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Leaving kids on their own?

(75 Posts)
cheifbrody Tue 11-Nov-14 07:48:39

I know this has been done to death on here, but something that was said on morning tv yesterday made me think.

What was said is that every child is different and therefore the parent should judge the age when they are ready for it. So no legal age can be made.
That seems fair enough.

Then I thought but the legal age to have sex is 16. That is the law, but some may be ready and mature at 15yrs and some not ready or mature enough at 18yrs.

But even if you are not mature enough at 18yrs it is ok to do it.

So yes I think an age should be set, and then started to think ''what age though''.

Everybody accepts the 16 rule for sex because its LAW.

If we had an age limit for leaving kids at home that would just be it, some people would ignore it [as people do] but at least it would be clear.

redexpat Tue 11-Nov-14 07:54:12

I wouldmt say people accept the age of consent. Id say half of my class were sexually active before they were 16. Being aware of and accepting are two different things.

In denmark children arent allowed to be left home alone until they are 10, but childcare is massively subsidised and every school has an after and preschool club.

NCIS Tue 11-Nov-14 07:54:57

Yes but it would criminalise parents whose children are perfectly safe. Your example doesn't really work as many,many people have sex under 16, it's accepted and prosecutions do not routinely occur providing it's between participants of a similar age.

It is rare for a 15 year old to be criminalised for having sex or for their partners to be providing there's not a huge age gap.

PourquoiTuGachesTaVie Tue 11-Nov-14 08:04:07

Secondary school age is a reasonable starting point for most children imo. I got my own key and mobile phone at 11 because I started high school. It's the age they're likely to need to get themselves to and from school on their own, so being responsible enough to stay in the house on their own too isn't too far from that.

DaisyFlowerChain Tue 11-Nov-14 08:08:11

I'd say secondary starting age too.

As for people abiding to the age of consent at 16, unless you live in a sheltered rural area then most don't. Children from as young as 12 become parents themselves and lots on MN admit to being under 16.

InMySpareTime Tue 11-Nov-14 08:15:40

It also depends what you count as leaving children on their own. With my DCs I started leaving them for short periods of time, then built up to longer ones. Leaving DCs on their own is a process, and putting an arbitrary age boundary on that process could mean vital steps are left out.

cheifbrody Tue 11-Nov-14 08:50:30

This did make me chuckle

As for people abiding to the age of consent at 16, unless you live in a sheltered rural area then most don't.

Its worse in these areas as there is nothing else to do.....

I think prob about 12/13 but I have no intention of not being here when he leaves for school or here when he comes home, but I know I am lucky.

diddl Tue 11-Nov-14 08:57:46

Is this in reference to the woman who has a criminal record(?) due to leaving a young child alone?

Anyone know the circs of that?

How was it discovered?

sickntiredtoo Tue 11-Nov-14 09:02:19

Too many variables to legislate I think. what is leaving alone? Going down the garden. going next door,the corner shop, the supermarket, to work,on holiday?

MrTumblesBavarianFanbase Tue 11-Nov-14 09:05:27

In most parts of the world - including most of Europe - children get themselves to school and back much, much younger than age 11 - here in Germany they do so from age 6. Our community police officer actually gave a talk during which he strongly discouraged driving or walking children to school after the first couple of weeks, and school do not officiually allow parents to park in their tiny car park to pick up or drop off children under normal circumstances (there is no on street parking aside from the bus stop). Does this mean children are ready to be left alone earlier, as being alone is not too different from getting to and from school?

I think this is quite an emotive subject, but suspect there is room for a law - in my opinion 12 is ridiculously late though, if this law applies to leaving kids at home for even a few moments.

The age of consent is a false comparising - you either have sex, or you don't - there are not different ages of consent for different sex acts depending on the perceived risk of each... Leaving a child for 10 mins to walk down the road to the post box is obviously not the same as leaving them all day to go to work by bus and train in a town a 45 minute commute away (so that you cannot get back quickly). In my opinion it is fine to leave an 8 year old, for example, to do the first, but not the second.

If an age is to be set, the law will either need to have lots of clauses (8 years old in x circumstances, 10 in y circumstances, 12 in z circumstances, but 16 for overnight...) be unrealistically over protective (you can't leave a 10 year old for 10 mins, really? hmm or give cate blanche to leagally leave children who don't want to be left for long periods (a 12, or even 14 year old might hate and struggle with being left for 14 hours a day in school holidays with parents uncontactable and no support network set up - but if its a "law" that this is fine, can be told to lump it)

MrTumblesBavarianFanbase Tue 11-Nov-14 09:06:32

* a false comparison, I meant to say...

misscph1973 Tue 11-Nov-14 09:51:39

MrTumble, good to hear that Germany hasn't become completely paranoid and let kids develop independence! What astonishes me is that kids in the UK are often totally unrestricted when it comes to tv and the internet, but they are not allowed to walk to school alone or be alone in their own home.

I really don't think that it should be neccessary to set a legal age for stopping constant adult supervision. I do think that it would be great if parents were encouraged to develop their childrens independence rather than instill paranoia and fear in them by never leaving them alone.

