The key is to build time alone gradually. You could start by leaving your child at home while you dodge to buy groceries and leave them alone for an hour after school. Teenagers, on the other hand, might ask you to leave them home alone. This is a normal part of adolescence, when young people are trying to feel more independent. With this question, “At what age can you leave a child alone at home” is a question that only you as a parent can answer. If you think your child is mature enough and your home has everything your child needs while you`re outside, it would be legally acceptable to leave them alone at home. Professor Green says some hazards, such as physical safety risks (e.g., falls, burns, and electric shocks) or extraneous hazards (someone entering the house while a child is unattended) can be mitigated by making sure your child understands rules, safety plans, and emergency procedures. These laws are more about the responsibilities of parents or guardians. For example, the federal Family Law states that parents or guardians must ensure the safety and supervision of children while providing them with food, clothing and shelter. Most states follow similar laws. Giving children unsupervised time can be a little intimidating, but Jason says being left home alone is part of developing independence.
Sometimes we have no choice but to leave our children alone at home. Not all families can afford to place their children in afternoon care and not all have flexible working arrangements. And there are benefits to leaving mature teens and children alone. It allows your children a growing sense of independence, privacy, and personal space, especially if you have a large family. “If you know they`re going home with a friend and it`s age-appropriate, that`s one thing. I don`t think this legislation is designed to affect those situations,” she said. After all this, child protection laws leave a lot of room for interpretation. The Queensland Penal Code even states that “whether the timing [during which the child is left alone] is inappropriate depends on all relevant circumstances”. Each case will be different and factors such as the child`s degree of maturity and the safety of the environment must be taken into account. Also, have a plan on what to do if your child loses their key or comes home and finds the door open.
NSW Department of Communities and Justice – Leaving children home alone They also recommend doing a security check of your home before leaving your children home alone and be sure to check smoke detectors and window locks. While deciding when and if to leave your children at home can be a difficult decision, if they`re ready, it can offer great benefits, Professor Green says. Since there is no definitive minimum age law – outside of Queensland that sets 12 – parents rely on the judgment of parents to ensure that a child is safe and their needs are met, the two legal requirements for leaving a child unsupervised by an adult. The overwhelming consensus of parents I spoke to was that the minimum age to leave children at home is 10. “Think about factors like their maturity, context [for example, length or ability to reach you] and comfort with being left alone,” says Professor Green. Kidsafe Victoria advocates that children should never be left unattended in cars, but President Erica Edmands said laws and penalties alone would not change common practices among parents. She said parents calculated the risks of leaving their children alone, and many did it anyway. This includes thinking about whether your child could handle it if something happened while you were away or if you couldn`t come back. For example, you might feel comfortable leaving your teen child alone for half an hour because they follow household safety rules and know where to turn in an emergency. But it`s never safe to leave a baby or toddler alone at home.
You can better judge when your child is ready to be left home alone. It`s not just about your child`s age – their maturity is also important. For example, you might feel safe leaving a 12-year-old who is very responsible, but very worried about a 15-year-old who takes a lot of risks. Similar guidelines are provided by organizations in other countries. The UK`s National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children points out that most children under 12 are not mature enough to be left alone and that children under 16 cannot be left alone overnight. The U.S. agencies` guidelines go even further, as they also mention which parts of the day children can be left alone safely. If your children are over 18, you can legally leave them unattended. After all, they are full-fledged adults in the eyes of the law. They can even take care of their younger siblings if the situation calls for it. “There`s a key hidden under a rock so they can let themselves in, and I`m home at 4:15 in the morning, so they`re only alone for about half an hour.” Here are some questions you can ask yourself when deciding to leave your child home alone: If you ask “at what age can a child be left home alone with a babysitter,” you will get the same answer as before.