Surge in reports of children being left at home during school holidays, NSPCC says

Charity reveals 21 per cent rise in reports of children being left unsupervised over summer months

Antonia van Dunem
Friday 26 July 2019 06:57
Comments
Parents are being urged to think carefully before leaving their children unsupervised after data published by the NSPCC revealed 5,737 calls and emails were made to its helpline in 2018 to 2019 by adults concerned about children being left home alone
Parents are being urged to think carefully before leaving their children unsupervised after data published by the NSPCC revealed 5,737 calls and emails were made to its helpline in 2018 to 2019 by adults concerned about children being left home alone

The NSPCC saw a surge in correspondence about children being left unsupervised during the school holidays last year.

The charity urged parents to think carefully before leaving their children on their own after it published data revealing that 5,737 calls and emails were made to its helpline in 2018-19 about the issue.

Nearly a third of those calls and emails were made during the summer of 2018, the data revealed. There was a 21 per cent increase in people making contact with the helpline during this period last year compared to 2017.

The charity said this could be explained in part by “increasing childcare pressures” parents face during the summer months, with it now being the biggest cost for families after housing.

Of the 1,824 times the helpline was contacted about the issue last summer, 70 per cent of cases were judged so serious they were referred to the police or social services.

Callers expressed a range of reasons for their concerns, including children being left alone at night, having to make food for themselves and using unsafe kitchen appliances.

One member of the public who contacted the charity said: “I have had these concerns for a while but I am only reporting it now because it seems to have got worse. The children are home alone again; the mum hasn't been home and the children have been alone all night. She does this every Friday night to go out drinking with her mates and often taking drugs.”

In another case, a concerned relative told the helpline: “I'm aware in the past my teenage grandson has been left home alone in the daytime and evenings while his mum goes out. At the moment, he's being left home alone every day. He doesn't have any friends or family in the new town so all he can do is play on his game station all day. The last time I saw him he looked really unhappy.”

Louise Exton, a manager at the NSPCC helpline, said: “Childcare is the biggest cost for families after housing, which could explain why we see a spike in calls to our helpline during these months. Leaving your child home alone can be a difficult decision as children mature at different ages – there is no ‘one size fits all’ answer.

"Parents are best placed to know what is right for their child so it’s vital there is flexibility for them to decide, but we would urge them to think carefully and use their common sense when deciding if their child could cope.”

The figures come after the Childcare Survey 2019 found the cost of childcare had risen by 3 per cent in the last year, with parents now paying an average of £127 per week for just a part time nursery place, leaving many struggling to find the affordable childcare they need.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in