Journal Article

Between Freedom and Fear: Children's Views on Home Alone

Mónica Ruiz-Casares and Cécile Rousseau

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 40, issue 8, pages 2560-2577
Published in print December 2010 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online May 2010 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI:
Between Freedom and Fear: Children's Views on Home Alone

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This article examines children's views of self-care and their participation in household tasks. Drawing on group discussions with forty-two middle-school, first and second-generation immigrant students in Montreal, this article considers children's perceptions of risks and benefits of staying home alone and the ways they manage this child-care arrangement in practice. The results illustrate that children spend variable amounts of time home alone, for which they identify positive and negative effects. Concerns of safety and fear coexist with opportunities for growing responsibility and self-reliance. Social workers, school counsellors and clinicians should assess differences in household responsibilities or time alone on a case-by-case basis, taking into account individual child, cultural and contextual variables, including the specificities of the migratory experience and support networks. This article suggests recommendations for future research and practice.

Keywords: Home alone; self-care; children perceptions; child development; immigrant children

Journal Article.  7098 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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