In 2020/21, the NSPCC Helpline received over 6,000 contacts about children left without adult supervision, and the cost-of-living crisis is expected to put more pressure on families this summer.
Each year it’s the summer months that see the highest number of calls to the NSPCC Helpline from adults concerned about children left unsupervised, peaking during the school summer holidays.
The charity is expecting to see another spike in contacts regarding children left home alone or out alone this summer.
Kam Thandi, NSPCC National Services Director said: “As the school summer holidays begin, we want to encourage parents and carers to think carefully about leaving children home alone or unsupervised, and also remind members of the public to look out for the children in their communities.
“During the pandemic we saw an increase in the contacts we received about this issue, as many people were at home and more aware of what the people around them were doing.
“The summer months can present a particularly challenging time for parents and carers when it comes to making the decision about whether to let their children stay home alone or go out unsupervised.
“We launched our Home or Out Alone campaign with Blakemore Retail to help them navigate these decisions that we know can be tricky.”
It can be difficult for working parents to manage the 6-week school break, and between work, appointments and other family commitments, every parent is likely to leave their child home alone at some point.
The charity is urging parents and carers to think carefully about leaving children home alone or unsupervised as the summer holidays start in England and Wales.
While there’s no legal age a child can be left home alone, as every child matures differently, it is against the law to leave a child alone if it puts them at risk.
If your child doesn’t feel comfortable, they shouldn’t be left home alone.
As children get older, it’s common for them to want more freedom and learn to be independent.
This is an important part of growing up, but there can be a lot to think about for parents.
During the pandemic, the NSPCC saw a big increase in the number of adults contacting their Helpline about children left alone, receiving 6,017 contacts in 2020/21.
This was an increase of a fifth when compared to the previous year.
One reason for this increase could have been due to more people working from home who became more aware of their neighbours and what was happening with the people around them.
While some of the 6,017 contacts received in 2020/21 were from adults simply seeking guidance on when it’s appropriate to leave children unattended.
A worrying 60 percent (3,584) of all contacts were serious enough for the charity to pass them on to police or social services.
While the UK is moving beyond the pandemic, and contacts begin to return to pre-pandemic levels, 4,723 in 2021/22, the cost-of-living crisis is now starting to affect families.
It’s important for members of the public to continue to look out for the children in their communities.