An 8 year old cannot stay home alone, even for two hours after school, British Columbia’s Supreme Court just ruled.
AÂ mom had been doing just that, without any problems, until a social worker was alerted to the situation. (Possibly by the husband from whom the mom is separated.) According kfbshbniza
to the Vancouver Sun:
A social worker visited the home and told the mother a child under the age of 10 could not be left alone. She asked the mother â€” identified only as B.R. in court documents â€” to agree to a â€œsafety plan.â€
When the mother refused, the social worker asked to speak to the boy, but the mother again refused.
If I ever meet that mom, I will have to give her a crown: She refused to make a safety plan because she RAISED the safety plan. Her son is clearly capable of being on his own for a few hours — as are almost all 8-year-olds — because that’s how he was raised. Traditionally, parents raise their kids so that gradually those kids can take responsibility for themselves. In most of the world, this is normal and good. From Switzerland to Swaziland, kids start getting themselves to school, by foot, bike or bus — on their own — at age 7. And yet the social worker ordered the boy to be supervised for six months.
The social worker testified that, in her opinion â€œchildren who are eight years of age do not have the cognitive ability to be left unsupervised,â€ citing various risks, including accidental poisoning or fires, which could arise â€œregardless of (the boy)â€™s level of maturity.â€
On the strength of that evidence, the judge accepted that children under the age of 10 could not be safely left alone.
Evidence? What evidence??? All the social worker did was Â give her opinion. She dreamed up some very rare risks and then said that a child — no matter what his maturity — would have a hard time dealing with them alone.
This is classic “worst-first thinking” — thinking up the very worst case scenario first and proceeding as if it’s likely to happen. So let’s flip it. Let’s dream up very unlikely risks a boy could encounter WITH his mom. Because if you go looking for risks, you’ll always be able to find some. (That’s the problem.) So what if the mom had picked up her son every day and they got hit by a drunk driver? Could the boy handle THAT? Maybe the social worker would like to rule that the mom never drive her son anywhere, either? After all, it’s not 100% safe, “regardless of the boy’s level of maturity.”
Our culture’s problem is that we have been trained to automatically fantasize about disaster anytime we hear of a child alone, as if simply being unsupervised = death. Attempting to counteract this knee-jerk tendency —
The mother appealed the decision, contending there was no basis for the judge to conclude the eight-year-old was in need of protection.In her appeal, the mother said the social worker usurped the function of the legislature, given that no minimum age for leaving a child alone for a short period is prescribed by statute.
She also maintained that the social workerâ€™s evidence was tendered as expert opinion and was improperly admitted, and that children mature at different times.
However, Punnett ruled that â€œgreat deferenceâ€ must be given to social workers in such cases and that her testimony was valid.
â€œThe social workers have a statutory duty to be truthful, to be honest, to be complete and to do their very best.â€
So social workers are doing their very best, but parents are slackers who couldn’t care less what happens to their own children. Only the state cares enough.
Here’s what’s really happening in this case: A parent is protecting her right to raise her child the way she sees fit, while the social worker isÂ protecting her job. Social workers have every incentive to overreact to even the most remote chance of danger, because there are no negative consequences to going wildly overboard. If they insist all children must be supervised till they’re 38:
1 – They know that if somehow, unpredictably, something bad DOES happen to a child, they can’t be blamed. They TOLD us to overprotect our kids.
2 – They also know they will have lots of work investigating all the “terrible” parents who trust their kids to be fine for an hour or two.Â Job protection abounds!
As for parents, now they must:
1 – Find and pay for childcare, even when a child is old enough not to need it.
2 – Treat their kids like babies, even when they want to give them more responsibility and show their kids that they believe in them. And, worst of all, they must
3 – Second guess every decision they were going to make about how they raise their kids. If the law states that you can’t put your children in any “dangerous” situation, now you, too, have to fantasize all the dangers that could possibly happen, no matter how far-fetched, and overreact just as ridiculously as the social workers and courts.
In other words, the state is insisting on mind control: You must think obsessive negative thoughts and act on them.
If letting your kid wait at home for two hours is criminal because there could be a fire, if letting your kid wait in the car for 5 minutes is criminal because you could forget him, if letting your kid walk home from the park is criminal because he could be abducted, parents are FORCED to helicopter. HELICOPTER PARENTING BECOMES THEÂ LAW OF THE LAND.
Thank Â you, Judge Punnett, for making all parents into criminals until they, zombie-like, accept your world view: All children are in terrible danger unless mommy is holding their hand. – L
I hope that the UK will be instituting government-subsidized day care for parents who lack the privilege to pay for it themselves. Or perhaps the nation will simply make it illegal for poor people to have kids.
I hope that the UK will be instituting government-subsidized day care for parents who lack the privilege to pay for it themselves. Or perhaps the nation will simply make it illegal for poor people to have kids.
An eight year-old ALONE?
They could drink up all of the hand sanitizer!
“I hope that the UK will be instituting…”
In spite of the word “British” in “British Columbia,” this story is from Vancouver, Canada.
Much like how “New Mexico” is part of the United States, not Mexico.
“The social worker testified that, in her opinion â€œchildren who are eight years of age do not have the cognitive ability to be left unsupervised,â€ citing various risks, including accidental poisoning or fires, which could arise â€œregardless of (the boy)â€™s level of maturity.â€
I know adults who do not have the cognitive ability or maturity to be safe from fires/accidents or (more likely) overdoses that could arise unsupervised. And this has EVERYTHING to do with maturity.
At eight years old, a child is perfectly fine keeping themselves alive for short periods of time.
We cannot institutionalize supervision for children for every hour of their day.
They won’t spontaneously combust if left unsupervised for 2 hours. Most actually enjoy the peace and quiet. Self sufficiency often comes from necessity- learning to cook when your hungry and no one is there to feed you, getting your homework done while your alone so you can concentrate, or just watching TV.
“Unsupervised” assumes we are managing children. We are not. Parents RAISE children. The purpose of parenting is to work yourself out of a job and transfer knowledge and wisdom to raise a productive and contributing member of society. Telling them they cannot be *alone* at any time under age 10 completely undermines basic parenting principles of incremental responsibilities and individual maturity. We NEED to cultivate this in our youth.
