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So is it ok or not to leave a 14 yr old on their own for a few hours ?

(23 Posts)
rookiemater Thu 31-Jul-08 20:15:55

I don't have one myself and it will be a few years before rookietoddler aspires to teenagerdom. But due to a conversation I had with someone, I'm now wondering.

They thought that it was illegal to leave a child under 16 on their own, whereas I thought that it was down to the parents to make a judgement call and I would have thought it would be ok to expect a 14 year old to cope with a few hours in the afternoon on their own in the house. Or am I being completely silly ?

ThatBigGermanPrison Thu 31-Jul-08 20:16:31

They were wrong. End of.

girlandboy Thu 31-Jul-08 20:17:26

I did hear that if the 14 year old got injured etc whilst on their own, then the parents/carers can be prosecuted for neglect. Need to check on that though.

chapstickchick Thu 31-Jul-08 20:17:31

bjesus my 14 yr old would go crazy under constant supervision

nickytwotimes Thu 31-Jul-08 20:17:46

It's perfectly legal.

RBH Thu 31-Jul-08 20:17:46

Thought at 14 you were legally old enough to babysit?

laidbackinengland Thu 31-Jul-08 20:18:06

You are right. Of course it is down to your assesment of the 14 year olds' maturity. I occasionally leave DS1 (age 11) by himself for an hour or so and he is fine.

JonahTakalua Thu 31-Jul-08 20:18:27

Depends on the individual child of course, but I should think most NT 14 year olds would be absolutely fine on their own for a few hours.

There is no law that states an particular age, btw.

RedHead81 Thu 31-Jul-08 20:18:29

it is down to parents discretion - there is no law. It also depends on the 14yo - mature or immature?? Iused to babysit for family when I was 14, but I was a very mature 14yo.

edam Thu 31-Jul-08 20:19:12

Funny how people will insist that something they just made up is the law, isn't it? It is not illegal to leave an under-16 yr old on their own. The law does not specify a set age because clearly each child is different and one ten year old might be very sensible while the 13yo next door might be a dolly daydreamer who would merrily put the chip pan on and forget all about it. It all depends.

The NSPCC does suggest a likely age for most children, I think - can't remember what. But it is only their opinion.

frogs Thu 31-Jul-08 20:19:20

12yo here cross london on public transport to go to school by themselves. So yes, I reckon they'd be okay by themselves for a few hours.
And yes, I occasionally let my 13yo babysit for the younger dc for a couple of hours assuming we're only a few mins away.

There is no law regarding leaving dc alone, btw, though the onus would be on you to prove you hadn't been negligent.

I was carted off to hospital after a bike accident when I'd left a 13yo and an 8yo at home by themselves (they were on an inset day). The police were fine about it.

psychomum5 Thu 31-Jul-08 20:20:05

well......now my older two are at senior school they have no choice but to be alone for a while when I am on school runs with the others. they are 12 and 14. in fact, the 14yo is often on her own for a few hours!

there is no legal age for leaving your child, and AFAIK, there is also no legal age for leaving a teen babysitting younger kiddies....altho that tends to be around 16yrs so maybe that is where they have got confused.

noonki Thu 31-Jul-08 20:21:32

unless there are extenuating circs I think it is awful for a 14 not to be able to be left on their own

mrspnut Thu 31-Jul-08 20:22:25

There is no legal age for leaving a child alone or in charge of another child but if there is no adult supervising then the parent remains liable at all times and in some cases it may be thought to be neglectful.

Basically it's common sense, some kids are ready to be left alone at 10, others still need supervision at 16. Some kids can babysit for their siblings when they reach 12 or so and others can never be left together for their own and other people's safety.

As long as the child is sensible, has access to someone responsible in case of emergency and knows how to recognise an emergency then they should be fine but still start small (a trip to the post box) and work up gradually to leaving them whilst you swan off on holiday for 2 weeks leaving them with a packet of greggs sausage rolls and a 6 pack of fruit shoots. wink grin

FioFio Thu 31-Jul-08 20:23:24

Message withdrawn

LookattheLottie Thu 31-Jul-08 20:24:08

Technically there is no legal age for leaving a child on their own, or at least, within reason iykwim? 14 is generally considered to be the 'acceptable' age to be left alone I believe. This also applies to babysitting as well.

RedHead81 Thu 31-Jul-08 20:24:21

lol at swanning off on holiday [was she being serious emoticon] grin

StealthPolarBear Thu 31-Jul-08 20:25:02

i would be very surpried if a 14yo couldn't be left for a few hours, if not all day!

mrspnut Thu 31-Jul-08 20:27:42

I would wait until my oldest was at least 16 before leaving her to go on holiday but it depends on how vile she is to me in the next year.

I am involved in statutory childrens services and I leave my 11 year old alone at home. I am confident in her abilities and whilst I don't like doing it all day every day there will be a few occasions during the summer holidays where she has to do this.

southeastastra Thu 31-Jul-08 20:28:31

i leave my 14 year old on his own alot, sometimes shock horror he babysits his 7 year old brother

Ripeberry Thu 31-Jul-08 20:36:21

Of course it's ok to leave your DC, they are 14yrs not 4!
Just reminds me of a time when my parents, me and my brother went on holiday and we stayed in a holiday cottage.
On the second night our parents went out for a meal and left me (age 12yrs) in charge of my 9yr old brother.
We stayed up until midnight watching the Amytivile horror film and because we were in a strange house we were petrified!
Especially as it was a windy night and a branch from a rose bush kept squeeking against the window!

rookiemater Thu 31-Jul-08 20:43:05

Thanks everyone, I thought it would be perfectly fine to leave a 14 yr old on their own for a while, and seemed to recall that I had been left alone for periods of time when I was that age, but due to the particular circumstances of my conversation with this person I just wanted to be doubly sure.

Toothache Thu 31-Jul-08 20:48:32

I had my 14 year old neighbour babysitting my 2 kids!

Fair enough her folks were right across the road.

But the 14 year old would have to be pretty off the rails and untrustworthy to not be allowed to be alone in the house for a few hours at a time.

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