What age are you allowed to leave your kids at home alone?

It boggles the mind that a Perth woman could allegedly leave two children aged six and four at home without care and supervision to travel overseas.

Mamamia reported previously that the woman claimed to have left her step-children unattended in her home because Australia Post had lost their passports.

“If you are really concerned about my children, can you please help me sort out this post office and locate passports,” she said via an interpreter, “because without passports my children will not be legal here.”

She said her decision to leave them alone at the property ought to be “between me and my children.”

Post continues after video.

Video via Channel 9

In this, the decision to leave them alone at the property should be between her and her children, she’s both correct and incorrect.

Australian law is equivocal on how old a child needs to be before he or she is left unsupervised and for the most part it asks parents to make a judgement call based on each individual child.

Advertisement

There is no one law that places an age restriction on when parents can leave a child alone, according to parenting site Raising Children.

Most Australian States and Territories hold that parents are responsible for the provision of food, shelter, clothing, safety and supervision for their children but don’t specify an age at all.

Queensland is an exception. In Queensland, if you leave a child under the age of 12 alone without appropriate care or supervision for an ‘unreasonable’ length of time then you can be charged, but the question of what is an unreasonable length of time is open to interpretation and depends on the circumstances.

stepmother left children home alone during trip to bali

In other words, parents are asked to use their judgement about when a child is old enough to be left unsupervised. That means they need to consider whether or not a child is able to feed and clothe themselves, handle an emergency appropriately, use a telephone etc. But above all else, it means a parent must consider whether or not a child is confident enough to be left at home alone.

There are benefits to leaving children unsupervised at an appropriate age for an appropriate length of time. It can help build independence and encouraging children to care for themselves. But the question is what is an appropriate age?

My five-year-old openly displays his lack of comfort at the idea he might be left at home alone if I merely open the garage door without letting him know what's going on - by shouting and crying out for me not to leave him.

Like I said, it boggles the mind that someone, exercising their judgement, could allegedly consider a four-year-old and a six-year-old capable and confident enough to be left unsupervised.

JOIN THE CONVERSATION