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.
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