Busy parents often find it necessary to leave their older children home alone during the day. This includes so-called “latchkey” kids, who let themselves into their houses at the end of a school day.
For many, this trend is far from being a bad thing. Older children and young people learn to be more resilient and resourceful when given an opportunity to look after themselves for a few hours each day.
What happens if they lose it?
This leads to the dilemma of what age can children take responsibility for having house keys.
It would be wrong to think that the worst that can happen if they lose or forget their key is that they have to sit on the doorstep for a while.
After all, your home security could depend on young hands keeping those keys safe!
And you don’t necessarily want a locksmith in Colchester on speed dial for when they regularly lose keys, leaving you with no other way to get access to your home.
The legal position
The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) recommends that a child below the age of 12 is not left on their own in a property. The law actually doesn’t specify an age, but it does make it an offence to leave kids home alone when they are judged to be “at risk”.
For many parents, the milestone is starting secondary school at age 11. This is often when kids start walking to and from school by themselves. Giving them extra responsibilities – and their own keys – makes sense.
Much depends on the level of freedom your child is ready for, and whether you feel they can keep a key safe.
Extra help with access and security
There are ways to help improve the chances of your older child or young person not getting locked out.
One is to select one of the more funky and fun key designs available and add it to a substantial key ring. It makes it more attractive and more liable to be spotted as the leave the house in the morning.
Encouraging them to add a collection of key rings is also useful for making the key “heavier”. Its absence would make a pocket or school bag lighter. It would also make a more noticeable sound when dropped.
You could even fasten the key on a chain or cord to their school bag.
Also, keep a spare key with a neighbour or friend who can help if they do find themselves “key-less”.
It isn’t recommended that you leave keys hidden anywhere outside your home for emergencies. This is a serious security risk, particularly if your child or young person makes retrieving the key obvious!
Finally, if all else fails, having that locksmith in Colchester on speed dial may not be a bad idea!