to wonder how with all the laws now a days there is still no law for what age a child can be left at home?

(71 Posts)
Howsaboutthat Wed 17-Apr-13 21:32:30

You may be sensible and mature and just limit yourself to a glass of wine, but law states you cannot buy a drink until you are 18.

You may be sensible and mature and use precautions, but law states you cannot have sex until you are 16.

You may be able to swim 5,000 metres but you can't go in a pool at 7 without an adult, you may sink like a lead balloon but as long as you have had your 8 birthday you can go swimming on your own.

11 year olds are not allowed to leave a holiday care club unless they are signed out by an adult, but there is no law stopping that same 11 year old not being put in holiday care club and being left at home alone.

AIBU to think that some of the age laws are farcical (I haven't listed all the ones I disagree with here), but to have them while there is no law as to what age a child can be left at home (because parents are deemed in this one and only situation capable of knowing their own child) seems mad?

ParadiseChick Wed 17-Apr-13 21:34:37

I think yabu and some of what you listed aren't laws, just places procedures.

seeker Wed 17-Apr-13 21:36:11

Most of them aren't laws.

MsVestibule Wed 17-Apr-13 21:36:18

I agree! It all seems so random and arbitrary. I like to think I'll know how old my DC can be before I can leave them by themselves, but don't want the worry that I could be prosecuted because somebody else disagrees.

Sirzy Wed 17-Apr-13 21:37:14

Swimming pools and clubs is down to each places own rules.

Sex and alcohol need to be regulated for obvious reasons - doesn't mean people follow the rules but it provides protection for the young people.

Leaving a child home alone has many more variables. How long are they going to be alone for? how many children? how old are they? how mature are they? etc etc. You can't do a one size fits all

EmmaGellerGreen Wed 17-Apr-13 21:37:42

Because not all children are the same?

pointythings Wed 17-Apr-13 21:38:08

Actually I like the idea that there is still one area in which parents are expected to make those judgement calls. OK, so there are some crap parents around, but most of us know our DCs and can make this decision. And we should be allowed to get on with it.

I don't think its mad at all.

Just now you can leave a child at home, but you could be charged with neglect or, should something happen to the child, a multitude of other things.

If they change the law to, say, 11, then that will give parents free reign to bugger off for any length of time because its within the law and nothing could be done about it.

sarahtigh Wed 17-Apr-13 21:40:46

there are very few laws re ages in children most are ages of responsibility

criminal 10/12 depending on which part of UK
most other things tobacco marriage (with parental consent) age 16,
the rest 18
having to be in education by term after 5th birthday
in scotland can't smack under 3 years old
a very few things are 21 like being on medical/dental register

regarding children being left alone there are no laws only guidelines, various bodies have their own rules but they are not laws and there is no civil/criminal penalty for breaking them

A child above the age of 5 can legally drink alcohol, they just can't buy it (so the amount they consume is moderated by a presumably responsible adult).

There isn't a legal age to leave a child because it isn't something that can be defined by age. A sensible 9 year old could be trusted to sit at home alone safely, an immature or SN 15 year old may not be safe to be left.

However, as a parent, you are responsible for anything that happens to an under 16 year old child, so if they did come to harm while they were home alone you would be held accountable.

picnicbasketcase Wed 17-Apr-13 21:42:54

It is weird that all 16 year olds are deemed old enough for sex or 18 year olds old enough to drink when some might still be far too immature to deal with it. The thing is, what age could they possibly assign as the one at which a child can be left alone? Ten, twelve, fourteen - some children are still very silly and not sensible enough to be trusted at any of those ages. Surely it's better for a parent who hopefully really knows their child to decide when they can trust them enough than an arbitrary age being decided upon by someone else.

Howsaboutthat Wed 17-Apr-13 21:43:11

But why is it deemed that we can't we make the same decision on other aspects of the children's lives - e.g. we know if our child is going to be upset by a film, or affected by a game. But there are ages put on them.

may not be safe to leave

Howsaboutthat Wed 17-Apr-13 21:44:51

Sorry cross posted with 3 last posters.

