Frequently Asked Questions

1. At what age can I leave my child alone?

Your children rely upon you to protect them and you are responsible for making sure they are happy, safe and well looked after in your absence.

There is no legally set age at which it’s OK to leave your child at home alone.

It all depends on:

  • how mature your child is
  • if they are happy to be left
  • if they could cope in am emergency
  • it is important to remember that it is an offence to leave children alone if it places them at risk. Parents can be prosecuted for neglect.

If you do leave an older child at home, make sure they are happy about the arrangement and that they know what to do in an emergency. Leave contact numbers with your child.

Do not leave a child under 16 alone overnight.

For advice, visit the NSPCC guide 'Home Alone: Your Guide To Keepng Your Child Safe'


2. Is it safe to leave my child with a babysitter?

Yes, providing you are confident that the babysitter is responsible and that he/she is able to meet the needs of your child.

You need to think about your child’s needs especially the needs of:

  • very young children
  • sick children
  • disabled children
  • older children.
  • when there are a number of children
  • children with challenging behaviour

If these things apply to your situation, look for reliable and experienced babysitters over the age of 16. Grandparents and family members make good babysitters but ensure that you have considered the above.


3. Can I leave my younger children with older siblings?

Older siblings can find their younger brothers and sisters are less cooperative when they are in charge. Although there are many very responsible youngsters it has been found that on some occasions older siblings are responsible for bullying their younger brothers and sisters.

  • A babysitter might be a better alternative.
  • Always leave your child with someone you trust.


4. How do I know I can trust a childminder?

Childminders have to register with the appropriate authorities and provide a safe environment for your children. Their homes are visited and inspected. They have to meet strict standards. In addition to taking your child to and from school they can cover holidays, giving your child security and continuity. Childminders are:

  • monitored against national standards
  • trained in skills such as first aid, food hygiene and behaviour management
  • insured with public liability insurance.

Many childminders also have child care qualifications.


5. What do I do if I am worried about a child?

Don’t wait until you’re certain, contact the Police, Social Services or a charity like the NSPCC. There are many help lines and websites available to listen to you or give you advice and information.


6. Will my call be confidential?

If you make a call you do not have to say who you are. The agencies will still act on what you have told them. In some cases it may be necessary to ask for your details if the case becomes a criminal one and you are a witness to the abuse.


7. What happens when a report is made?

All calls are taken by trained staff who will work with other professionals. They will carry out the following assessment:

  • Is this child in need?
  • If so, what are the needs of the child?
  • Is there reasonable cause to suspect that this child is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm?
  • Are the parents able to respond appropriately to the child’s needs?
  • Is the child adequately safeguarded from significant harm and are the parents able to promote their child’s health and development?
  • Is the child in need of services?
  • Is action required to protect and promote the child’s welfare and the welfare of any other children who may have had contact with the alleged abuser?

Following this a meeting may be held to decide what action is required to ensure the safety of the child.


8. What should I do if my child reveals that he/she is being abused?

Contact the police as soon as possible. Show the child that you have heard and that you are listening to them. Reassure the child. Make sure that they are safe at all times. For more advice, visit our domestic abuse section.


9. Will my child be taken away?

Only if, after assessment, there is seen to be risk to the life of a child or the likelihood of serious immediate harm. Action will be taken to secure the immediate safety of the child. This will involve the police and social services.


10. Do children have any rights?

Yes they do. UNCRC stands for United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. It’s a list of rights that all children and young people, everywhere in the world have, no matter who they are, where they live or what they believe in. The UNCRC has 54 articles in it, 42 rights are for children and young people up to 18 years of age. The others are all about how governments and adults should work together to make sure children and young people can access their rights.

The rights on the list are all the things that children and young people need to make sure that they are safe, have the things they need to survive and develop, and have a say in decisions that affect their lives. and If you want to read the UNCRC in other languages go to UNICEF’s website.

The UNCRC is not law, but because the UK government has signed up to it, they are working to make sure that all children in the UK have all their rights.


11. Is there any one who stands up for children’s rights?

Yes, in Wales there is a Children’s Commissioner: Keith Towler’s role is to meet with children and young people and to listen to what they say about issues that affect them. He champion’s their cause and represents them and their rights in organisations such as councils and health trusts. The Commissioner’s office is also available to give advice and information to children and adults alike. Visit