Family Law News Edinburgh

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Home alone and child baby-sitters

A member of the Law Society of Scotland's Family Law Sub-Committee has offered some advice for confused parents on the subject of leaving children home alone or with a child baby-sitter.


Elaine E Sutherland says:


"In Scotland, there is no statutory age - no bright line rule - governing when a child under 16 years old may be left at home alone. Nor is there a single, simple rule on when an older child may baby-sit for a younger child.


"Parents know their own children and are usually in the best position to assess whether a particular child can be left unattended and in what circumstances. Obviously, this is something that should never be done with babies or younger children. As far as older children under 16 are concerned, factors like the child's maturity, the length of the parent's absence, the time of day and whether there is an adult available nearby to help out should an emergency arise, are all relevant considerations.


Ms Sutherland also advises that parents are legally obliged to take into account the child's own views on the subject.


In deciding how to deal with the care of their children while they are at work, parents should bear in mind that there are various aspects of the law that come into play - general family law, child protection law, criminal law and, as far as baby-sitters are concerned, employment law.


Professor Sutherland says:


"While a parent may delegate the care of a child to another person, the parent remains responsible for the child's welfare while in the other person's care and it is the parent's responsibility to make sure the baby-sitter is up to the job. If a child comes to harm while home alone or in the care of an unsuitable baby-sitter, the parent may face prosecution."




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