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'Charging parents for letting their children walk to school alone is a step too far.'

This morning, Channel Nine’s Today show reported that police in Queensland are charging parents who allow children younger than 12 to walk to school unsupervised.

I’m not one to cry “Nanny State” usually, and I have a tremendous amount of respect for the police who enforce law to keep us safe, however this is just a step too far.

Surely it is up to individual parents to make the call based on their own child’s maturity and independence, and the relative safety of the neighbourhood in which they live? You may have a thirteen year old who isn’t very responsible and who lives in a bad neighbourhood, but is allowed by law to roam freely unsupervised, whilst an extraordinarily mature eight year old living a couple of hundred metres from the school in a low crime neighbourhood can’t walk to school alone without their parents risking arrest.

WATCH: Oh how much has changed since we were at school. (Post continues…)

It is insulting to parents who know their child best, and want to make good decisions based on that individual child’s capabilities.

The fact that we only hear about the worst case scenarios in the media just feeds the paranoia that there is a predator lurking on every street corner waiting to pounce on an unsupervised child. Perhaps we should start reporting on the thousands to children who make it safely to and from school each day. Or should we keep children locked up inside until the day they turn 18 and then release them into the big, bad world with no experience?

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I understand that the police and the laws they enforce are trying to keep children safe, but in this case they really are doing children a disservice by not allowing them to develop the skills they will need in the “real world”.

Why stop at not letting children walk or ride to school unsupervised?

William Tyrrell was snatched in broad daylight from his grandmother’s balcony. Should we ban children playing at Grandma’s house?

 Why stop at not letting children walk or ride to school unsupervised? (Image: iStock)

Children are injured or worse every day in their own backyards. Is it time to send out the police helicopters to scan backyard for signs of children playing in their own gardens, bouncing on trampolines, and climbing trees without safety harnesses or parental supervision? Where do we draw the line?

On the one hand, we’re terrible parents if we let our children walk or ride to school, but on the other we’re also terrible parents for driving them straight to the school gate and contributing to the childhood obesity epidemic. I feel as though accountants will soon be asking about our parenting fails throughout the financial year so they can charge an appropriate “horrible parent tax” akin to the Medicare levy.

It’s time for law enforcement to take a step back and trust that parents can make appropriate decisions with the best interests and wellbeing of their children at heart, and perhaps use their resources for cases of actual child neglect.

Do you think parents should be charged for letting their kids under 12 walk to school? 

For more from Kelly James, check out her blog here.

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