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January 27, 2021

59 Comments

If your kids walk or ride to school by themselves, you’re breaking the law.

A parent in the small rural Queensland town of Miles was charged by police for breaching the criminal code in relation to child supervision a few years ago.

Other parents have reacted strongly after a police notice about the crime was included in a newsletter at a rural Queensland school.

The notice from Miles police said that in the first few weeks of the school term, they had noticed a number of children under 12 walking or riding to school without ‘proper’ supervision.

3 Years In The Slammer

It then goes on to quote section 364A of the Queensland Criminal Code, which says: “A person who, having the lawful care or charge of a child under 12 years, leaves the child for an unreasonable time without making reasonable provision for the supervision and care of the child during that time commits a misdemeanour. Maximum Penalty – 3 years imprisonment.”

The notice said police had laid criminal charges against a local parent and warned that others could face prosecution.

“We are determined to provide the safest possible environment for our kids and our community and we ask everyone to play their part,” the notice said.

Negligent Parents

Toowoomba Crime Prevention Sergeant Tony Rehn said the legislation was indeed legitimate and set up as a child protection measure.

“It’s about negligent parents, he said”

He continued to say that the age of 12 was used as a benchmark, but some children were more and less mature than others.

Check your local state for specific laws. We do believe this is mainly a strict law in Queensland.

Victoria

In Victoria there is an “offence to leave child unattended” under section 494 of the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005:

A person who has the control or charge of a child must not leave the child without making reasonable provision for the child’s supervision and care for a time which is unreasonable having regard to all the circumstances of the case.

NSW

In New South Wales, there is no law that specifies at what age children can be left alone. However, it is an offense to leave a child in a motor vehicle without proper supervision.

South Australia

There is no law stating an age at which children can or cannot be left alone, but the law is clear about the responsibility of parents to look after their children. In Australia there is a legal duty for parents to make sure their children are properly looked after.

Northern Territory

In the Northern Territory (NT) there is no law that tells you the age your child needs to be before you can leave them at home alone.

Under the law parents are responsible for caring for their child and keeping them safe.

Parents can be charged with an offence if children are left alone in a dangerous situation and are not fed, clothed or provided with adequate shelter.

Kidsafe recommendations for kids aged from 5 to 9 years:

• Supervise your child at all times near traffic, particularly when crossing roads.
• Teach your child how to cross roads safely. Children must first stop at the kerb. Then they need to look and listen for traffic, and then decide whether it is safe to cross. (“STOP, LOOK, LISTEN and THINK”)
• Make the trip to school together along the safest footpaths and use safe crossing places as an example for your child to follow.
• If you are unable to be there, arrange for your child to be supervised on the way to and from school and during after school activities. Ask if your school has a walking school bus program.
• Explain words like “fast”, “slow”, “near” and “far”. Talk about signs and traffic lights and the safe places to cross. Point out dangerous places and where not to cross – near curves and where things might hide children from view.
• If you are picking children up from school, have a safe meeting place, then cross the street with them. Never call them over from the opposite side of the street.
• Continue to make sure children get in and out of cars on the kerb side.
• Ask at your child’s school what traffic safety programmes are taught.

Share your comments below.

Image via shutterstock photo

  • Wow some really good things in this article

    Reply

  • A lot of parents would appreciate clear advice about this, I think.

    Reply

  • Oh Wow I had no idea it was illegal in Qld but on that note its very hard to let your kids walk anywhere by themselves these days just too many Nuts out there lol

    Reply

  • Oh wow! I understand it, the police would have seen so many horrible things over the years. I guess it depends if the parent had no other option.
    The other week I heard about a 11yr old being allowed to walk home from school just so he could spend more time with his girlfriend?! Felt he was too young and immature to walk home (mostly) alone but to also h be allowed to have a girlfriend when he can’t even regulate his own emotions was a bit much.

    Reply

  • Nothing said about Tasmania! I have noticed young children walking along on their own and thought how dangerous it is! We need to protect our most vulnerable

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  • No wonder obesity is such an issue in this country. Children will grow up not exercising and we will all end up like the characters on Wall E.

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  • You can’t argue with the law.

    Reply

  • Wow! I walked to and from school til age 11. Then we moved and I had to catch a bus. My kids had to catch a bus too. Shocking that walking to school for some is now illegal

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  • Interesting that QLD has that law, and not all states have big laws against it.

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  • Why not put (QLD) in the article title? Not good clickbait?

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  • I would prefer to walk with my daughter but had no idea it was illegal to let her go alone.

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  • I started to walk to school by myself when I was 6. However we were only 200 metres from the school. I wouldn’t let my kids walk to school by themselves that young, but I think at around age 10 it should be fine.

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  • It is worrying when I see especially young children crossing roads and walking to school without an adult.

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  • Makes it difficult when the rules are so different State by State. I personally wouldn’t let them walk on their own ….

    Reply

  • I’ve seen young kids walking to school by themselves, even though the school isn’t far I would still think that their parent/s would walk them. My kids get driven to school as we aren’t in walking distance.

    Reply

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