Children leaving home, being left alone and babysitting guidelines
Updated 23 November 2018
There is no statute law providing for suitable ages for children to be able to babysit. Advice from the Children's Department states that commonsense must prevail, but that circumstances are all important. For example, availability of the parent(s), closeness of other adults, health of the children being minded, length of time left etc. The Children's Department are not enthusiastic about sixteen year olds babysitting, let alone fourteen or fifteen year olds, but parents must decide for themselves knowing the circumstances. They are legally responsible for the well-being of their children.
Leaving children alone
There is no statutory age at which children can be left alone. It must depend on all the circumstances, see para 1, but ultimate responsibility for the well -being of the children lies with the parents (or person having parental responsibility). While the law does not specify an age at which children can be left on their own, it is illegal for anyone over sixteen, in charge of a child, to intentionally or recklessly:
- cause any harm to that child;
- expose her/him to a risk of harm; or
- neglect her/him in a manner likely to cause her/him harm.
Children leaving home
This is a grey area, as there is no statute law to cover this, however children who have finished full time education can obtain employment in order to be self-supporting.