JockTamsonsBairns Wed 17-Apr-13 21:47:00

Most of what you have listed are not laws though. The first one, about having an alcoholic drink, is a grey area for a start. You can't buy a drink, no, but you can consume one - drinking laws are complex in this country, and each one is open to interpretation. It's not black and white.

On a personal note, I have a 14yo Dd, and had no issue leaving her home alone when she was 11 - perfectly sensible girl, had a mobile phone, and neighbours to call on if things became unmanageable (they never did).

I can't figure out why you would want a law to tell us when to do what with our older children?

We can make decisions about whether to let our children play certain games or watch certain films (within reason), they aren't allowed to buy them though, there is a difference.

The ages on games and films only apply to a person under that age buying them. A 10 year old could watch a 15 rated film at home without breaking a law.

AuntieStella Wed 17-Apr-13 21:54:22

I think film classifications should stay because I have a very low gore threshhold and would not be able to watch through the things I would need to vet for my teen!

Also, if a law is to be respected, it must be capable of being enforced. How could that be done without home surveillance? If children are harmed or badly neglected, it's already a crime.

pointythings Wed 17-Apr-13 21:57:06

But why is it deemed that we can't we make the same decision on other aspects of the children's lives - e.g. we know if our child is going to be upset by a film, or affected by a game. But there are ages put on them.

As pointed out, the age ratings are for buying them - as parents we still have the discretion as to whether or not we let our DCs watch them. Whether all of us exercise this is another thread entirely, but it's still up to us as parents. DH and I won't let my DD1 watch films for which she meets the age criteria (she's 12) because I know they will upset her and cause her nightmares, because we are her parents and we know her. At the same time we accept that another child, possibly younger, will not be at all affected by this same film.

We should take every bit of parental discretion we are allowed and use it.

Howsaboutthat Wed 17-Apr-13 21:57:59

Is it only cinemas own policy then that means you can't take a 13 year old to a 15?

I hadn't realised that swimming, childcare etc were just policies. That makes me more cross about it, as the council run places are just creating rules that are not laws.

maddening Wed 17-Apr-13 21:58:30

We saw a 7/8 yr old max riding in the back of a motorbike on a v fast main road- the helmet was massive on him. We thought it must be illegal and looked it up and apparently absolutely fine as he could reach foot pegs. We thought considering the laws re child seats in cars it was quite shocking that motorcycles can have a v young passenger legally.

ivykaty44 Wed 17-Apr-13 22:05:02

you can get married at 16 but you will still have to be in part time education, though you will not be allowed to vote, but you can join the army and be sent to war, fire a gun - but you are not old enough to own your own gun as you are to young.....

exoticfruits Wed 17-Apr-13 22:06:16

I don't think there should be an age to leave DCs alone at home - it stops parents thinking for themselves. It depends on so many things, the maturity of the DC, where you live, among other things.

With things like holiday clubs then the parents are leaving other adults to look after their children for the day, those adults aren't able to make the decisions that parents are.

They can't let a child sign themselves out, how would they know the child is going where they are supposed to? Who would be to blame if a child signed themselves out and went into town shoplifting, or got kidnapped on the way home? No business would get insurance if they didn't have strict policies in place for this kind of thing.

You legally can't take a 13yo in to watch a 15 rated film the same as legally you couldn't take a 16yo out for a pint, but you could let a 13yo watch a 15 rated film at home or let a 16yo have a pint at home.

IneedAsockamnesty Wed 17-Apr-13 22:39:03

The problem is if you set a law for when its ok, for arguments sake lets say 5 then you end up with a heap of 5 yo being left home alone because fools think that its ok because its not against the law.

As it is we do have rules and laws that have overlap I.e child protection stuff and neglect but sadly they do tend to be very much dependant on your postcode or income bracket and tend to be dependant on idiots who leave under 5's alone being the type that comes to the attention of service providers rather than just being dependant on being piss poor parents.

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