Children left alone at home

By Mike Dinsdale

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Whangarei police are concerned that two children aged five and six have been left home alone in separate incidents while their parents were out boozing.

Sergeant Storm Sandilands said leaving children aged 14 home alone without adequate supervision is an offence and it was worrying that there had been two cases in Whangarei in the past few days.

In the latest case a six-year-old child went to a neighbour's house in Maunu about 6pm on Saturday upset that there was nobody at home. Police were called and the child's mother, who had left the home to go to a party, could not be contacted. Child Youth and Family were called and the case referred to that Government body.

Ms Sandilands said police were called to a Tikipunga home about 9.45pm on Thursday after a five-year-old boy had called police from a phone at the home to say he was hungry as he had not been fed for hours and scared because of the foul weather that was battering the house.

Police rushed to the home and got there as the boy's parent returned from the pub where they had been drinking.

Ms Sandilands said the father was allegedly drunk and as he had been driving was given a test, which showed he had a level of 876 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath. He was charged with driving with excess breath alcohol and the case was also referred to CYF and charges may be laid against the parents of both children.

Ms Sandilands said the law was in place for good reason as it was potentially dangerous to leave young children home alone without proper supervision.

"If you have to go out make sure you arrange adequate care and supervision for your children if they are under 14, you can't just leave them by themselves," she said.

"Kids aged five and six are way too young to be left alone."

Ms Sandilands said police will always refer such cases to CYF.

In New Zealand, it is against the law to leave children under 14 without making reasonable provision for their care and supervision. What is considered 'reasonable' takes into account the circumstances in which children are left alone and the length of time they are alone.

- Northern Advocate

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