Three quarters of parents ‘would leave children home alone or unsupervised’

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More than 76 per cent of parents would leave their children home alone or unsupervised, according to new research from Churchill Home Insurance.

The research, carried out on 1,005 UK parents of children aged five to 17, revealed that a number of parents have left children home alone overnight in the last 12 months.

A fifth left eight to nine year olds alone overnight, eight per cent left five to seven year olds alone overnight and 13 per cent left 10-11 year olds alone overnight.

Additionally, over a quarter of parents with children aged five to seven will leave their child unsupervised for an average of 24 minutes, with more than one in 10 (12 per cent) willing to do so for at least 30 minutes.

51 per cent of parents with children aged eight to nine would leave their children unsupervised at home, with the average time they are willing to leave them unsupervised for being 43 minutes. However, 12 per cent of parents said they would leave their children unsupervised at home for three to six hours.

According to the research, men are more likely to leave young children alone than women.

Twice the amount of men would leave five to seven year olds unsupervised as women(40 per cent vs 19 per cent of women) and significantly more men would leave eight to nine year olds unsupervised (63 per cent vs 39 per cent).

The gender difference disappears once children reach the age of 12.

Head of Churchill home insurance Martin Scott said: “We urge parents to follow the advice from the NSPCC which is not to leave children alone, as those under 12 in particular, are rarely able to look after themselves.”

When asked why they left their children unsupervised at home, 46 per cent of parents aged five to seven said “it’s OK if it’s only for a short time” while 15 per cent said it’s because “they cannot afford a babysitter”. One in six parents of this age group believed their children were old enough to look after themselves.

Nearly a third (32 per cent) of parents who have left their children aged eight to nine unsupervised feel their children are old enough to look after themselves at that age, while one in ten (12 per cent) say they are unable to afford a babysitter.

Despite having the confidence that their children will be fine left alone, 49 per cent of parents who left children aged five to seven alone had problems as a result of children being unaware of the consequences of what they were doing.

One in ten reported that they had returned to damaged rugs/carpets, whilst a further nine per cent said their child had damaged electrical goods.

The NSPCC advises that babies, toddlers and young children should never be left alone, while children under the age of 12 are rarely mature enough to cope in an emergency and should not be left at home alone for a long period of time.

Children under the age of 16 should not be left alone overnight, and 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, the NSPCC urges parents to think about what may happen if they were to have a falling out - would they both be safe?