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to think these children shouldn't be home alone for a fortnight!

(200 Posts)
mumsnit Tue 29-Jan-13 16:38:22

My friend has started to regularly go away on holiday with her new partner and leaving her two kids at home. She was away 4 times last year and has just gone away again. The eldest is 15 and is doing her GCSE s this year, and the youngest is 12. They are going to school and managing to cook for themselves etc but she hasn't asked anyone to keep an eye on them officially or anything. Her ex p is around sometimes but lives elsewhere with his new family.

I'm really concerned about their welfare. Am I being over the top about this or should I be worried? I have tried to talk to her but she's obsessed with this bloke (who couldn't really care less about her kids sad) and she can't see past his needs.

KenLeeeeeee Tue 29-Jan-13 18:59:28

Hmm, I was left with my brother for a week when we were 16 (me) and 14 (DBro). It didn't seem to be any big deal, but then I wasn't far off my 17th birthday and we did have my grandmother just a few miles away.

Any younger than that, or for a longer period or without another responsible adult within driving distance would not be ok in my book.

Informing the school would be a good start.

NonnoMum Tue 29-Jan-13 19:00:54

She's a friend so I hate the idea of causing trouble for her but I think the older one has too much responsibility and its not fair..

Well, she may be a friend, but more importantly right now she is a negligent parent.

The reason people suggest contacting the school is that school will have a Child Protection teacher who will have responsibility for helping neglected children such as these... They will have contacts with local police and SS.

Do not hesitate to contact the authorities over this. Please do so right now if you haven't already done so.

What if there was a fire? Intruder? Bailiffs coming knocking on the door... Please help these kids right now.

LineRunner Tue 29-Jan-13 19:06:33

But there is a father in the picture.

littlewhitebag Tue 29-Jan-13 19:12:33

abbeynationall It is NOT alright at all. The Police or SS should be informed. They will get the full picture and make sure the children (because that is what they are) are not at risk.

wanderingcloud Tue 29-Jan-13 19:16:12

My Dad used to do this with my and my brothers after my Mum died. I was most hacked off when I had an exam one afternoon and had blooming parents evening for my brother after! I was very mature teenager though and never thought it was strange.

It's the sort of situation I see a lot as a secondary school teacher. Most of the time you find out when you say you'll call home and they proudly tell you there's no-one there to phone anyway. There is little we can do as a school other than keep an eye on them and make sure they are coming to school.

Also, I wonder if it is all that terrible. If the 15yr old is only just turned 15 it's different to an almost 16 it is a bit different. At 16 they could quite legally have a baby of their own to look after which would be a lot harder than caring for a 12yr old sibling.

LineRunner Tue 29-Jan-13 19:19:12

OP, as you know so much you must have talked to her and offered your help? Tell your friend that you think her arrangements need firming up with the DC's father, or with you, or both.

Or tell your friend you think she's a shit mother and report her to SS. But please remember to tell SS that the DC's have a father in the picture.

Put yourself in the father's shoes - wouldn't you want to know? (In fact, how can he not know...)

TalkinPeace2 Tue 29-Jan-13 19:29:27

My initial reaction is YANBU and contact the school who will contact SS if the kids seem unsettled at school.

Then I read a bit more and thought

Its not like the old days.
The kids will have their mobile phones, and the internet, and skype and are at school in the day.
If they wanted something they could get it
and if they felt lonely they can stay with a friend (not like their Mum will find out)

so IMHO, be neighbourly but not parental.

socharlotte Tue 29-Jan-13 19:32:25

Ring the NSPCC for advice.In my eyes this is a clear cut case of neglect.

TalkinPeace2 Tue 29-Jan-13 19:35:00

The NSPCC are a campaigning charity.
They do not set or enforce the law.
This is in now way a clear case of neglect and ANYTHING you do that interferes in their long term family life without rock solid evidence will be incredibly unwelcome.

How do you know they are not skyping with their dad every evening?

LineRunner Tue 29-Jan-13 19:38:09

The NSPCC will just pass your call on to SS. That's what they do.

CuriousMama Tue 29-Jan-13 19:39:51

The father does know by the sounds of it,he pops round.

I laid in a friend to SS and have never regretted it. It was the dh that was the problem but she was also enabling. She and her dcs have never looked back though,none have anything to do with exdh. Plus she's getting remarried. She freely admits she was too weak and would still be there. He was a control freak bullying alcoholic. Hated me because I stood up to him. A different situation to you OP I know, but I'd never have forgiven myself if the dcs had come to harm.

milkwagon Tue 29-Jan-13 19:39:55

This is child neglect and the mother is breaking the law and possibly the father too if he's aware of the situation. This is a very serious matter which police often get called to, and can exercise a police protection order under the children's act to ensure their safety and welfare whilst the emergency duty team from ss is called out.

