Explained: Is it illegal to let your kids walk alone?
POLICE have clarified the legalities surrounding letting children walk to school alone after an old letter warning parents of possible imprisonment again went viral.
The letter originated in a school newsletter on the Darling Downs in 2015, police said.
It warned parents that police had noticed "a number of children under the age of 12 walking or riding to school without any proper supervision".
It then quoted the Criminal Code of Queensland section 364A that "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. Maximum Penalty - 3 years imprisonment."
The letter went viral on Facebook and recently reappeared in feeds with some accusing police of "criminalising kids under the age of 12 for walking or riding to school alone".
The Queensland Police Service clarified the matter on Twitter, stating the letter was old and relating to an isolated incident in Miles.
According to a media statement released on August 5 last year, police were concerned after locating a six-year-old girl walking alone on Edith St in Miles.
"It is alleged the girl told police she was trying to make her way to a location some distance away with the use of a hand-written map, but that she didn't know the way.
"Following investigations a 33-year-old woman was charged with one count of leaving a child under 12 attended under section 354A of the Criminal Code.
"The matter was finalised on July 8 in the Toowoomba Magistrates Court.
"Subsequently the officer-in-charge of Miles Police wrote an article published on July 27 in a local school newsletter which addressed child safety issues and parental obligations.
"The article was written in response to several recent incidents of young children (five and six-year-olds) walking through the town without supervision.
"The officer-in-charge wanted to highlight these concerns to local parents and issue a general reminder about their responsibilities in relation to their supervision."
Toowoomba Crime Prevention Sergeant Tony Rehn (above) said the legislation was legitimate and set up as a child protection measure.
"It's about negligent parents.
"For example there was a case a number of years ago when there was a child left on their own while their parents went shopping.
"The child ended up on the window sill of building. That kid was left in a dangerous situation."
He said the age of 12 was used as a benchmark, but some children were more and less mature than others.
Sgt Rehn also cautioned against believing unsubstantiated social media posts about the law.
He said someone had grabbed the letter out of context nearly two years later.
Sgt Rehn advised residents to use the Queensland Police Service website to access information or to contact police.