Parents charged for letting kids walk to school solo

Update on September 7, 2016 at 3:54pm:

Following some concern about the details in this article myGC would like to clarify that all identifying details were amended by the author, and this story was inspired by real events rather than based on them.

Earlier on September 7, 2016 at 10:45am:


Have you ever let your primary school-aged child walk or ride their bike to school? If so, you may have inadvertently broken the law.

One Queensland parent in the rural town of Miles recently learnt this the hard way, when they were charged by police for breaching the criminal code section 364A.

Under this section the Queensland Criminal Code, “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.”

The maximum penalty? A generous three years in prison.

Now, this story is making some waves online. Commentators are waving their pitchforks, arguing that this is proof of a nanny state gone mad.

But I’ve gotta admit – I wouldn’t let my kid walk to school at 8 years of age. Or 10 years of age. Or even 12 years of age! Remember, Daniel Morcombe was 13 years old when he was abducted.

The fact is, society has become less safe over time. And allowing your kids to travel to school on their own is risky.

So joining them for the walk? Well, that’s just one of the many measures that responsible parents take to protect their children.

I know that not everyone agrees with this viewpoint.

Catching up with some friends recently, I was surprised when they proudly told me how their 8-year-old rides his bike to karate practice after school every Wednesday – all on his own.

The journey is around 1.2km each way, in a straight line from their Burleigh Heads home, directly up the highway. He leaves at 4.40pm and arrives home at 6.15pm, just in time for dinner.

Yes, it’s a relatively short trip – But anything could happen along the way.

He could fall off his bike and injure himself, or worse, fall under a car. He could be lured away or snatched by a predator. He could get lost. They’re largely unlikely scenarios, but in this day and age they are not impossible. So why would you take the risk?

Kids have all the time in the world to become independent and learn to do this on their own. In my view, walking or riding their bike to school (or after-school activities) on their own can wait until they’re much, much older.

Do you think this law is fair, or should parents be able to decide for themselves when to allow their kids to travel independently?