With all of the lockdowns, home-schooling and closures of childcare facilities, many parents have had to bridge the childcare gap by taking leave and furlough.
Now that things are returning to the ‘new’ normal, we know that many parents may not have the leave options they usually would for the long school summer holidays in Northern Ireland.
Between work, appointments and other family commitments, many parents will face a decision of whether to leave their child home alone during the summer holidays at some point.
And, as children get older, it’s common for them to want more freedom and learn to be independent.
It is an important part of growing up, but there can be a lot to think about for parents when it comes to allowing their child to go out alone.
The NSPCC has new resources that aim to provide families with helpful advice to keep their children safe.
Our ‘Home or Out Alone’ campaign aims to help parents make the right decision about leaving their children at home safely or letting them leave the house unsupervised, a tricky decision for many to make that will differ from child to child.
Our new guide is designed to reduce any worry by helping parents make the right decision for them and their child.
The new guide includes the following advice:
• Things to think about before parents decide if their children are ready to be independent or not – this includes if they’re old enough, whether they can deal with the risks and how they feel about being left alone
• Checklists to help keep children safe when others are not around including making sure they have a parent or carer’s number when home alone
• Advice for leaving children under another trusted adult’s supervision
• Extra support to help parents make decisions
• There’s no legal age a child can be left home alone as every child matures differently, but it’s against the law to leave a child alone if it puts them at risk. A child who doesn’t feel comfortable shouldn’t be left alone.
The campaign also gives advice to parents and carers on issues surrounding safety, boundaries and building trust.
Remember, every child will be different, so it’s important that you have the conversation with your own child and work together to keep them safe.
For advice and help deciding if your child can stay home or go out alone, visit www.nspcc.org.uk/safe-alone
The NSPCC’s helpline is available for advice and support on 0808 800 5000 or via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bronagh Muldoon, Head of Local Services for NSPCC Northern Ireland.