NSPCC makes 55 referrals in Cambridgeshire after children are left home alone
- Credit: Archant
The NSPCC has made 55 referrals in Cambridgeshire due to concerns about children being left home alone.
The charity has urged parents to think carefully before leaving their children unsupervised, after seeing a 21 per cent rise in contacts about the issue last summer.
Across the year worried callers reported children being left alone overnight, young children left to feed themselves and use dangerous kitchen equipment and siblings fighting over iPads and games.
Nearly a third of the 5,737 calls and emails were between the summer months of July to September during the school holidays.
While some of the 1,824 contacts to the NSPCC helpline in summer 2018 were from adults simply seeking advice, a worrying 70 per cent were judged so serious by the NSPCC they were passed on to police or social services.
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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."
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Although the law does not give a minimum age at which children can be left on their own, parents and carers can be prosecuted for cruelty to a child.
This includes neglect, abandonment and failure to protect, if children are put at risk of suffering or injury.
Louise Exton, NSPCC helpline manager, said: "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 charity is also encouraging parents to remind their children about staying safe online.
The NSPCC has joined forces with O2 and created an advice guide on the most popular sites, apps and games children use.
If parents are still not sure where to start then they can call the O2 and NSPCC online safety advice line on 0808 800 5002.