This is over – reach. If we don’t reign in government tyranny here in the states this will only be a drop in the bucket for us. Homeschooling is being attacked in Jersey and students in a Tennessee school (and others across the country, Fl for one) are being made to recite the Muslim Shahada prayer of conversion into Islam. In BOTH English and Arabic.
DCF/CPS gains more control over more agencies as the years go on. Child Protective Agency was NOT always in charge of Food Stamp offices, and shouldn’t be. They are like a cancer growing exponentially, killing the definitions of ‘parent and freedom.
I read the comments on the original Sun article and they are mostly “whoopee for the Nanny State.” Us Canucks are getting the government we deserve.
Maybe we could trade our cash Child Care Benefits and Child Tax Benefits back to the state just to be LEFT ALONE!
The social workers opinion needs to be taken with many grains of salt. Their job requires them to see the world through a filter that is far from objective. I’m not sure it is possible to be in the field without some kind of hero complex.
@Vicki: citations for the homeschooling attacks in New Jersey and the “forced prayer” in other states. All I’m seeing on the prayer issue is that a social studies section on other religions got blown up into “My Child is Being Forced to Pray Muslim Prayers”. (Snopes.com)
As for homeschooling – while I haven’t been following it closely, I seem to remember that NJ is simply asking for annual proof the child is being taught appropriately and can pass standard tests. If I’m wrong, please tell me so.
As for latchkey children – I’m so glad my kids are now adults. They were left home alone for hours at 8 and 10 when my husband and I had to work and they had snow days. Somehow, they survived. I have great concerns about kids today. I hear my younger co-workers talking about their kids, and I’m appalled at how helpless these kids are (10 years old and can’t make their own sandwich or be left alone while mom runs to the grocery store for 15 minutes!)
Vicki: The TN school did not require any recitation of prayers – Islamic or otherwise. http://m.snopes.com/islam-tennessee-school/ Note that the discussion on Islam is part of course that covers ALL major religions and their fundamental ideas. You are fear-mongering.
Three words: BRAVE NEW WORLD.
I see so many of my children’s friends (mostly girls) who were never left alone at ages 8-10 and always highly supervised. Now that they are older (12) and of an age where they can be left alone, they have a fear of being left alone. Two of her friends have panic attacks when alone in the house and are in therapy.
Will social services also pay for the counseling and psychiatric treatment of these government-induced anxiety disorders in children and for interfering with basic childhood milestones?
As an 8 year old, I was home bound for ~3 months due to illness and was I left alone the WHOLE day while my parents went to work not just a few hours. My mother was a teacher and didn’t have a cell phone so if I needed her I had to call the school, speak (politely) to the secretary and ask to have my mother call me, and then wait for class to end and for my mom to call me back. My father worked in a different country where the phone lines were sketchy. Sure my neighbors knew I was home but they didn’t hover. During my day I had to get my own breakfast, lunch and snacks and take my medication. I also had to answer the door for my home-school teacher three days a week and make sure I locked the door after she left. During that time never did I once drink hand-sanitizer, set fires, run with knives, get into the liquor cabinet, shoot someone/something, go swimming in the swimming pool, crawl into the laundry hamper and poke out my eye, shave my head or tie-dye the dog. When I felt better, I’d make pancakes or waffles (from scratch) or bake sometimes. I’d even do laundry (without falling in and knocking myself unconscious) and unloaded the dishwasher (Yes – we had GLASS plates). I was also expected to do my homework and pick up my stuff before they got home.
Although it wasn’t fun being sick, I was more than capable of taking care of myself and my parents felt the same way because THEY raised me – NOT the government. I had some basic rules and expectations but as long as I lived within those boundaries, I was allowed to explore, play and be a kid.
If only I could give my child the same freedoms without fear of jail…
I think there is good evidence that one particular Canadian judge does “not have the cognitive ability to be left unsupervised”. His ruling in this case is evidence enough.
“In spite of the word â€œBritishâ€ in â€œBritish Columbia,â€ this story is from Vancouver, Canada.
Much like how â€œNew Mexicoâ€ is part of the United States, not Mexico.”
And Scotland Yard is in England.
Social workers are mediocre, mainstream, small-minded little people. They are also unaccountable.
Ah, this is just what my step-children’s mother needed to justify her angst about the 9-year-old ever being “alone.”
We’ve tried to convince the girl she is capable of many things. She has become a child who carries so much anxiety about “bad people” and “bad things happening” to her that she cannot develop to the level of her ability.
The way she covers her anxiety is to tell lies. She will claim that the bus “smells bad” instead of acknowledging she is terrified of strangers, even if she is with her older brother, who is huge! She will claim that a child said “mean, hateful things” to her right before bedtime in order to escape a sleepover, even if it is just in a room separate from her father in the same house.
We are trying to help her overcome her anxiety, and we talk to her mother about these issues, but Mom won’t assert that these things are OK to do, just says, “Well, if she’s comfortable with it…” but the child cannot be comfortable with anything she knows MOM is anxious about.
And now, since we’re in BC, the law of the land now justifies this mother’s paranoia. “It’s against the law for her to be home alone,” we will hear.
Tragic. I will be writing a letter to someone, somewhere, to plead for sanity.
Sooo…. this judge puts the opinion of one social worker, over the studied and considered opinion of teams of experts? Let’s look at accidental poisonings and fire shall we.
In the ultimate Meitiv decision we saw Maryland conclude that the law forbidding being left home alone below the age of 8 was a fire safety law applying only to houses and cars. In other words, their fire safety experts had determined that your typically developing 8 year old could safely handle evacuating on their own in the event of a fire.
And what about the risk of accidental poisoning. DC’s poison control at poison.org charts calls to poison control by age group. They show the poison exposure for young children peaking at a year of age, being similar at 2 and then falling off so sharply that for 6 and up they lump it into broader age categories. The CDC starts lumping into 10 year groupings at 5, so 5-14. And that 5-14 year old group is the single LEAST likely group to die of accidental poisoning. According to the CDC in 2013 there were 38,851 deaths due to “Accidental poisoning and exposure to noxious substances (X40-X49)” Of those a mere 30 happened in the 5-14 year old age group. And a whopping 8,374 occurred in the 35-44 year age group. The parents are probably some 280 times more likely to die of accidental poisoning than the kid!
