Is it ok to leave a 4 year old at home while you do the school run? AIBU?!

(148 Posts)
3MonthMaid Tue 14-May-13 08:20:33

Ok so I don't want to sound judgey, but I am genuinely concerned about this. My neighbour has started leaving her 4 year old DD at home in the flat whilst she collects her older son from school.

We live very close to school, but as its a huge school it can easily take half an hour at times. The classes are late coming out, the teacher wants a word etc etc.

It should be added that the little girl in question is pretty feisty. I've seen her climb up the fridge, run herself baths, open the front door etc.

I'm just concerned- on the other hand I'm wondering if its me being too over cautious? My DD is a few years older and I wouldn't do it...

Lavenderandlimes Tue 14-May-13 20:30:33

Refer to social services

Lavenderandlimes Tue 14-May-13 20:31:30

Refer to social services

VerySmallSqueak Tue 14-May-13 20:34:12

I think I would speak with her and see what her reaction is.
I would contact SS then if needed.This definitely needs acting on.

Whatever happens the 4 year old cannot continue to be left alone like this.

ouryve Tue 14-May-13 20:35:33

just no. not even for 5 minutes, never mind half an hour.

ValiumQueen Tue 14-May-13 20:45:45

Hula, in my recent experience, the school refused to contact Social Services when I reported concerns about two of their (sibling) pupils. I was told I needed to contact them myself as the school could not anonymously report concerns expressed by another parent.

I think it is appropriate to report concerns directly in this case, and SS will contact the School as a matter of course.

There will likely be different policies in different areas, even though we should all be working together to protect children.

In my work I am expected to report any concerns regardless of who tells me information.

jellybeans Tue 14-May-13 21:10:42

No way. I don't let my 4 YO out of sight as he too is a climber etc. I wouldn't give him a choice either about the school run. All of my DC have had to be dragged come on school runs, swimming, brownies run etc.

Remotecontrolduck Tue 14-May-13 22:11:39

I'm very lax but not ok at 4, at all.

They simply won't be able to understand not to answer the door, wander off, panic as mum isn't there, not play with the cooker etc.

So, so many things wrong with this.

SageYourResoluteOracle Tue 14-May-13 22:50:52

Last year there was a knock on my door and it was the neighbour's wee one. He was four at the time and he'd been left alone. I took him inside mine as had DD with me (I know his family to speak to) I didn't have a number for child's parents so I had no choice but to call the non emergency police number. Poor thing was at mine for 40 minutes before dad turned up but the police used cc TV to ascertain what time dad had actually left our building (we live in flats). He'd been left for quite a lot longer than 40 minutes. AFAIK, the dad was actually cautioned. Things have been helluva awkward with the family but I'd do it again if I had to. Thank god it was my door he knocked on. Thank god he didn't get out into the grounds and then the road. . . I work with children so I could also have been in hot water had I done nothing.

OP- please call social services. It sounds as if the lady is aware that what's she's doing isn't good. I think that people's primary concern should be child welfare and not worry over ramifications in terms of what others may think, hard though that may be.

Gosh, and I'm pretty lax, left DS2 at 10 with DS3, 7 for 20 mins alone at home. But a pre schooler! shock

flanbase Wed 15-May-13 00:09:24

A 4yr old should be left alone at home. From what you say the child isn't being properly parented and this needs to be signalled to the authorities right away.

BegoniaBampot Wed 15-May-13 00:11:30

To me a four yr old is a baby. I'd have to seriously consider reporting this and I hate interfering. have just started leaving my sensible 10 yr old alone a few times for this amount of time.

thanksamillion Wed 15-May-13 08:08:10

Definitely not. Just for some perspective, I do live in E Europe and it wouldn't be that unusual for someone to leave a 4yo for a while by themselves here. However, I live in the countryside where everyone looks out for/knows everyone and there is very little traffic and people don't have much stuff in their houses. Even here attitudes are changing and people are recognising that it isn't really acceptable.

Can you try and speak to her again and spell out the consequences. Even if she would do this in her home country it isn't acceptable in the UK.

miffybun73 Wed 15-May-13 10:40:22

No way, even if it was only 5 minutes. YANBU.

sarahtigh Wed 15-May-13 10:59:45

schools dentists doctors etc, can't do anonymous reporting , members of public can, so that is why school can't report hearsay

a 4 year old is too young to leave but in my opinion a 4 year old is not a baby , my DD is almost 3.5 and I would consider she has been a little girl rather than baby since just before she was three when she was speaking fairly fluently, etc

valiumredhead Wed 15-May-13 11:23:05

The schools CAN report to SS and have a duty of care to do so. Any school that says it can't is not doing its job properly.

They CAN report anon, they can say that a 'parents at their school has raised concerns about another parent.'

fuzzpig Wed 15-May-13 11:34:23

No way, of course it's not ok.

It's just so LAZY even before you consider any danger! Having to juggle younger kids is a normal part of having more than one child. You can't just opt out and take daft risks instead angry

RambleOn Wed 15-May-13 11:49:50

In my case, the lazier option is to take my 4yo with me. The alternative of leaving him behind would result in hours of cleaning/mopping up water/refilling cupboards etcsmile

CocktailQueen Wed 15-May-13 11:52:38

God. No. I've only just started leaving my 9yo when I have to.

mummy1973 Wed 29-May-13 11:37:09

OP...what did you do? Been on my mind this one.

littlewhitebag Wed 29-May-13 12:21:02

It is not illegal to lave a child alone but the parent will be responsible if anything should happen. 4 is far too young to be left alone for any length of time at all. Report to SS ( i am a SW and this would be looked into). Or call the police and let them know she is on her own. They can act more quickly. However the speed of them getting there will depend on what else they are doing at that time.

SuburbanRhonda Wed 29-May-13 12:55:44

valium we had a situation at school where a neighbour of one of our parents anonymously reported a whole list of concerns around neglect to us, regarding a child at our school. The head teacher tried in vain to get him to phone SS himself, but he refused.

We were really torn as, although we had concerns ourselves, we were monitoring them as they were fairly low level.

In the end, the HT asked me to phone SS. They went round to interview dad, but he denied everything, and from then on he refused to engage with anyone in school except his child's class teacher. SS closed the case.

Mutley77 Wed 29-May-13 13:42:20

valium - schools could report hearsay but it wouldn't be taken very seriously by SS. Hence why they will be asking the concerned parent to report themselves (this would be a much clearer path of referral as the parent can explain and answer any further questions that SS may ask - therefore more likely to get a better outcome for the child).

3 monthmaid - I would ring the police when the child is home alone as littlewhitebag has suggested, SS would then have clear evidence - rather than going round saying "someone told us you leave your child alone" and neighbour responding "no I don't".

atrcts Wed 29-May-13 23:14:50

The law on leaving your child alone:

https://www.gov.uk/law-on-leaving-your-child-home-alone

The law doesn’t say an age when you can leave a child on their own, but it’s an offence to leave a child alone if it places them at risk.
Use your judgement on how mature your child is before you decide to leave them alone.

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) says:

children under 12 are rarely mature enough to be left alone for a long period of time
children under 16 shouldn’t be left alone overnight
babies, toddlers and very young children should never be left alone

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