Parents who allow children under 12 to walk or ride to school unsupervised could be risking jail time, police in a Queensland town have warned.
Police in the small rural town of Miles have put parents on notice in the school newsletter, warning they’ve already charged one parent for an apparent “blatant disregard” of their responsibility to provide proper supervision, the Sunshine Coast Daily reports.
And police say plenty of other parents could face criminal prosecution after regular police patrols near Miles State School spotted “a number of children under the age of 12 walking or riding to school without any proper supervision”.
“Kids under 12 can not walk or ride to school alone, there must be some level of supervision,” the notice says.
It warns parents face up to three years behind bars for allowing their kids to walk to school alone. Miles, a small farming town 348km north west of Brisbane, has a population of less than 1900.
“We are determined to provide the safest possible environment for our kids and our community and we ask everyone to play their part,” the note says.
The Queensland push to charge parents comes some months after a US couple were charged with child neglect for allowing their children to walk home from a local park alone.
Child psychologist and Act for Kids executive director Dr Katrina Lines tells Babyology children need to be kept safe and supported while they are still developing important life safety skills.
“The goal of any parent is to raise independent and self-reliant children However, as a parent they are responsible for ensuring their children’s safety and that from a young age, their child can recognise safe and unsafe situations, knows when to ask for help and knows who they can ask for help,” Dr Lines says.
But Sgt Ben Wiltshire later told 2GB radio there was no plan to charge parents en masse and police would exercise their judgement over whether the circumstances were “reasonable”.
“There’s a different expectation for an 11 year old than there is for a five or six year old,” he told listeners.
“That’s common sense … and it actually says in the legislation that whether the time or distance is unreasonable depends on all the relevant circumstances.
“So if you’re riding across the road across the road or 100m to the school on a push bike with a group of 11 year olds it’s certainly a different case to a five or six year old walking across town completely unsupervised.”
(via Sunshine Coast Daily)