On one hand you want your children to start gaining some independence, but on the other, you’re fully aware of all the potential dangers to your child’s safety.
A lot has changed since the latch key generation of the 1970s and 1980s, and there are laws around whether children can be left alone.
As Lawyer Lisa Flynn recently wrote for News.com.au, Queensland is the only state that specifies that a child must not be left alone if they are under the age of 12.
With seven kids living under her roof, Dr Ginni has found some creative ways to raise them.
The Queensland Criminal Code, section 364a, under the title “Leaving a child under 12 unattended,” stipulates “that a person who, having the lawful care 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.”
If found guilty of breaking this law, the punishment carries a maximum penalty of three years’ imprisonment.
The laws in other states don’t name an age when it’s a appropriate to leave your child alone, but they do state that parents are expected to provide their children with adequate safety and supervision and must act.
If something was to happen to your child while they were left unsupervised the courts will have to determine whether the considerations for your child’s safety appear ‘reasonable’, otherwise you could be breaking the law.
If your child is walking to school by themselves, the court would look at the age of the child, the distance they travel, how often they’ve gone on that walk, and the time of the day, to determine reasonableness.
If you leave your child with an older sibling who is under the age of 18, the test of reasonableness would still apply, and depending on the older child’s maturity levels and capacity to care, a parent can still be found negligent.