Those are facts though, and as I often complain, we have reached a moment in history where people would rather act on the “sincere heart felt concerns” of meddlers than give the facts sincere consideration.
Social workers are mediocre, mainstream, small-minded little people. They are also unaccountable.
You might might want to google social worker. This is a profession and they work in a wide variety of settings, including private practices and non-governmental entities. They are most certainly accountable to the law, ethical standards, and other regulations.
In this case, we should be more angry at a legal system that gives “great deference” to the notion that any “expert” should override the reasonable decisions made by a parent.
The sad part of this ruling is that the U.S.A. will be following suit. Meanwhile, in the Philippines, 8-year-old kids are out on the streets washing car windows and making a bit of money, in the Himalayan foothills of Nepal, young Nepalese children are babysitting their younger siblings with no parental involvement while meeting the many western trekkers that go thru their villages and give them pens.
Judges ALWAYS side with the Social Workers and Child Psychologists who are full of crap in my opinion when it comes to kids and danger!
I have to disagree with the comment about almost all 8 year olds being capable of being on their own for a few hours. Not because this is something that 8 year olds should be incapable of doing, but because most parents today view their 8 year olds as helpless idiots so have made them completely incapable of doing so.
I am absolutely astounded every day at how immature and incapable the other parents at my daughter’s school treat their children. At 8, my daughter was the only one of her friends allowed to stay home alone for even 5 minutes. Most of her friends still, in 4th grade, are not allowed to stay home alone for more than 30 minutes. Some are never allowed to stay home and one would be allowed but is afraid to do so (she stayed home once, managed to set off the alarm and now refuses to do it again). My daughter is also the only 4th grader in the entire school who travels to and from school on her own (according to my daughter). One friend is apparently not allowed to cross residential streets by herself and another is escorted to school despite living within spitting distance (her backyard may abut school grounds) and not having to cross a single street to get there. Do you seriously think that a child, who at a month short of 10 has never been allowed to cross a street by herself, is in any way capable of staying home by herself?
Social workers have huge amounts of power. Judges consider *anything* a social worker says as EVIDENCE. The social workers don’t have to cite anything specific or defend it in any way because they are considered EXPERTS. That means their OPINION is defacto EVIDENCE. The only way to debunk or otherwise push-back against social worker testimony is with an attorney doing good cross examination or contrary testimony from another expert of some sort.
That quote: “… citing various risks, including accidental poisoning or fires, which could arise â€œregardless of (the boy)â€™s level of maturity.â€
suggests that NO level of maturity is high enough to be left alone, doesn’t it?
One problem today is the prevalence of adults who do not live with children and/or don’t remember how smart they were themselves when they were kids.
Coupled with lack of belief in a child’s inborn abilities, another problem is lazyness on the part of many helicopter parents. They don’t want to “spend time” teaching their kids how to do something successfully. They just assume that after a child is “old enough” the child will have “absorbed” the proper knowledge from society and be magically “able” to navigate the world successfully.
I talked to a neighbor who does not want her children making their own popcorn unless she is present. I understand her reasons. BUT, I understand ONLY if she does not instruct them on how to do it successfully and safely. Her shortcut to avoiding a possible mess is: “No, I will not allow them to do that.” Period.
Fine, we’ve all done that at times. Do the easy thing instead of the best thing. But I must say that as my kids were growing up, I often felt an inner compulsion to “teach and allow” so they would be prepared for a safe and independent life away from home. Certain parents do not want their kids to grow up and leave home.
Lenore said: “So letâ€™s flip it. Letâ€™s dream up very unlikely risks a boy could encounter WITH his mom.”
1.) House fire while all are asleep. How many times have you heard of a fire where kids died and the parents were present but could not save the kids?
2.) Parents take a child to a medical doctor, and the child eventually dies because of medical treatment.
(See The Starfield Report:
AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH Dr. Barbara Starfield: Medically Caused Death in America https://jonrappoport.wordpress.com/2009/12/09/an-exclusive-interview-with-dr-barbara-starfield-medically-caused-death-in-america/
3.) Child harmed or killed while walking with a parent inside a proper crosswalk.
4.) Walking with a parent in a parking lot and the child gets hit and killed.
I wouldn’t be surprised if you told me the majority of children who get harmed or killed ARE in the company of responsible adults and/or parents.
Hopefully Warren will no longer speak. He must be silenced.
Hopefully Warren will no longer speak. He must be silenced. End his reign
FFS!!! This affects my family. What does the Ministry for Social Development and Changing Our Name Every Couple Of Years And Kicking People Off Of Welfare plan to do? Single parents are supposed to be looking for work when their youngest turns 3, but there aren’t enough daycare spaces available for normal working hours, let alone the working hours needed for a lot of the jobs out there. *headdesk*
So, I can’t leave my 9 year old home alone anymore for the hour or so I need for errand running. I have to be at home for their return from school? *headdesk* Okay. Time for a protest.
“Do you seriously think that a child, who at a month short of 10 has never been allowed to cross a street by herself, is in any way capable of staying home by herself?”
Yes, because crossing a street and sitting on a sofa playing on your ipad are not the same. Sitting inside a house, with access to food and entertainment is not the same as crossing an intersection with moving targets.
I know a lot of adults who can’t safely cross a street (have you ever been to the Jersey Shore?!)
Sitting alone inside a house after school is not rocket science.
Maybe your Southern girls are more delicate than our Yankee 8 year-olds. My youngest is 9 but she has biked to school (under the supervision of her siblings) since she was 5. She’s in 4th grade now and oldest in her group and bikes 6, 7, and 9 year-olds every day. They do it very well. Most of them come home to empty houses but are perfectly capable of eating snacks, doing homework, or playing outside with all of the other kids until their parents get home from work. There is a ton of work at home parents (like me) who are known to these kids and can help out if needed.
I’m so glad I live in a normal neighborhood.
TrollBuster, you’re drunk, go home!