OP - you are now implicated as you're aware of the situation. You can always make an anonymous report, though you really should of had the balls to sit down with your friend and spell it out in no uncertain terms how irresponsible her actions are before it got this far.

LineRunner Tue 29-Jan-13 19:39:58

TalkingPeace2 Thank you for mentioning that these DCs do have a father.

WeAllHaveWings Tue 29-Jan-13 19:40:06

My dh's mum and dad used to leave dh and his brothers at home alone when he was 15 and his brothers were 13 and 17 (this would have been in the early 1980's).

Once when mil and fil where off on a posh weekend away and older brother was out for the evening, dh decided to do some late night cooking and accidently set the kitchen on fire with the chip pan. Everyone was ok, but fire bridge was called out and kitchen was a write off.

They called dh's grandparents who took them in for the night, but mil and fil still didn't come home shock from their posh weekend even though they were only 30 mins drive away!!!!!

ds(8) is much like his dad so will not be left home alone until he is a least 35 grin

OP, at their ages, a fortnight home alone without sufficient supervision sounds like an accident waiting to happen. I would need to do something, would probably speak to SS anon first and then work out how to approach friend about it.

Passthesaltdear Tue 29-Jan-13 19:42:36

As someone who has professional knowledge, phone SS. 12 is too young to be looked after by another child albeit a bit older

TalkinPeace2 Tue 29-Jan-13 19:48:46

Milkwagon
This is child neglect and the mother is breaking the law and possibly the father too if he's aware of the situation
Which bit of the law are they breaking?

Passthesaltdear
What would SS do? Surely this sort of issue is the reason they are overstretched in dealing with the cases where children are at risk of harm?

ToomuchWaternotWine Tue 29-Jan-13 19:51:00

I would say its time to phone SS and let THEM decide if its an issue to look into or not. Personally I think, given its a fortnight, that yes they will be concerned. Please let us know if they are ok, OP.

cory Tue 29-Jan-13 19:51:01

This is very different from leaving children for a few hours in the daytime or even over-night, which I might be happy to do. Here it is a prolonged period, it's not just about what would happen in an emergency; it's about a whole fortnight where no adult is keeping an eye on them, listening to them, knowing if anything is worrying them. That would concern me more than a child knowing what to do in a sudden emergency. Agree that it is neglect.

dreamingofsun Tue 29-Jan-13 19:53:01

this is what the link i posted earlier says. to me it would suggest that they are too young and she could be imprisoned -

Under the Children and Young Persons Act parents in England and Wales can be prosecuted for wilful neglect if they leave a child unsupervised "in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering or injury to health". Punishment ranges from a fine to 10 years' imprisonment. Similar legislation is in force in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Without legally specified ages to guide them, parents may be left scratching their heads over this grey area but children's charity, the NSPCC, advises that children under 13 should not be left at home alone for long periods and children under 16 should not be put in charge of younger children.

Jux Tue 29-Jan-13 19:53:58

My dd is a very sensible, responsible 13 yo, but I wouldn't do this with her, as there are things in the "what happens if...." category which would completely floor her.

15 OK, if she's sensible. Not sure about 15 yo having responsibility for 12 yo for such a long time, though.

TalkinPeace2 Tue 29-Jan-13 19:58:05

Here is the CPS Guidance on the issue
www.cps.gov.uk/legal/p_to_r/prosecuting_cases_of_child_abuse/#kidnapping
If it is not persistent, and the children have food and warmth and have not come to harm, no offence has been committed.
SS will expend their limited resources where they are truly needed.

OP
Be neighbourly but do not interfere.

NonnoMum Tue 29-Jan-13 20:06:02

Interesting to think that whilst the mother is away shagging new man, DC is not getting support and encouragement for public exams... Unlikely for that child to get 5+ Cs and above at GCSE. What a shame.
Interesting how many of you think it is OK.

mrsbunnylove Tue 29-Jan-13 20:07:04

social services. now.

HappyMummyOfOne Tue 29-Jan-13 20:07:20

I wouldnt hesitate to report to social services, at 12 its far to young to be left for so long. Its not down to elder siblings to take that role as mum fancies a week or two away.

TalkinPeace2 Tue 29-Jan-13 20:10:24

NonnoMum
DC is not getting support and encouragement for public exams
how do you know?

and all of you who want SS involved.
What do you want/expect SS to do?
They will not take the kids into care, no law has been broken.
Its just a wild goose chase waste of resources.

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