A Queensland police officer has stoked a national controversy by warning parents in his small town they could be charged for letting their kids walk or ride to school.
Sergeant Ben Wiltshire published a notice in the Miles school newsletter warning it was a crime in the state to allow children under 12 to make their own way to school “without proper supervision”.
“Kids under 12 cannot walk or ride to school alone…” the notice read in bolded letters.
“… There must be some level of supervision.
“Blatant disregard for this responsibility has already led to criminal charges against a parent in Miles and others could easily face prosecution.”
According to Sgt Wiltshire’s warning, the maximum penalty in Queensland for leaving a child unsupervised for an unreasonable amount of time is three years imprisonment.
Unsurprisingly, the warning did not go down well with many, sparking a new round of claims that laws were imposing a nanny state.
A post from a shocked local mother quickly gathered more than 1000 shares, no mean feat for a post coming from a town with a population of about 2000.
The Queensland Police Service and Sgt Wiltshire have since sought to clarify the warning.
A police spokesman told Daily Mail a 33-year-old woman had been charged for allowing a six-year-old girl to “wander around town unsupervised” while she was “acting feral”.
“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 spokesman told Daily Mail.
“The Officer in Charge wanted to highlight these concerns to local parents and issue a general reminder about their responsibility in relation to their supervision.”
Sgt Wiltshire employed some softer terminology when explaining his position to 2GB.
“'If you're riding across the road or 100 metres to school on a pushbike with a group of 11-year-olds it's certainly a different case to a five or six-year-old walking across town completely unsupervised,” 'he said.
“A lot of it comes down to common sense.”
The small town of Miles has a population of about 2000 and sits about 340 kilometres from Brisbane.