I didn’t say it was correct way to treat children, but it is the way many children are raised today. My child is surrounded by kids who have never been taught even the most basic skills necessary to stay home alone at 8 or even now at 10. In fact, they’ve been raised to believe that they are currently completely incapable of doing anything without adult supervision. Saying that these kids are truly capable of staying home alone is ridiculous. I certainly wouldn’t trust them alone in my house. I like my house.
So, yes, IN THEORY, every 8 year old is capable of staying home alone. In practice, large amounts of 8 years olds are being raised in such a way that they are completely incapable of doing so.
It has nothing to do with southern or northern and everything to do with the specific parents who are raising the children (most of whom are not from the south). It is an odd neighborhood of highly educated, aging hipsters who have scaled-back careers (at least one parent) for the sole purpose of raising children and can’t let go now that the kids are aging because they don’t exactly know what to do with themselves. Most seem to get out of the way a good bit more when middle school hits, but seem a little lost in their expectations for their older elementary school age kids.
Take a hike.
Saying Vancouver, Canada is like saying Buffalo, United States. Technically it is Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Thank you very much. Our provinces are just as important to us as your states are to you.
I hope that this mother is not done. I do not see how a judge can just change the law. And setting an arbitrary age does change the existing laws. One of the things that should be brought up are the stats on poisonings while home alone, as compared to the poisonings that occur while a parent is home. Same for all the other risks that this idiot social worker brings up. This social worker testified to her own personal opinion. Even the most revered experts have to back up their position with data.
Donna, my daughter is almost 13 and I am shocked at the number of her friends that aren’t allowed to be home by themselves or go places without an adult. If she wants to go to the mall and wander around, she has friends whose parents won’t let them go unless an adult stays there and checks in with them frequently.
Greg raises a good point. If you are in court and some expert is testifying against your position, you better have an attorney and your own experts. If you don’t, then you are taking a huge risk. A judge isn’t an expert on child development and has to rely on other opinions. Your attorney has be able to cross examine the experts and should be putting experts that support your position on the stand.
Abuse ‘epidemic’ in England? Is this anything like the preschool sex abuse scandals of the 80s and 90s? The one that was debunked?
I was just kidding about the regional differences. I have no doubt there are sheltered girls who never leave their parent’s watchful eye and have extremely limited real life skills as a result of someone doing everything for them. I I wouldn’t trust some of them in my house, either. There are many parents who think it’s their *job* to do everything for their kids after they left the workforce. They drive me nuts and their kids usually do too. I call them the Needy friends and we especially avoid sleepovers (though some of them aren’t allowed to do them anyway).
One of the girls my daughter bikes with every day (she’s 9) has an after school babysitter every day. This, despite her brother (15) and sister (12) being home with her after school . The parents don’t think the older siblings can handle the responsibility of caring for this 4th grader. So they hire a variety of sitters (3 different college students) to help the 9 year-old with homework, get her a snack, and play with her one on one. When she comes to my house, she still expects me to cut up her food at meals (I do teach her how to do it herself). Yet they let her ride her bike to school with the other kids, which she loves. I cannot figure it out.
Warren speaks. He must not speak, or write. He obviously does not think.
Each statement he makes is pompous and wrong. Each word, letter, and thought are wrong and must be banned. This site will immeasurably improve.
I have to admit that when I was 8 and home alone I broke a glass coffee table with a knife while chopping an apple, and used to make fireballs on the stove using aerosol sprays. 🙂
“However, as the father of four sons â€” three of whom were molested by men while living with their single Moms â€” I think you underestimate the dangers that children face, especially when raised by a single mother. ”
That’s terrible, and I’m very sorry to hear it. However, it doesn’t show why children must always have an adult present – if anything, quite the opposite. Mom’s boyfriend would count as adult supervision as far as this judge’s ruling is concerned, and in fact, such a ruling would make a single mom more likely to leave her kid with her boyfriend as babysitter to satisfy the law.
Lenore often makes the point here that much of the harm that befalls children happens around and/or at the hands of people they know, not strangers. “Supervision” won’t prevent harm if the supervisor is the one doing the harm.
I was a latchkey kid who also walked home starting in 2nd grade. We started it with our 10 year old now, but that was because the 14 year old is on a different schedule. So far no issues.
All that rampant, unpunished child abuse in Canada and England only happens in the Muslim no-go areas where they have Sharia law. I’ve got a map here, somewhere…
Wow, @Megan. “All social workers….” That’s a big call. And pretty bloody offensive, to be honest.
As it’s been pointed out, social workers in a variety of settings and are highly accountable to a variety of acts of parliaments, and are often indeed experts in matters such as child development, mental health, drug addiction. When I bring a mater before the court on an issue of child protection, I have to provide very good evidence or my colleagues and I are ripped to shreds by the local magistrate. She does it frequently. We are given no special treatment in my local court.
And for the record, I for one do not generate work to keep my job. Unfortunately, in the town where I live, there are plenty of drug addicted, violent, mentally ill and otherwise very troubled people who are manifestly unable to parent their children (not to imply that every mentally ill person can’t parent, before the trolls jump down my throat). My job is well intact.
Do I agree with he social worker and the ruling in this case? Absolutely not! With the information I have ( I readily concede that I may not have access to the full story) I think THIS social worker and THIS judge are complete idiots. I leave my 9 year old home alone for a couple of hours on a regular basis. She is sensible and resourceful. That’s how I raised her.
@Trollbuster: “Hopefully Warren will no longer speak. He must be silenced.”
Eh… When you wrote that, Warren hadn’t even commented on this blog post yet. In fact, in total he had left two (2) comments on the last five (5) posts.
I am a child protection worker who leaves her 8 yr old home alone at times. And had my 9 year old son take public transit to school alone. I’m constantly pushing the parents I work with to give their kids more responsibility and challenges. They’re so afraid of… I point out stats on crime, remind them of what they did at that age. Kids who are given adequate challenges and appropriate risks to take are much less likely to rebel. They don’t need to because they have an appropriate amount of freedom, have strong self-esteem, and are busy in positive activities. But it takes time and effort to know your child, what he is ready for, and teach skills needed for independence. And guts to let them try new things while displaying confidence in their abilities.
