 yrs shld be left alone at home may imply a "yoke'' on many responsible families. Survival may be difficult as they have to work and fetch for the family...... Now here this: We have four children, who started their training each frm the womb as we(my wife and I), decided. The eldest- a boy, a medical doctor now, started complete care for himself at age 9. The other three also follow suite! The only girl among started cooking for all of us at age 14.......a great assistance for my wife. We have to go back to the BASIC- The BIBLE- The WORD of God. The Holy Bible in Proverb 22 vs 6 says: "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it". So every parent shld be encouraged to train their children, everything shld not be law, law where you are at the mercy of Social Workers. So pls allow parents to decide and a little allowance shld be permitted (not child abuse), to instil discipline and good training.... read also Proverb 23 vs 10-15.
Devongirl
3rd Dec 2014
2
Thanks for voting!
So,you think your child is very capable, probably right, but, have you thought about the nasty people that may come to the door ? Every child is too special to be put in that situation. Ok, so told not to answer the door,hmm ,just be very aware people study your movements before they strike..
nunn1
26th Nov 2014
3
Thanks for voting!
No it should not,i am a lone parent to an 11 year old boy and a 16 year old girl,if it were made illegal i would not be able to work ,i work on a farm and my house goes with my job so we would be made homeless,i have taught my son and daughter to cook so if i work late they are able to feed themselves,they also have mobile phones so i can keep in regular contact with them or they can ring me if they need.how else do children learn to cope when they are older if they dont experience it growing up.
mutantdisco
22nd Nov 2014
4
Thanks for voting!
In nutshell - no! We do not live in a nanny state & parents should absolutely have the right to judge what is best for their own child.

It's worth noting, at 11 most children will start secondary School & for the first time have to get the bus, train, walk by themselves - they will probably even be given a house key. If you vote Yes for this, you are basically saying that an 11 year old at secondary School needs a child minder? Your child will hate you!!!

In all seriousness though, I strongly feel we need to stop wrapping up our children in cotton wool and start making them Worldly wise from a younger age. Some of my 12 year old Daughters friends, at Secondary School have not got a clue because they have never done anything for themselves & even now get collected from School by their Mom in the 4 x 4. How does this help a child become a savvy, knowledgeable teen/adult? & more to the point - how will they ever notice danger or know how to react in an unsafe situation?

Of course, I would not ever dream of leaving a 5 year old at home alone, but as a child nears double figures I personally feel we should have taught them enough & made them aware enough to be left alone for a short period.
kafka
18th Nov 2014
4
Thanks for voting!
No - some 10 year olds are quite OK to leave alone.

Some 15 year olds are not!!!

It depends on the child.

Are we going to prosecute every adult who leaves a child alone to go down the road to buy a pint of milk.

It would be perfectly legal to send the child for the milk but is it safe to do so?

The current law is fine
Mike Brightman
18th Nov 2014
4
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I agree with Kaye.
Herbert
18th Nov 2014
4
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So do I a matter of common-sense
andbrown01
17th Nov 2014
4
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yes with out a doubt
Dominika
17th Nov 2014
5
Thanks for voting!
I think that the parents are best placed to decide what is best for their own child. Some 12 year olds are responsible and can be left, some aren't.
Baxi
17th Nov 2014
5
Thanks for voting!
Hi agree with Kaye. Some 12 year olds are really immature and others are very aware and grown up. It depends on the child. But, please not another law!!
Kaye
16th Nov 2014
6
Thanks for voting!
It is a very difficult subject .One twelve year old may be more grown up than another. But to make it a criminal offence is another matter.
Archiebald
16th Nov 2014
4
Thanks for voting!
Thats a good point Kaye..What if parents just need to pop to nearby shops for 30 minutes and the kids say aged 11 are watching TV...they could be prosecuted...but the the government does need some age limit I suppose and 12 seems sensible
Archiebald
16th Nov 2014
4
Thanks for voting!
Its a very grey area so the government have to have some age and 12 seems reasonable. Our kids were all fairly sensible by that age
maureen14
16th Nov 2014
5
Thanks for voting!
I believe no child should ever be left home even for a few minutes so much can happen in so little time. I think 15/16 should be the right age and even then only if the child is to be trusted
Robsplat
31st Dec 2014
0
Thanks for voting!
Maybe you should look at your own method of bringing up your own children?
If you keep them all on a short reign they'll never learn...
We three kids were all taught to look after ourselves from an early age because our divorced mom had to go to work. She would use the single lady next door to babysit on the seldom occasion that she had a night out. If Betty couldn't be there when mom left, then I'd babysit until she arrived. Occasionally I'd babysit by myself.
I don't think you can have a blanket law fairly covering all children as children mature at different rates and ages, and I don't just mean girls earlier than boys.
Wilf
16th Nov 2014
4
Thanks for voting!
I think you are right Maureen as its so easy for an accident for a small child to happen
Coach1946
16th Nov 2014
5
Thanks for voting!
I have an eleven year old son, twice I have left him alone just for a few minutes. However I feel that twelve being a minimum age for doing this, is probably the correct age.
Wilf
16th Nov 2014
4
Thanks for voting!
Yes I definitely think it should be. What happens if there is an accident or something like a fire breaks out etc, a youngster will not necessarily know what to do especially if they are aged 10 or below. It is a difficult one especially as many kids now aged 10 or 11 are very grown up but the government have to take some age and 12 is probably a good one to use as the line to be drawn
Robsplat
31st Dec 2014
0
Thanks for voting!
I have to ask the question, WHY does the government have to step in?
The McCanns weren't prosecuted, and their kids were even younger!
carol1963
16th Nov 2014
4
Thanks for voting!
12 should definitely be the minimum age.i have a 14 year old daughter and even now I don't like her to be alone.

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The contest now moves to its final stage with the Conservative Party's 150,000-strong membership...
Would you vote differently in a new EU Referendum? Flag of United Kingdom over the flag of the European Union Vector illustration
An anonymous group of business leaders and academics is mounting a legal challenge to stop the...
Should Jeremy Corbyn Stay or Go? Jeremy-Corbyn-England-900
The results of the EU Referendum have left the country in a state of temporary turmoil. The...