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Please see further information regarding the following:
If your child is feeling anxious NSPCC has some useful advice.
Royal College of Psychiatrists offer advice for parents and carers.
The following organisations offer advice for parents and carers:
When can you leave a child at home?
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, e.g. at home or in a car.
The NSPCC says:
Parents can be prosecuted if they leave a child unsupervised ‘in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering or injury to health’. This means that they can be fined or sent to prison if they are judged to have placed a child at risk of harm by leaving them at home alone.
Advice for leaving a child at home
Whether you or your child are comfortable with the idea will often depend on how mature and adaptable your child is.
The advice below is there to help you make up your mind about whether leaving your child home alone is a good idea, as well as tips for choosing appropriate childcare if you decide it's not.
A child should never be left at home alone if they do not feel comfortable with this, regardless of their age
If a child has additional needs, these should be considered when leaving them at home alone or with an older sibling
When leaving a younger child with an older sibling think about what may happen if they were to have a falling out - would they both be safe?
Questions to consider?
Would they know how to contact you or another family member or friend if they needed to?
Do they have these contact numbers to hand?
How would they feel about being left alone – pleased to be given the responsibility or scared by the thought of it?
If your child is over 16 and you think they’re ready to be left alone overnight, let them know exactly where you are and how they can get in contact if anything goes wrong. And remember to have those conversations about who they’ll invite over while you’re away.
For further advice:
If you are concerned about a child who has been left alone at home please report your concerns to Children's Services or the police.
We advise that children should not be smacked as evidence shows that smacking has no benefit to the child and may be counterproductive and harmful.
In England and Wales the law allows children to be smacked. The law permits parents and carers (with the permission of the parents, excluding foster carers, schools and nurseries) to use 'reasonable chastisement'. Unfortunately, the law does not define what is reasonable or in what circumstances a child can be hit.
The City of York Safeguarding Children Partnership's policy position on smacking is:
The CYSCP believe it is both wrong and impracticable to seek to define acceptable forms of corporal punishment of children. Removing the defence of "reasonable chastisement" and thus giving children in their homes and in all other settings equal protection under the law on assault, is the only just, moral and safe way to clarify the law. We believe this would eliminate the current dangerous confusion over what is acceptable and provide a clearer basis for child protection.
We recognise that evidence from other countries demonstrates that legal reform, coupled with the promotion of effective means of positive discipline, works to reduce reliance on corporal punishment and reduces the need for prosecutions and other formal interventions in families. The CYSCP believes that using positive forms of discipline reduces stress and improves relationships between children, their parents and other carers.
The children and young people's section of our website has some useful advice and guidance.
Minded is also a useful resource.
The children and young people's section of our website has further information regarding exploitation.
Virtual College has a useful online parenting course to help parents keep children safe from sexual exploitation.
Myth: Children are usually abused by strangers
Truth: Most children are abused by someone they know and trust
Myth: Women do not sexually abuse children
Truth: Although the majority of sexual abusers are male, in around 5-10% of cases the sexual abuser is female
Myth: It doesn’t happen here – this is often said in the context of family, class, ethnic group or community
Truth: Abuse happens in all classes, ethnic group, cultures and communities
Myth: Children are prone to lying about abuse
Truth: Children very rarely lie about abuse, and their greatest fear is that they won’t be believed (abusers will often tell children that no-one will believe them if they tell)
Myth: When parents have abused a child the children are usually taken into care
Truth: Child protection professionals know that whenever possible the best place for a child to grow up is with their parent(s), so they always try to protect a child within the home whenever possible
Myth: Child abusers come from deprived backgrounds, are below average intelligence, or are recognisable as dangerous
Truth: Abusers come from all walks of life, social class and intellectual background. They may be well-liked and respected members of the community
Self-harm can cover a range of things that people do to themselves in a deliberate and harmful way. It's important to know that support is available for anyone who self-harms or thinks about self-harm, as well as their friends and family.
NSPCC offers good advice to understand the reasons why children and young people self-harm