My children are still very young, but one of them asked me yesterday: 'Mom, when will you just let me go to school?' I looked at him strangely since it is something that I have not even considered yet, but he already wants to do things like the grown-ups. My son's question led me to think about when I would be ready to do it and when should children be left home alone without posing a danger.
A study published by the Spanish Association of Pediatrics and the Mapfre Foundation indicates that almost 10% of children under 12 years of age have been home alone at some point and this increases the risk of having an accident at home.
The legislation that protects minors varies from country to country, but in general, it is considered negligence on the part of parents to leave a minor alone at home, either to go down to run a quick errand or to take longer, if he is left in a situation of helplessness. The child who is alone at home faces dangers such as falls and blows without an adult being able to attend to him. In addition, a stranger could knock on the door and the child open it, putting him in serious danger.
Actually there is no consensus on the age at which children can stay home alone. Each child is different and develops at their own pace or acquires habits of autonomy according to their maturity or education, so it is understood that parents are responsible for knowing when they can leave, leaving their child at home.
It not only depends on the age of the child, but on its evolution and maturity. It is the parents who know their children best and can decide if the child is ready to be alone at home. Nevertheless, Child Welfare Information Gateway, an association that ensures the safety of children, proposes a series of questions to assess the child's maturity and whether or not we can leave him alone:
- Can you take care of yourself from a physical and mental point of view?
- Do you obey the rules and make good decisions?
- Do you feel safe or afraid of being home alone?
- How long will you be alone?
- Will it be during the day, in the afternoon or at night?
- Will the child have to prepare something to eat?
- How often will you have to take care of yourself? How many times per week?
- How many children stay with him at home?
- Do you have a safe home or do you have risks?
- How safe is the neighborhood where you live?
I believe that leaving a child under 10 years old alone at home is a risk, perhaps also because I am a mother of small children. I suppose that the answer is that each one of us must know our children and value always thinking first of the minor and their well-being.
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