Ask Sam letter


To Sam

Home alone

i was just wondering what age u have 2 be to legally be allowed to b left at home without parents supervision?


Ask Sam


Hi there,

Thanks for your question, it’s one that I think a lot of people have wondered about. You may be surprised to know that the law doesn’t give a specific age for when you can be left alone without parental supervision.

All children under the age of 16 must be cared for and protected from harm at all times. If parents or carers are thinking of leaving a child alone, even for a short time, they must be sure that the child knows how to keep themselves safe. Children should only be left by themselves if they are capable of dealing with an emergency. For example, they must know what to do if there is an accident, or a fire or if someone is taken ill.

Obviously all children and young people are very different, which is why there is no law to say when it is okay to be left alone. Some children would be able to stay safe by themselves from a relatively young age - others feel very nervous of being alone. Parents and carers are responsible for deciding if their child is ready or not. If a child or young person is left alone in a way that’s not safe then their parent or carer will be breaking the law.

The NSPCC have a short leaflet about this which explains in a bit more detail. It gives some example situations of children being left alone and shows what is acceptable, and what is wrong - and may be considered neglect. Another good place for finding out more about the law and children’s rights is Law Stuff.

You haven’t said what made you ask that question today. If you want to talk about things at home in more detail, remember you can always speak to a counsellor at ChildLine. You can call 0800 1111 or log in for a 1-2-1 chat.

Take care,


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