PARENTS thinking of leaving their children at home while heading out are urged to read the latest advice.

The NSPCC has revealed when parents can leave children at home this summer after a spike in people seeking advice over the summer holidays.

Managing work and childcare in the six-week summer holidays can present challenges for parents, and neglect was the top concern in Helpline sessions in 2022 and 2023.

For some, these challenges are likely to be even more acute this year, with the cost-of-living crisis putting additional strain on family finances, forcing them to work even more hours.

When is the correct age to leave my child alone?

There is no legal age a child can be left home alone as every child matures differently, but it is against the law to leave a child alone if it puts them at risk.

The organisation has recommended not leaving a child under 12 at home alone, particularly for extended periods.

Infants and young children aged 0-3 should never be left alone – even for a few minutes.

This includes visiting next door or leaving children in your car while you run into a shop.

For older children, there is no single rule for all, especially if a child has complex needs.

It is up to parents and carers to decide when and where it is safe and appropriate for their child to be left unsupervised.

A child who doesn’t feel comfortable should never be home alone. Those who do must be left with contact numbers for a parent or carer and another trusted adult in case they ever feel unsafe, uncomfortable or unsure about something.

One girl, aged 15, told Childline: “Mum has left us alone again; she keeps doing this.

"She just disappears for days, won’t answer anyone’s calls or texts.

"I’m so frustrated and angry with her.

"My brother is only six, I can look after him myself, but I shouldn’t have to.

"I feel like no one is ever looking after ME.”

Kam Thandi, Head of the NSPCC’s Helpline, said: “Many parents struggle with finding the right time to leave their child home alone for the first time. Every child is different, and the right time will differ for every family.”

“It’s crucial that children are involved in the conversation about when they may be ready for this and what they are comfortable with. Our Helpline will continue to support parents unsure whether their child can be left home alone and for other adults who are worried that an unsupervised child may be at risk.”