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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.

abbeynationall Tue 29-Jan-13 17:47:57

I'm not very sure but as far as am aware a 15 year old is not deemed capable of looking after his/herself plus another child for such periods of time. They may be capable in the eyes of the parent but I don't think the authorities will eagerly agree. They may have food, and warmth but as far as safety and / or security is concerned , those kids are very vulnerable.

Xales Tue 29-Jan-13 17:48:38

If something happened to the 12 year old the 15 year old could feel really shit for a long time.

If something happened to the 15 year who is going to look after the 12 year old?

It is not fair on either of them to be left alone for such long periods.

The 15 year old is presumably studying or starting to study for exams.

The youngest (not sure if boy or girl) may be going through changes which is not fair to dump on the elder for weeks at a time.

The mother sounds selfish.

CuppaSarah Tue 29-Jan-13 17:54:01

I think you're doing the right thing talking to the kids. I say this as someone who had a Mother who did the exact same. Though I didn't have a younger sibling to look after, the time spent on my own in the house was the only consistency I had in my life at that point in time. If I had lost the time with my Mum being away I would have really struggled as she was so difficult to live with.

You said the partner was a bit of a bully, I wonder if their Mum acts differently when the partners around? Even the most lovely person could be different with the influence of a bully. I think you should think about contacting Social Services. These kids are old enough that SS aren't just going to swoop in and steal her kids away, but they could get some much needed intervention. Working with SS isn't nessicarily a negative thing.

LineRunner Tue 29-Jan-13 17:58:57

They have a father. Maybe he could take some parenting responsibility. That's what SS would ask.

abbeynationall Tue 29-Jan-13 18:00:17

Sarah, If it were you would you rather the social services give you a wake up call or a dear friend?

jamdonut Tue 29-Jan-13 18:04:29

I think a fortnight is too long, but one or two nights shouldn''t be a problem.

I left my 15 year old and 12 year old for 36 hours overnight, while me and Dh went by train to a concert in London,stayed overnight and came back the following afternoon ,getting home early evening. They had a long check list stuck to the front door of things to remember to do and telephone numbers and details of where we were staying,and who to go to in an emergency. Plus we texted often and called them.
They made breakfast and lunches and ordered pizza for teatime. They are eminently sensible, otherwise I would not have been happy to go.They even remembered to wash up!!
They survived,and are more self sufficient for the experience.

OneWaySystemBlues Tue 29-Jan-13 18:13:08

According to this NSPCC information booklet, "children under the age of 16 should not be left alone over night". So leaving them for 2 weeks is definitely not on and could get her into trouble. I'm sure I've seen news stories where a woman went on holiday abroad and left her under 16s at home alone and it ended up with her prosecuted.

Someone under 16 cannot be legally responsible if anything happens when they're away. The responsibility is entirely on the parents.

CuppaSarah Tue 29-Jan-13 18:13:23

I think that really depends on alot of factors abbeynationall. It depends on how good of a friend they are, but more than anything it depends on what the situation at home really is like.

Anyone would deffinatly prefer a friend to give them a kick up the arse, but unfortunatly thats not always enough. While the situation could be as simple as they get left home alone alot, but they manage fine and when mum and partner are around thats fine too. But behind closed doors you don't really know whats going on. I'd rather plan for the worst case when theres childrens welfares at stake. Chances are theres no more issues than any other family, but it's not always worth that tiny risk.

It's deffinatly a really difficult situation to know how to handle, there's no real right or wrong answers are there?

valiumredhead Tue 29-Jan-13 18:14:57

God, I used to babysit over night every weekend for 4 kids when I was 14.

WorraLiberty Tue 29-Jan-13 18:18:47

OneWaySystemBlues Those are guidelines and not the law.

LineRunner Tue 29-Jan-13 18:20:32

Exactly, Worra. The NSPCC isn't setting the law. It just says stuff.

WorraLiberty Tue 29-Jan-13 18:22:35

I'm starting to think MN should put a banner across the top of the page LR, as this misconception just never goes away grin

I still think 2 weeks is far too long though.

abbeynationall Tue 29-Jan-13 18:24:11

You are right Sarah. Something could happen to them and then you'll probably never forgive yourself for not alerting the authorities but yet again the Mother could be confident of her children's abilities just like lots of women are/ have throughout time without anything tragic happening. But in this day and age where creeps and all sorts are roaming the streets how does she do it coz I can't.

LineRunner Tue 29-Jan-13 18:26:37

Yeah, two weeks is too long without regular input from the father or another adult.

If SS are contacted they will try to find out who these adults are. They'll want the father or grandparents to give some guarantees, or for the mother to say what her arrangements are. The last thing SS will do is try to organise foster care.

neolara Tue 29-Jan-13 18:35:22

Worra - Can I ask, (genuine question) why do you think she is not breaking the law by leaving a 12 year old to be cared for by an under 16 for 2 weeks. I don't know what the law says, but I'd assume that this was not legal.

IceNoSlice Tue 29-Jan-13 18:36:29

Poor kids sad

Pigsmummy Tue 29-Jan-13 18:37:07

I was left alone for a week aged 14, nothing bad happened but I really dont feel loved by my parents tbh

littlewhitebag Tue 29-Jan-13 18:37:39

Call SS or the Police and they will pop in and check up on what is going on. The 15 year old should not have the responsibility of caring for a 12 year old and 2 weeks away is certainly neglectful. I am a SW and i know this will be looked into.

Pigsmummy Tue 29-Jan-13 18:41:39

Invite them around to yours for dinner and have a chat? When I was home alone (so my Dad could holiday in Greece) I would have taken up the offer of dinner out. You will see how they are coping?

littlewhitebag Tue 29-Jan-13 18:44:25

The point isn't whether or not they are coping - they are probably fine. The point is that they might be considered abandoned as the parents are not taking responsibility for their care and welfare and have left them alone for a very long period.

phantomnamechanger Tue 29-Jan-13 18:51:08

Please tell someone.
They are too young to be left for that long no matter how independent and sensible they are. there are too many "what ifs"

This is not the same as them being left for a night, or even a weekend. I think the authorities would take it very seriously.

OneWaySystemBlues Tue 29-Jan-13 18:52:19

I understand that they are guidelines and not the law. But I know that legally if you're under 16 you cannot be held responsible if something happens to someone in your charge. Which is why one of the recommendations is that baby sitters should be over 16 as if you leave your kids in the charge of someone under 16 and they harm them, then you as parents are still legally responsible. See this website, which states, "If someone under 16 is looking after a child, the parent or guardian, and not the babysitter, remain legally responsible for the child's safety."

phantomnamechanger Tue 29-Jan-13 18:53:23

I'm also not sure how wise it is to invite them round to yours without a parent's consent - you might find yourself accused of kidnap or grooming!! stranger things have happened.

pointythings Tue 29-Jan-13 18:54:46

Short periods for the 15 yo is probably ok. 15 yo in charge of a 12 yo - not ok. Longer than 4-5 days max for the 15 yo - not ok.

The main problem for me is the mum's attitude - this is not about her giving her DCs an opportunity for independence, this is about her selfish wants. That makes it immoral IMO.

abbeynationall Tue 29-Jan-13 18:56:32

Whitebag, is that not too drastic a step? The police? Indeed this might not be an ideal situation but if the real concern here was children's welfare, What is wrong with OP kindly popping in to check on them every now and then till the mother gets back? Is that really the best thing to do in this situation?- call the police?

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