Although this errant nonsense is from Vancouver, BC, it’s also taken root in the USA. I think The Honourable Justice Robert Punnett of the Supreme Court of British Columbia is an idiot, or maybe he was raised in bubble wrap. He’s apparently a few years younger than I, but that’s no excuse.
If this were law when I was a kid, my parents would have been thrown into prison and I would have been sent to a foster home or orphanage. No doubt that prospect makes the nannies salivate.
From second grade, age 8, I was routinely home from mid-afternoon after school until my parents got home from work. We lived a few miles outside town and I rode the school bus. Not only that, I was expected to mow an acre or so every couple weeks with a power mower before they got home.
Many, maybe most, of the kids I knew at the time were similar “latchkey” kids. Some were driving tractors and plowing fields by age 10 or so. Nobody got killed, either by accident or by criminal strangers. We all grew up, and most went on to college and careers.
I don’t know where these state nannies come from, or how they got to positions of legal and political power. It looks like somebody made some terrible mistakes raising them to be afraid of anything that moves. If these nannies get their way, today’s kids won’t know how to tie their own shoes until they’re 21.
2 â€“ They also know they will have lots of work investigating all the â€œterribleâ€ parents who trust their kids to be fine for an hour or two. Job protection abounds!
That’s more than a little insulting to those of us who work in the social services field. Although my area of employment doesn’t involve children, I can’t imagine anyone in my office rubbing their hands with glee and saying “Oh goodie! Crime is up so we’ll have plenty of new clients! And, hey, let’s give poor counsel so everyone will re-offend and we’ll stay in business!”
While I don’t agree with the conclusions of the social worker, I doubt her motivation for intervening was profit driven.
I agree with Warren: I hope this is not the end. This mother needs to get a VERY good lawyer. The judge’s comments smack of no understanding of the rule of law: In his eyes, the social worker gets to write the law to her own understanding and must, as a government bureaucrat, be deferred to over the parent who knows the child.
Surely there is a legal aid organization in Canada that would take this on. The precedent here–both on the 10 year old minimum not being written in the law but essentially written in by a judge, and the idea that the social worker is to automatically be deferred to as an expert–needs to be challenged vigorously. This is worse than the NJ case about the child being left in the car for a few minutes: In that case, the next court up overturned unanimously. One can hope, for the sake of parents in Canada, that the Canadian supreme court would do the same.
Anyone can bully. It’s easy to get the government to do it for you.
“Saying Vancouver, Canada is like saying Buffalo, United States. Technically it is Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Thank you very much. Our provinces are just as important to us as your states are to you.”
Unless, of course, you’re talking about the Vancouver that’s in the U.S.
54-40 or Fight!
“Each statement he makes is pompous and wrong. Each word, letter, and thought are wrong and must be banned. This site will immeasurably improve.”
Perhaps you should try simply not reading what he has to say. I usually don’t, broke the rule to see if he’d suddenly gotten worse, or better or whatever, and… meh. Should’ve just kept on doing what I’d been doing.
“Perhaps you should try simply not reading what he has to say.” This comment broke my irony meter.
Go back to not reading, please and thank you. I prefer it that way.
And yes I know you have a Vancouver. There are many duplicated names in our countries. I now see what your students were talking about when they posted reviews of your teachings. All of them agreed they would never take one of your courses again. Arrogant, know it all is how they put it. So you are the same in real life as online. Nobody likes you.
@Anna – would have broken mine too, I’m sure, but I am too blinded by tears of laughter to check…
On topic, whether or not you can leave an 8 year old at home is definitely up to the particular kid….and the parent, the parent, the parent knows best. Some of my current batch of kids could probably be trusted to look after themselves overnight on occasion, and others can’t be trusted by themselves for a minute alone in the classroom.
Let the parents decide!
I was a latchkey child from age 6 1/2 on, and I never got kidnapped or suffered any other injuries.
I stand by my comment about social workers, in the U.S. (I don’t bloody well live in the U.K.) Every one of them I have known, and that includes those in private jobs as well as the child “protection” racket, is a mainstream thinker suspicious of views that challenge conventional wisdom. As such, I consider them anti-progress. Some of them may technically be accountable, but it is also my experience that the social workers and bureaucrats in various tiers of the aforementioned racket first cover their own asses, and then those of their peers, taking away any semblance of accountability. And, no, I have not seen how they are accountable to anyone else, even though they may technically be so, and I’ve looked into it. I agree with the person who said they have a hero complex, though I call it a “crusader” self-image, which they use to deflect criticism; either way it’s a good thing to stay far away from.
Cops are professionals too, but I wouldn’t trust one as far as I could throw him if I were black.
If a CPS worker is deemed an expert on how fast children mature in general, why is the mother not deemed an expert on how fast her particular child has matured?
Were e.g. the teachers of that child called upon as witnesses too, or other people who are familiar with that particular child?
“I now see what your students were talking about”
You’re researching me online, now? More than a little stalker-y.
And I just moved to British Columbia because I believed it would provide more freedom to raise my kids. My youngest is 8 and ironically in Alberta I could have legally left her at home alone at times, and have. Thanks Canada. And I can’t even really blame Harper for this one. But I will anyway.
“Each statement he makes is pompous and wrong. Each word, letter, and thought are wrong and must be banned. This site will immeasurably improve.”
Um. Have you MET James Pollack?
Not only is Warren a blowhard, he is a stalker. It is impossible to not ignore his writing, as the stench is incredible. He should be banned from this site, the Internet, and from making any and all types of communication. RETURN TO YOUR HOLE
@Beth: Yeah, Trollbuster definitely has the wrong target…
@Trollbuster: “It is impossible to not ignore his writing”
Then what’s the problem?
“It is impossible to not ignore his writing”
If it is impossible to not ignore his writing, how on earth do you even know he is writing?
You are the one that a long time ago encouraged us to check you out, to back up all the claims you were making. How does that make it stalking. You invited it. Ever heard, “Be careful what you wish for.”.
Now to the topic at hand. This lady needs to get better legal representation. There is no way a court should be accepting a social worker as an expert. Not in poisons, fire, or most other risks. Maybe on child abuse, spousal abuse and related issues.
I would strongly suggest she get in touch with her MP and/or MPP immediately. They can help.
