What is the legal age to leave a child at home in New Zealand?

Tween at home alone

What is the legal age to leave a child at home in New Zealand?

According to the New Zealand Police website young children must never be left alone in a house or vehicle as they need constant supervision. “It is illegal to leave a child under the age of 14 years without reasonable provision for their care.”  

This usually means that until your children are 14 years old you will need to have a babysitter or an older family member look after your children. 

Generally the law allows parents to leave a young person without supervision once they are 14 years old. However, leaving a child for an unreasonable period of time in way that puts them at risk of harm could be considered neglect according to the Children’s Commissioner.

It’s worth remember that although 14  years old is the legal age your kids can be left alone, we think you should only do this if both you and your child are comfortable with this decision. All children are different and some children may not want to be at home alone when they are 14 years old, or you might not trust your child who is over 14 to be at home by themselves.

OTHER QUESTIONS YOU MAY WANT TO KNOW

How old does a babysitter need to be?

A babysitter needs to be at least 14 years old, and should be someone you trust and your children are happy with.  The babysitter also needs to be capable of providing “reasonable supervision and care“.  So if you children are younger you would want to make sure if you are getting a 14 year old to baby sit, they have someone to call for help if needed or an adult will check in on them. 

What age can your teenager choose to leave home?

At age 16 a young person can leave home without their parents’ consent, as long as they move into a safe environment.  Oranga Tamariki can send the young person home if they believe they are at risk.  

What age can your teenager leave school?

Youth can leave school from age 16 or be expelled from school at 16.

What age can teenagers start working full-time?

Children can start work full time from age 16 and earn the minimum wage or starting out wage. Find out more about the starting-out and minimum wage at: NZ at Work.

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