There is a boy on my road who is home alone for about 2.5hours per day. He is 8, makes his own way home from school (walking about a mile), lets himself into the house and often goes out to play with other kids on the road until his older brother gets in from secondary school. Both parents get home after 7pm.
I am a mum myself and this situation has me very worried. The fact that these are not Irish is not relevant really, but I just mention it because I have read that this is the culture in their country, and it's not unusal at all.
Is there someone I can ring? I don't necessarily want to ring my local garda station because I'm not sure if they can do anything.
Sometimes, when I am at home myself, this boy is out playing with my own child and I will give him a drink or something to eat as my heart breaks for him - apparently, there is food left out for him when he gets in from school etc...I need to do something though.
There is no law specifically about when a child can be left alone.
However if you suspect neglect you can contact the child welfare office of your local health board and inform them. They will take it from there.
I have to say, if that's normal for the culture the family is from, and if the parents are doing all they can to make sure the kid is ok for the hour or two until the older sibling comes home, (which they probably are if they're leaving out food for him,) it might be better to talk to them rather than to the gardaí, let them know that this isn't the norm here and that you're concerned.
If you have specific concerns- what does he do if he hurts himself or is sick, or there's a fire or even a less serious household catastrophe like a burst pipe or something- it would be good to bring them up.
No 8yo should be left alone for that length of time everyday. God only knows what they might get up to, kids are naturally curious & who's to say what might catch his eye on one particular day that could have dier consequences.
I'd ring social services / Gards and ask for advise on what should be done.
My youngest is nearly 10 & I wouldn't even think about letting her do it.....
I wasn't saying that nothing should be done, just that in this situation I think talking to the parents first might be better than going straight to the law.
Be serious now, what kind of response would you expect to get from the parents?
I was left alone for longer than that when I was a kid and I'm still alive!
TBH I think you should keep your nose out of it unless the child is suffering, going hungry etc. Its probably normal in their country where perhaps people don't live in fear of transit vans.
They seem like good parents, he's always dressed well, they seem to do alot of activities at weekends with him and as I said, there is food left out for him when he gets home from school. I am so concerned that he might let himself into the house some afternoon and the place might have been broken into however...my own child is 11 and I wouldn't yet let him alone in the house for 2.5hours every day...this kid is only 8.
I am not very friendly with the parents (they moved in about 18months ago) and was tempted to ask if I could keep an eye on him myself, but I'm not there everday after school myself.
I don't know, but calling the guards or social services without mentioning your concerns directly when the parents seem well meaning and not intentionally negligent is, not to put too fine a point on it, a douche move.
To be honest won't do or say anything his only alone an hour or two
Most 8 year olds know right from wrong
His being fed don't see the problem
The parents have to work and maybe can't afford a minder for an hour or 2!
I don't know ... there are definitely plenty of eight-year-olds that you couldn't leave alone like that for a couple of hours, but some kids are more mature than others, and are very good at following rules.
Maybe they have a system in place where he always rings/texts the parents to let them know he's gotten home OK. Two and a half hours doesn't really seem to be that long for a kid to be alone, assuming there are rules in place about what he is/isn't allowed do, and assuming he can be trusted to follow these rules. I can't imagine social services would get involved.
Maybe if you're concerned, and if you're around most days, you could casually mention to the mother to tell the boy to call over to you if he has any problems etc. Or of course you could say it to the boy yourself. But then again, perhaps they already have such an arrangement in place with one of the other neighbours.
If there is nothing else that seems unusual, if it were me I probably wouldn't feel the need to do anything, to be honest.
I leave my 10 yr old home alone for an hour or so - not too happy about it but no choice. Maybe this family doesn't have a choice, it's going to become more and more common I'm afraid.
the parents should make sure that the child has somebody in the street that it can go to, if things go wrong.....maybe you could be that person.
you say they are foreign, maybe they don't know anybody local...
Legally an 8 year old child should not be in consistently left in the house on their own for that length of time - if I recall my child protection training correctly.
I would agree with those who say you should speak to the parents - if you or someone on your road could help out and mind the kid for a few hours, or check in on him every so often, I'm sure they'd appreciate the support of their neighbours.
If you think the child is at risk from harm, or if the parents do not agree that the child is at risk, you can speak to the HSE or the Gardai. If you're not sure if they're really at risk then perhaps calling Barnardos/ISPCC for a chat would help - they'd have a better idea of the legal standpoint and the best way to handle it.