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Age-old dilemma will not go away for parents

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Age-old dilemma will not go away for parents

Post  Annabel on Thu 6 May - 7:15

http://www.journallive.co.uk/lifestyle-news/newcastle-features/2010/05/05/age-old-dilemma-will-not-go-away-for-parents-61634-26376588/


Age-old dilemma will not go away for parents

May 5 2010

by Hannah Davies, The Journal

//

WOULD you leave your child alone? In the bedroom while you’re gardening? In a hotel room while you eat dinner downstairs?
Do you let your seven-year-old play with her friend in the street? Is your 15-year-old to be trusted while you stay overnight for a friend’s wedding?

These are questions parents have been dealing with for years and still answer in many different ways.
With the McCanns re-launching their appeal to find their daughter Madeleine, the spectre of “what could happen...” rears its head again and makes many parents reassess their views on the situation. But the fact is there is no clear answer to the problem. There aren’t even any laws to cover such situations.

Government advice is: “There is no legal age limit for leaving a child on their own, but it is an offence to leave a child alone if it places them at risk. “Parents can be prosecuted if they leave a child unsupervised ‘in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering or
injury to health’ (Children and Young Persons Act).” Which means, for example, many people use systems such as “child listening”
services at hotels, where you can set your room phone as a listening device for hotel reception staff while you dine in their restaurant.
Personally I wouldn’t do that, mainly because I don’t trust electronic equipment or, perhaps unfairly, some hotel staff. And I have the
privilege of a number of trusted babysitters from my family and close friends.


I certainly wouldn’t judge a couple who took advantage of this service. Just like I don’t judge Gerry and Kate McCann.
Everybody has to make a decision based on their own situation. And when does a child start to become sensible enough to look after themselves for a short while? There’s the natural desire to protect your child and their desire to assert some independence.
Most people wouldn’t leave a nine-year-old, but what about a 13-year-old? Of course, you have to look at each child while taking into account the fact many are likely to say they’ll be able to cope better than they actually can.
NSPCC offers guidelines and you can download their “home alone” leaflet at www.nspcc.org.uk/helpandadvice/publications/leaflets/ homealone_pdf_wdf36243.pdf
Their general advice is never leave a baby or young child home alone even for a few minutes, children under the age of 12 are unlikely to be able to deal with an emergency and shouldn’t be left alone for more than a few minutes, and children under 16 shouldn’t be left alone overnight. This seems pretty sound advice. But another worry is when to let children play outside by themselves.

As a child I remember many happy hours playing with my friends. I also remember my mum being furious when I ventured out of our street and didn’t contact her for a few hours. Again it’s a balancing act. We have to let our children play, and try to recognise when our
concerns are unreasonable and when they are valid. Dr Nadja Reissland, senior lecturer in the department of psychology at Durham
University, is clear about the importance of letting children play outside.

She says: “Children really need outside activity to prevent obesity.
“It has also been shown boys in particular who have lots of activity outside can concentrate more in class.
“I do sympathise with parents who are worried about letting their children play outside.
“But a lot of it is to do with where parents live.
“On a quiet cul de sac with a group or friends is very different to a busy street.”
Dr Reissland adds play is important for social development and can also be psychologically beneficial for children who may not excel academically but may do physically.

It is important then that in looking after our children we don’t go too far and that we still allow them the chance to be children. Perhaps the hardest thing of all is loosening those apron strings enough so they can have the childhood we had ourselves.
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Re: Age-old dilemma will not go away for parents

Post  Susan on Tue 11 May - 18:29

Moving thread to main forum as it was tucked away in another forum and didnt get many views

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Re: Age-old dilemma will not go away for parents

Post  Guest on Tue 11 May - 22:03

I certainly wouldn’t judge a couple who took advantage of this service. Just like I don’t judge Gerry and Kate McCann.
Everybody has to make a decision based on their own situation. And when does a child start to become sensible enough to look after themselves for a short while?
There’s the natural desire to protect your child and their desire to assert some independence.
Most people wouldn’t leave a nine-year-old, but what about a 13-year-old? Of course, you have to look at each child while taking into account the fact many are likely to say they’ll be able to cope better than they actually can.
NSPCC offers guidelines and you can download their “home alone” leaflet at www.nspcc.org.uk/helpandadvice/publications/leaflets/ homealone_pdf_wdf36243.pdf
Their general advice is never leave a baby or young child home alone even for a few minutes, children under the age of 12 are unlikely to be able to deal with an emergency and shouldn’t be left alone for more than a few minutes, and children under 16 shouldn’t be left alone overnight. This seems pretty sound advice. But another worry is when to let children play outside by themselves.

Is it just me, or do the highlighted parts completely contradict each other? The writer will not judge the McCanns, as they had to make a decision as to when children are old enough (2, 3??? FFS) to look after themselves for a short while. The writer then states that the NSPCC guidelines are 'sound advice', when advising that you should NEVER leave a baby or young child alone, even for a few minutes (not 30!!!). I'm not sure if I even understand this article fully.
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Re: Age-old dilemma will not go away for parents

Post  rozanne on Wed 12 May - 7:40

Children being able to play is one thing,and yes, it does depend on their age and the surroundings. But this wasn´t playtime for the Mccann children, this was sleep time, so it was definitely wrong to leave them alone. ANYTHING can happen during the apparent "every half hour" checks.
According to the above article, children under the age of 12 should not be left alone for more than a few minutes, as they cannot assess an emergency and act upon it. So how can anyone leave their two and three year olds alone ? Harm can come to them in their sleep too, like a coughing attack or something,especially in a foreign country where the food is not the usual food, so a child could have an upset tummy, or vomiting which could cause them to choke.
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Re: Age-old dilemma will not go away for parents