James (and trollbuster)
I agree. I just ignore Warren too and don’t read what he writes. While I don’t disagree with some of the things he says, the way he says them reflect poorly on the freerange parenting movement (being rude, arrogant, etc). He’s also supposedly held every job in the book and is an expert at it (yeah not buying it).
Magic ages work! At 7 or 8 or 9 the child is unable to care for themselves for two seconds, but at 10 they are magically able to do so. And without ever having a moment of practice!
I agree but I would ad this. CPS social workers are usually the worst of the social workers. It is a bottom of the barrel job. The best social workers can usually support themselves on a private practice or work at a hospital (considered top of the line jobs). Mediocre social workers work a schools, drug rehabs, youth charities, domestic violence shelters, and homeless shelters. CPS is where the dumbest and least competent go/those desperate for employment.
What you call arrogant, I call confident. Big difference. As for the job thing, I have been in tires and transportation all my life. The difference between an adequate tire tech. and a great tire tech. is the ability to learn. The ability to know about the industries and machinery one serves. There is a great deal of knowledge out there, and only a fool ignores it. Now should tire techs need to be able to trouble shoot and repair air and electrical systems on trailers? No, but the good ones can and do. Should a tire tech know about the hydraulic systems on the machines? No, but the great ones do. Also, an intelligent person can take what they know from one industry or area, and practically apply it to another. Have I had every job out there? No, but there are few areas that I walk into that I cannot manage to take my experience and apply it.
Sorry you have never met someone as confident in themselves as I, but that is your issue not mine.
First, full disclosure, I am a family lawyer practicing in British Columbia and I am familiar with a number of the legal professionals involved in this case. I frequently represent parents fighting against the child protection authorities when those authorities have overstepped.
Both the original newspaper article and the summary on this website seem to have missed the most important point from the Supreme Court’s decision, which was that the Supreme Court can’t substitute its own judgment for that of the Provincial Court that first heard the case except where there has been an egregious legal error. The Supreme Court judge here simply said that there were no such errors, so he could not overturn the first judge’s decision. The Supreme Court judge was not deciding any of the actual issues of the case, including if there should be a minimum age for children to be left alone.
It is also a characteristic of the British Columbia child protection legislation that the first court hearing, the presentation hearing, is not a trial or hearing of the evidence where the judge decides who to believe. It is instead an extra check on social worker discretion to make sure that there is some basis for their intervention. The full hearing comes later. In effect, this first hearing is to make sure that social workers aren’t grossly overstepping their bounds. As with most complaint-driven processes, the social worker only intervened because someone had made a complaint about this particular child, which triggered an investigation. I’m not agreeing with the results of that investigation, but it’s not as if the social worker was looking for unattended children to investigate in the interests of job security.
The judge also agreed that the Legislature in BC has not imposed a legal minimum age for children to be left unattended and that issue should be decided on a case by case basis. In this case, the mother refused to allow the social worker to talk to the child, so it would be impossible for the social worker, or later the court, to determine if this particular child was ready to be home alone for a few hours.
Personally, I disagree with a mandatory minimum age to leave a child alone as it should be a case by case decision each parent must make. I also believe that the child protection system is often overbearing, capricious, and meddling where it is not needed. That being said, both the newspaper article and this post have overstated what the court decided here. This is not some landmark case setting out black and white rules for all families. It is a decision that a lower court judge did not make a legal error when he decided that a particular social worker wasn’t unreasonable to find that a particular child shouldn’t be left alone.
“Mediocre social workers work a schools, drug rehabs, youth charities, domestic violence shelters, and homeless shelters. CPS is where the dumbest and least competent go/those desperate for employment.”
1. Katie, what is your professional background and where do you work?
2. What qualifies you to make this sweeping judgement?
“I canâ€™t imagine anyone in my office rubbing their hands with glee and saying â€œOh goodie! Crime is up so weâ€™ll have plenty of new clients!”
I understand why you say that. But…
Unless a person holds a position at the highest level of a company, she is not likely to know the REAL motivating factors for why things are done the way they are at the lower levels. This happens everywhere.
At even at the highest levels there can be a lot of self-deception and dishonesty.
I don’t think many employees at hospitals and medical centers realize how big the profit motive is in determining “how” their businesses are run. Any of these people who do realize what’s going on are either deluding themselves about their procedures and practices or just don’t want to think about it because they want to keep their job.
I clicked submit on my last comment before remembering to add:
In this case, the mother also called no evidence at the first court hearing. The judge was left with nothing but the testimony of the social worker, meaning he had next to no choice but to agree with the child protection application. Family court is not criminal court, and the mother could not rely on any right to silence if she wanted the judge to agree with her point of view.
Thank you for providing your background and analysis. I had some lingering skepticism on the reach of this decision and questions about how it got here. Perhaps you can answer another lingering question. You speak of a first hearing. Will there be additional phases in the process where the mother would have a chance to put on a better defense of her parenting and have the order lifted?
Is there any opportunity for mom to propose her own version of a safety plan? I keep hearing about CPS safety plans that involve never leaving the youngster alone for any amount of time (sometimes even in a fenced yard). But why must a safety plan look like that? When I was 9 I could have sworn my parents had a safety plan. It involved rules like not answering the door while home alone. Skills, like how to render first aid. Disposition, like being able to calmly render first aid to myself after notable injuries. Knowledge, like when to call 911, and when an emergency was serious but sub 911 levels of urgent. And lots and lots of contacts, neighbors I could go to, phone numbers that would help me find my dad, or contact a neighbor.
“I keep hearing about CPS safety plans that involve never leaving the youngster alone for any amount of time (sometimes even in a fenced yard). But why must a safety plan look like that?”
A safety plan can be whatever CPS wants it to be, at least in the US. The only aim is to address the concerns however they can be addressed. Therefore, if CPS believed that it was okay for 8 year olds to stay home alone under certain conditions, then the safety plan would simply lay out those conditions. However, safety plans are not agreements negotiated by the parties. They are dictates by CPS. Some parents may have the ability to convince CPS to change its beliefs about some things, but this is not your typical agreement where both sides end up compromising in order to agree.
