I was watching a segment on “Good Morning Britain,” which was discussing leaving your child home alone. The guest was arguing that leaving your child alone was a good way to learn independence. She openly admitted that she had left her child watching TV at the age of five to go to the shop which was just across the road. Her child is ten now and she said that she still on occasion leaves him home alone for a few hours when he doesn’t want to accompany her for dining out etc. The segment went on to discuss the fact that some parents can’t afford childcare and this was part of why children are left home alone. One of the hosts, Piers Morgan then went on to say that if you can’t afford childcare, you shouldn’t have children. I found his comment outrageous. Parents get accused of scrounging off the state for having children and not working, yet when they do manage to get a job but unfortunately a low paid one, people like him slam them for not being able to pay out most of their wages on childcare costs. Not all of us are lucky enough to land a high paid job and he even thought the age of ten was too young to be left alone. In my child’s primary school, they actually encourage year six children (10-11) to make their own way to school, and what of secondary school? Some parents with younger children have to get them to school, leaving their older sibling to make their own way to their secondary school. Are we supposed to be in two places at once or even hiring someone to take our 12 year old to school?
I admit that I would never leave young children home alone. I won’t even allow my ten year old to make her own way to school but even though I don’t like it, when they reach secondary school age they do have to make their own way to school especially now that the school day has been extended leaving them starting at the same time as my younger children. I made a point of putting them in a school close to home ( within walking distance) but I agree that at age 11/12 they do need to learn that little bit of independence. Would I leave them home alone overnight at that age? No, I wouldn’t, but traveling to and from school alone unfortunately is necessary though they are with an older sibling but where I’m from it is a common thing for children of that age to travel alone.
What are your views? Do you have a particular age that you think a child should be left home alone?