JUST a few months ago a friend posted a status on Facebook asking if it was appropriate for an 11 year old to be unsupervised at a shopping centre. The answer, from both parents and childless people alike was a resounding no.
The friend posted the question looking for support after she said no to her daughters request to go to the shops with a classmate (the classmate is regularly allowed to go out unsupervised). What no one commented however was that leaving a child under the age of 12 unsupervised is a crime in Queensland. Perhaps no one knew (I sure didn’t).
Yesterday a Sunshine Coast mother was given 12 months probation for leaving her daughter and her daughter’s friend unsupervised at the Ekka (Royal Queensland Show) while she got drunk at the Cattleman’s bar. The children were left unsupervised for just under an hour before the Ekka Police Beat became aware of the situation.
The mother argued that the girls were equipped with a mobile phone and therefore not in harm’s way.
The mother’s barrister James Benjamin, argued, "My client has no criminal history whatsoever (and this behaviour) is totally out of character.''
Really? Who would decide to leave their child unsupervised for the very first time at the Ekka of all places?
It did come to light, however, that had the daughter’s friend been 12 at the time of the incident, no charges would have been laid. It seems a 12 year old can supervise younger children?
Now of course everyone, at every age, has a different maturity level to others their same age. Surely though any child of primary school age is too young to wander the streets, the shops, or any public arena alone? Or was the Ekka women’s actions only prosecuted because she left the children unattended while she drank?
What is the youngest suitable age to leave children unsupervised?