I’m a former Social Worker (not currently practicing by choice). I worked at the mediocre level. I could have worked for CPS right out of school if I wanted to-they were practically begging for people to work for CPS, even offering loan repayment-and I could have done this despite at the time not having taken classes in child related social work (I focused on adults and coursework related to this) and at the time I was young and didn’t even have any kids with my own or really much experience with kids other than a little bit of babysitting.
Thank you Charles H for your legal analysis and explanation. I was going to attempt it but I’m not a lawyer and would not have done nearly as good a job.
I encourage everyone to read Charles H’s post (Sept. 18; 1:54 p.m.) for a better understanding of what really has been decided in this case. It is NOT a precedent for future decisions.
If I wanted to kill myself, I would climb your ego, and jump to your IQ.
How many Warrens does it take to change a light bulb: None: He’d rather sit there in the dark.
I’m sure I’ve missed something over the past few weeks, but what is up troll buster – are you eight years old, or what? Why not just leave it alone, and Warren, alone?
This case proves that we have No Control when and if someone makes a claim about your child regardless of the age.
The Social Workers came to the house 4 weeks after the initial complaint. They did Not do ANY investigation for weeks following the initial bullying session. They showed up at the door and said they rec’d a complaint that an 8 1/2 year old was coming home after school and babysitting his 4 year old brother till mom got home after work. This accusation was quickly squashed and the Ministry was supplied with the Daycare #. The Ministry then asked if the 8 1/2 year old was being left home alone, the answer was yes. The child on occasion was allowed to stay home from 3:15 till 4:30 pm when the mother arrived from work. News reports say 2 hours from 3 until 5 which is Not True. This is not every school day as the child has 50% custody with his father. The ministry then informed us that this practice had to stop immediately as the child was too young according to their guidelines. We asked for the printed proof and Nothing could be provided. There is NO LAW as everyone knows. The Ministry then tried to manipulate us into signing a letter which stated: B.R. will no longer leave the children at home for ANY length of time for an undisclosed period of time. This was hand written by the Ministry Rep on Ministry letterhead right in front of us. The Ministry Rep then told us to sign the paper and they would go away and not bother us anymore!!! We laughed and said nothing was getting signed until we obtained legal advice. The Ministry Rep then lost her cool and proceeded to yell at us for being difficult and that we Have to sign the letter. They requested an interview with the child Alone and we refused—Ministry rep lost her cool again and told us she had to interview the child as it is part of their job!! We refused and said we needed to talk to a lawyer first.
They gave us 4 days to consult a lawyer, They showed up Monday morning with court papers. Again bully tactic!! At this point the Ministry still had not done ANY investigation by contacting the Daycare who has looked after both kids since they were 6 months old. 2 weeks went by and the Ministry went to the child’s school and obtained an interview WITHOUT parents knowing or being contacted!!! I guess the Ministry can just do whatever THEY want…their conclusion to the interview with the child was that his Safety Plan explanation seemed coached or rehearsed….no shit–he knew it because it WAS the plan!! The home alone plan was taught to the child and practiced! The house is equipped with a fully monitored alarm system and the child knows to hit all the emergency keys so that ALL emergency services show up if something should happen.
This All started due to a disgruntled neighbor directly across the street who works for the Ministry. She was upset over a parking issue and thought she would use her contacts to prove a point!!! Brutal !!
The Ministry wasted a shit load of tax payers money on a case where it was not necessary to…this cost the mother over $15 thousand in legal fees to date and unfortunately has no more resources to fight this case.
It sure would be great to have a legal source continue so the Ministry is held accountable for their actions in this case…It is a scary thought to know that any parent with a child under 10 years old is @ risk of having their life turned upside down if someone has a grudge against them!!
There has Never been any complaints to the Ministry with this family in the past and this case has now spread all over the country. The entire neighborhood is in an uproar as it is full of kids under the age of 10 and the common practice is now in question.
Its a helpless feeling!! 🙁
“Um. Have you MET James Pollack?”
I haven’t, either.
Charles H September 18, 2015 at 1:58 pm wrote:
So, if I might translate for those familiar with USA law. It appears that the Supreme Court decided not to dismiss the case on the basis of legal error at (something like) the preliminary hearing to determine whether there is probable cause to proceed to trial. So the lower court case can proceed. Apparently the next steps in the lower court case will determine, on the basis of evidence to be presented by both the family and the child protection agency, whether the child was in fact mature and competent enough to be left alone at home for the length of time he was left alone.
Thank you, Charles H. I should have read the actual decision instead of relying on second hand reports before forming my opinion that The Honourable Justice Robert Punnett is an idiot. His decision was forced by law because the family had presented no evidence at the (something like) preliminary hearing to determine cause to proceed.
Presumably, at trial the parents will be able to demolish the social worker’s theoretical opinion with factual evidence.
Unfortunately, it appears that in Canada as well as in the USA, the punishment wreaked upon defendants when the accusation is false, is the legal process itself.
Charles, thank you for providing an analysis of the decision.
In my state (Michigan), proceedings where CPS is involved can be very inconsistent because of the judges and their personal opinions on certain parenting practices. This results in a lot of appellate cases dealing with these cases. I also don’t favor any kind of bright line rule for when kids can be left home, but this seems to make a situation where too many people are being dragged into court.
@Megan. @ Katie. On what information do you base these offensive allegations? Stereotypes like these are how racists and misogynists and homophobes justify their positions. I am not a social worker by training, although I work in the welfare sector and share the same work as social workers. We are your “barrel bottom scrapers”. I have worked in this job (child protection) for 20 years. I have no doubt that I could make way more money as a psychologist in private practice, or as an organisational psychologist for a multi-national corporation. But apparently to your great surprise, it ain’t all about the money. I genuinely believe that the world would be a better place if children were not traumatised by violence, sexual abuse, parental neglect (as opposed to conscious free-range parenting) and emotional abuse. I have genuine optimism that us barrel scrapers can make a difference, and help prevent this trauma happening or at least help children recover from trauma, so we don’t end up with a generation of people who live chaotic lives with no capacity to regulate their own emotions or exercise any form of impulse control, resulting in abusive relationships, homelessness, ill-health, drug addiction……and so the cycle repeats.
