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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, reports The Courier Mail.

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.

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.

According to the Chronicle, 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.

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.

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.

From 5 to 9 years Kidsafe recommends
• 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.

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  • This depends so much on circumstances, like where you live. Not sure this law s reasonable.

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  • I used to walk to school on my own from the second grade. It was much safer then.

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  • At some private schools children in Reception and Year 1 are not allowed out of the classroom until a parent or other authorised adult arrives at the classroom door.

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  • What is the world coming to? I never had the opportunity to walk to school as a child as it was too far, but if I lived close enough I think so long as a child knows the way and knows how to cross a road, etc. how bad is it for them to walk a short distance to school? It teaches them responsibility. I wish I had of learned a little more independence younger because when I went to high school it was a shock to me when I suddenly had to catch 2 buses to get home of an afternoon and I was petrified by finding the right places to go. I still am quite wary of buses and finding my way around using them.

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  • I think that’s taking things a bit far.

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  • The rules are so confusing, state by state. As a parent, you don’t think of these things until a situation arises and you need to consider it. When you go looking for info, you then can’t find anything consistent. I imagine it’s up to the individual family and their situation and what will work comfortably for them. I don’t think there is any right or wrong, within reason. Schools allow kids to ride their bikes from Grade 3 or 4 I think, so there is a situation created for parents to consider.

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  • Depending on where we were living my older children bussed, rode a bike or walked to school. They even had a 2.5 km walk to get to the bus at one place, there I walked with them as the Cane trucks whizzing around could not see the children. Myself I walked long ways with my siblings in some places. Took the bus to school at 4 by myself. Children these days have so many restrictions placed on them. My younger children’s school requests that all children under 8 are delivered to the classroom door by an adult.

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  • I think that children develop at different speeds and age alone cannot be the guide line. My children rode to school on their bikes from 5 years old onwards.

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  • Seems like a bit of an unusual thing to happen given that most kids I see walking to primary school are under 12.

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  • My kids had to catch a bus to school. I always walked them to and from the bus though and the bus took them right to the school yard

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  • i think it depends on where you live,10 years old living near school i think ok but any younger they need supervision having older siblings walking together or even organising a group of friends so they not on their own.

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  • I applied for my daughter (who is currently 9) to get a bus pass this year, but because we live within the ‘boundary’ she is not eligible for free travel anymore (within 1.6km from the school as the crow flies) yet is recommended that she not walk to school until at least the age of 10 – a bit contradictory I feel

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  • I can understand children having to have someone take them to school if they are under 8, but 12 & under is a bit much. I know my paremys walked miles to get to school & went on their own, I always walked to school without my parents & so did my son once he was 8. I know my son & my brother did not want anyone to walk them to school after they turned 8 as they found it embarrassing. Plus not all parents have the opportunity to walk or drive their children to school due to work times etc & don’t always have someone to take the children for them.

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  • When do we say enough helicopter parenting, we will end up with 26 year old who will be afraid to do any thing by themselves. Let our children grow and live as children are meant to.

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  • My kids age 12, 10, and 6 years old are walking together from school to home. I feel it’s good for them and increases their responsibility

    Reply

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