Post  AnnaEsse on Wed 12 May - 7:50

When my grandson visits, he loves to be outside, playing in my large garden. Sometimes, when we are out there, he runs off after a football, but I ask him not to go round the side of the house because I need to be able to see him. He's such a sweetie: he'll run off now and stop and call out, "Nanna Anna, can you see me?" He's just 'free and a haff,' so he's never out there by himself. I wouldn't dream of allowing him to be out in the garden by himself, even for a few minutes, because in a few minutes he could be off down the road and out of sight.
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Re: Age-old dilemma will not go away for parents

Post  LJC on Wed 12 May - 14:30

Sorry, but leaving children alone on holiday is not an age old dilemma, far from it, and to call it such is misleading IMO and is making excuses.

Leaving your child asleep in your own house whilst you garden out the back? That is, I agree, a dilemma. If the bedroom is at the back of the house with a window open, chances are you might hear your child if they cry/cough/choke. (That is unless you have loud machinery operating in your garden). It is still a risk because you may have a very long garden and the child/children could still be out of earshot. However, it is a more understandable risk if you genuinely feel you would probably hear your children because they sleep at the rear of the house.

If the bedroom is at the front of the house and you are out back, then unless you have a baby monitor I would say do not do it, common sense would tell me not to I'm afraid.

As for playing in the street, mine did this probably at around the age of 7, but we had moved to a cul-de-sac. I would not let them do this in the street where we used to live because it was a rather busy through road. However, they only went 'out the front to play' when there were other neighbours' children out there also meaning there were several lots of adults keeping their eyes open for all the children, as well as each parent keeping an eye on their own. But yes, again I would describe it as a 'bit of a dilemma' whether you would allow that or not.

However, in the case of the McCann's surely the question is different. They didn't leave their children in their own house in familiar surroundings, they left them in strange surroundings, and common sense would tell anybody with half a brain that that is a complete no go situation. I do not agree with children being left in hotels, motels, holiday apartments or caravans unsupervised, full stop. I do not trust baby listening services either.

Also, in the case of the McCann's there is another factor to consider. Not only did they leave them in strange surroundings but they vehemently deny any wrong doing calling it a mistake, even when they realised they cried for 75 minutes.

This is not a mistake, this is not a lack of common sense even, this is not a dilemma, this is neglect.

Yes, I know it is sometimes a fine line between what is a normal dilemma and what could be termed as neglect, but in their case it was definitely neglect.

It should not be called an age old dilemma IMO, because for the majority of parents it would not be a dilemma to start with, THEY JUST WOULD NOT CONSIDER DOING IT.
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Re: Age-old dilemma will not go away for parents

Post  LJC on Wed 12 May - 16:30

The article states:

"It is important then that in looking after our children we don’t go too far and that we still allow them the chance to be children. Perhaps the hardest thing of all is loosening those apron strings enough so they can have the childhood we had ourselves".

Sorry, but I don't think loosening apron strings means leaving children all alone in dark, strange and potentially unsafe surroundings.
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Re: Age-old dilemma will not go away for parents

Post  LindaDA on Fri 14 May - 18:42

Another good post LJC.

You are spot on about the McCanns. All the celebrities/news presenters that harp on about how "we all leave our children alone for a few minutes" have definately forgotten to mention that this is most likely at home.

There is no comparison to leaving a toddler napping upstairs whilst you pop out to get the clean washing off the line. That child is in his/her own room, with everything just as it always is.

Why has no interviewer challenged the McCanns with this? Just a simple question to them along the lines of "Do you feel there is a difference between leaving tiny children in a house that they know, and leaving them in a dark room in a strange resort?" would have had the McCanns floundering like hell.
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Re: Age-old dilemma will not go away for parents

Post  POPPY1 on Fri 14 May - 19:46

LindaDA wrote:Another good post LJC.

You are spot on about the McCanns. All the celebrities/news presenters that harp on about how "we all leave our children alone for a few minutes" have definately forgotten to mention that this is most likely at home.

There is no comparison to leaving a toddler napping upstairs whilst you pop out to get the clean washing off the line. That child is in his/her own room, with everything just as it always is.

Why has no interviewer challenged the McCanns with this? Just a simple question to them along the lines of "Do you feel there is a difference between leaving tiny children in a house that they know, and leaving them in a dark room in a strange resort?" would have had the McCanns floundering like hell.


Absolutely on the ball, Linda.

There is no excuse for what they did and won't apologize for.

3 children's safety is clearly less important than getting stoned on free vino.

WELL THAT'S WHAT THE MCCANNS THOUGHT.

THAT MAKES THEM THE LOWEST OF THE LOW, PURELY DESPICABLE.
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Re: Age-old dilemma will not go away for parents

Post  LindaDA on Fri 14 May - 20:15

I agree POPPY1

I think its the fact that they have never ever given one heartfelt apology that is so dislikable.

Even though I would never in a million years do what they did, I still think I would have had some sympathy for them if they had given a simple, heartbroken statement "Don't do what we did, oh how we wish we had never, never left them alone, we made the most dreadful mistake of our lives".

But no, not one single statement like this from them. That has stuck in my craw more than anything else in this case.
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Re: Age-old dilemma will not go away for parents

Post  LJC on Fri 14 May - 22:40

Thank you Poppy1 and LindaDA.
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