If I was in it for the money, I am well qualified for many other positions. If I was in the public service for the kudos, I would have become a firefighter. Who doesn’t love a fire fighter? Instead, I run the gauntlet every day of; the parents who don’t want me in their life and frequently verbally abuse and try to intimidate me because they can’t see the damage they’re doing to their kids and they don’t like change, the media who loves to wring every drop of drama out of child protection that they possibly can and seem to genuinely believe that child protection workers, not parents, kill children; and the Department heads who are beholden to a conservative government that I certainly didn’t vote for, but which insists on higher and higher “through-put” stats each year (because kids are just stats to parade for the media) while every year cutting budgets because income tax cuts win votes. This is all on top of doing my actual job. At the end of the day, I wouldn’t leave though, because it’s all about the kids. And anyway, I am privileged to work with the best people anyone could ever hope to work with.
trollbuster=James?? Inquiring minds want to know.
“trollbuster=James?? Inquiring minds want to know.”
In other loony conspiracy theories, I’m also the Queen of England and the Secretary of the Treasury.
I am not James. My only desire is to ban insipid, stupid people like Warren from the Internet. He should cease writing and return to his hole
You’re both wrong, though in different ways.
So this was BC’s supreme court. Canada has a federal supreme court that this can be appealed to, right?
@ Havva: This first hearing, called a presentation hearing, is designed to be quick and dirty justice, with the judge not even being allowed to decided who they believe. The only standard is that there is some evidence, which if believed, would show that the Social Worker needed to get involved. The real hearing is called a protection hearing and is supposed to happen within 45 days of the first hearing. There both sides can call their own evidence and the judge can better weigh who should be believed and what this particular child needs.
Safety plans are supposed to be negotiated and should involved the slightest amount of intervention that still protects children. In the real world, as with all negotiations, those with leverage get to dictate terms, and the Social Workers almost always have the leverage as they have that window of time until the protection hearing where they will not be overruled by any outside authority. That leads to SWs setting which terms they want and parents often being given the choice to agree without changes or to have their children taken into the care of the government.
On a more general level, the government in BC (and many other jurisdictions) has decided that is is preferable to give Social Workers wide latitude at the early stages to allow them to jump in where a child may be harmed. The gov’t would rather that they err on the side of too much intervention rather than leaving children in potentially harmful circumstances. While many, including myself, believe that the current balance leaves too much discretion in the hands of front-line workers, it would take real political will to create change. After all, government services are frequently crucified by the public when they leave a child in the line of danger and that child is seriously hurt or killed but they are much less likely to be shamed or criticized for being too interventionist.
One major source of change may be if there is academic research indicating that children in the care of the government are at risk of more harm than if they were left in the care of their parents. As it stands, courts generally accept as a universal truth that foster care is safe, which I’m not sure is actually the case.
The reporters took this case out of context and put profound headlines on it.
I read the actual BC SC judgement – this is an appeal from a Provincial Court judgement. The appeal judge in this situation does not have a way to replace his own opinion of the facts that were in front of PC judge. There were no facts given to the provincial judge, besides the Social Worker’s generalized view of maturity of 10-year olds. Unfortunatly the mother did not testify under oath to her child’s ability – if she did, the original Prov. Court decision could have been different.
But in any case, this judgement is NOT about an 8 y.o. or a 10 y.o. staying at home. This appeal is only about the Social Services getting an (interim) supervision order – this is NOT the same as a finding that the child is in need or intervention or protection.
Neither the PC judge, nor the BC SC judge, as I understand it, has found this particular child in need of intervention/protection. Nor did they make new case law that 8 y.o. can not be alone.
Reporters must stop spreading the panic. Because the social workers and the cops don’t learn the truth about these court cases from good sources, rather they read the headlines and think they can do crazy stuff. The judge is not to fault. The press are.
This is such a sticky issue b/c maturity is sometimes tied to necessity. I do agree there should be an age minimum requirement.
In addition to Charles H’s posts above, here is the actual court decision: B.R. v. K.K., 2015 BCSC 1658 (CanLII),
Also, in response to AlbertaParent’s post, it appears that whether or not B.R. v. K.K. has any binding legal precedent (which it shouldn’t, as Charles H explains), some parents and social workers are seizing on this case as meaning that no kids under 10 can be left alone at home:
‘To me that is abduction’: Kelowna single dad says home-alone court case led to social workers taking his kids
I’m glad that my daughter is now 15, and we will be spared this kind of scrutiny. As a single dad living in Vancouver with full custody while her mom was working outside of Canada for 4 years, I started training my daughter to be on her own starting when she was 8. We started with 5 minutes at a time (while I took out the trash, etc), then eventually increased the time period to 10 minutes, 15 etc. We used walkie-talkies to ensure that she could communicate with me if necessary.
When she was 9, I left her on her own for 3 hours one evening. By then, I had purchased a cellphone with an unlimited texting plan so that she could reach me. That first night she was on her own, our building had a fire alarm! (False, as it turned out.) Not only did she calmly follow the correct procedure for exiting the building, she had far more preparation and common sense than any of the adults; she took a jacket and her phone, so she could text me right away once she was outside.
She first looked after herself overnight when she was 12. She was able to cook dinner for herself, and did her homework too. She started walking home from school on her own or with friends when she was 12 (although it’s normal in this part of Vancouver BC for kids to walk home from school starting around 10, the distances are quite close).
I have to confess that my greatest fear while I was “free-ranging” my kid wasn’t a fear of abduction or traffic accident; it was a fear that a busybody would call 911 just because our society seems to be headed to a new norm of permanent infantilization of children and young adults.
Now that my daughter is 15, she has the lifeskills training so that she can take care of herself for several days (she house-sat for a week over the summer, just a 10 minute walk away from me). I don’t have to worry that she will be able to live independently when she turns 18, so I personally think that I’ve succeeded in this aspect of parenting.
Huh, I guess this blog doesn’t allow hyperlinks. I’ll try again, with spaces in the hyperlink (copy, paste into browser, delete the spaces in the URL, and click Go).
B.R. v. K.K., 2015 BCSC 1658 (CanLII),
‘To me that is abduction’: Kelowna single dad says home-alone court case led to social workers taking his kids