I'm not British, and I walked to school from age 6 back in the 70s. I wish my DCs could do the same, but traffic to school is very dense so my 9 year old DD only walks to school or back home once or twice a week, if she has an after school club. Also I am worried about getting reported for neglect by some "good samaritan" - which is so much more likely to happen than anything bad happening to my DCs.

TrendStopper Tue 11-Nov-14 10:02:03

I have only just started leaving my 10 yr old in the house if I am popping to a neighbours or to the shop 5 min walk away. She knows how to use the house phone and knows not to answer the door to anyone.

My neighbour has been leaving her son since he was about 8 yrs old. She can be gone for more than a couple of hours. He used to get to go freely in & out of the house, announcing to the other kids on the street that he was home alone.

raltheraffe Tue 11-Nov-14 10:06:59

I was left alone at either 6 or 7 and started a house fire. I survived it (obviously) but got a massive rollicking when my mum got home as the kitchen had been destroyed and it cost parents a lot to replace it.

ChickenMe Tue 11-Nov-14 10:08:51

Kids as young as seven walk to school around here (quietish large village). If you're in London it must be hard not to be terrified. Roads in particular are worrying. When I was small, growing up in a London suburb in the 80s there were fewer cars and less fear of strangers. I was allowed out alone at 8 but people I know with kids in that suburb now would never let an 8 year old out alone.

raltheraffe Tue 11-Nov-14 10:15:12

Why was there less fear of strangers though? There were paedos back then, just as there are now.

claraschu Tue 11-Nov-14 10:16:58

The problem is that the parents of a 10 year old who is home alone for 10 minutes could be criminalised if they have an officious or vindictive neighbour. No one is going to drag the parents of a 15 year old to court if the 15 year old has sex in the back of a car after a party.

misscph1973 Tue 11-Nov-14 10:27:38

raltheraffe there is more fear of strangers now because of the media. There are relatively few cases of abduction etc but they are so publicised that the public goes into mass hysteria. It's like plan crashes - statistically there are very few of them, but unline car accidents they make the deadline more often. Abduction cases make it into the news, but a broken leg doesn't.

claraschu, exactly my point. It's the reporting culture that is problematic. Some people have nothing better to do and it's so much easier to be appalled at other people than looking in the mirror.

MrTumblesBavarianFanbase Tue 11-Nov-14 10:28:52

More important than age is probably circumstance - obviously children need to have neighbors whom they know and trust close by for help, need to have done fire drills with parents, need to know how to use the house phone to cal parent on mobile (and parent needs to be in a position to answer), also needs to know how to acess other numbers to call (on speeddial) if for some reason parent doesn't answer... But seriously, a child doesn't need to be 10 to know how to use the house phone - my kids have been calling their own friends on speaker to arrange play from about 5, and to ask about homework from 6...

I happily leave my 9 year old at home while I take and fetch her brothers to/ from places within a 4 km drive, and have started leaving my 7 year old when I take the 9 year old if they want to be left - they always have the option to come too. Otherwise they would be in and out of the car against their will all day long, sometimes for 5 or 6 short journies like their 3 year old brother is, poor child Sometimes the child at home will call me - but invariably only to ask if they can play on their nintendo, or have a biscuit, or to say one of their friends just phoned and are they allowed to go to that friend's house after I get home etc. Where I live in rural Germany, this is absolutely normal, so I am lucky to know that whatever MN thinks, nobody locally will bat an eyelid or call SS or the police grin

diddl Tue 11-Nov-14 10:50:34

There's def no one size fits all!

I'd have trusted my son more than my daughter, that's for sure.

There's an article in the mail online about it.

One woman left her 6yr old, was gone longer than intended & her daughter wasn't there when she got back!


Made me think, should kids at least be locked in so that they don't wonder off/answer the door?

Or is that too much of a risk?
Or. if they can't be trusted to stay put/get out in an emergency, that shouldn't be left?

raltheraffe-how did you start the fire?

Love how you got a bollocking.

Did you parents not think that perhaps they shouldn't have left you?

fedupbutfine Tue 11-Nov-14 10:55:26

so as a single working parent, what do you propose I do with my 12 year old? There is no child for him now he's in year 7. Are you going to provide me with childcare and pay for it so that he isn't home alone after school?

raltheraffe Tue 11-Nov-14 10:56:06

I do not remember the fire personally.

According to my mum I was going through a phase where I was interested in planets orbiting the sun and comets.

I decided to make several hot planets eg Mars or comets from scrumpled up paper, set fire to them with matches from the cupboard and throw them around the kitchen. I was trying to recreate planetary motion.

raltheraffe Tue 11-Nov-14 10:58:29

My mum minimised the story when I got older, explaining she only popped out to the post office for 5 minutes. However the post office was a 20 minute walk there and back and she did not have a car.
She also let me catch the bus home from school age 6 and once a guy asked me to get in his car but I refused.

diddl Tue 11-Nov-14 10:59:34

I shouldn't have laughed, ralt, but OMG, that's just the sort of thing that my daughter would have done.

I suppose your parents thought that you should have known better?

Tricky, isn't it?

I'd be blaming myself as a parent & thanking goodness that you were OK.

raltheraffe Tue 11-Nov-14 11:01:05

My parents knew what I was like. They had to confiscate my chemistry set as I was dangerous with it, so I should have not been left alone.

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