Just two days after the British Columbia Supreme Court ruled that a social worker was allowed to insist an 8 year old boy not be left alone two hours after school, despite his mom’s belief that he was fine, a dad had his daughters, 8 an 11, seized from his home on the same premise. Martin Solotki told the Province newspaper that:
…last Thursday he got texted at work at 9:30 p.m. by his ex-wife, who said she’d taken his daughters on behalf of a social worker. He says he ran home and called the RCMP a number of times to report his daughters missing. Several hours later he was on the phone with a social worker screaming at him that “if it were up to her I wouldn’t be seeing my kids again,” according to Solotki.
He says he believes his ex-wife and a social worker had been watching a court review of a Terrace family law case. And hours after a ruling came down last Thursday, they cited the case as the authority to seize his girls, Solotki says.
The B.C. Supreme Court “Terrace” case does not seem to state that no children can ever be at home alone. But it does seem to rule that the judgment of a social worker can trump that of the parent:
In the Terrace case a B.C. Supreme Court judge said a provincial court judge hearing a supervision-order presentation did not err in trusting a social worker’s opinion that kids under 10 are too young to be left alone. The Terrace case involved an eight-year-old boy who left school on weekdays at 3 p.m. and stayed at home unsupervised until 5 p.m. while his mom was at work. The woman’s ex-husband complained to a social worker, who visited the child’s home and sought a supervision order.
The woman appealed the trial judge’s granting of a supervision order based on one social worker’s opinion of child-maturity norms. She argued the social worker shouldn’t have had broad discretion over a parent, solely on the opinion that kids under 10 shouldn’t be left unsupervised, since B.C. doesn’t have statutes that define when kids are too young to be left alone.
The Ministry of Children and Families will not comment on the case, but offers the broad “guideline” that kids 12 and over can safely be left home alone.
Twelve? Why not 22? I wonder if the Ministry of Children and Families ever considers the burden on children and families who have a hard time affording babysitters till age 12, not to mention the message this “guideline” sends kids: You’re not even competent to sit at the kitchen table and do homework on your own till you reach puberty. There’s too much “danger.”
Now, I realize that since the dad is a bouncer, his nights are probably quite late. But not every childhood situation is ideal. That doesn’t make it dangerous, just sub-optimal. That is not something we should criminalize.
While Solotki has had kids returned to him, he had to promise he would make sure they are supervised until his older daughter turns 12.