Skenazy: British Columbia S.C. rules ‘latchkey kids’ illegal
An 8-year-old cannot stay home alone, even for two hours after school, the Supreme Court of British Columbia just ruled.
A mom had been doing just that, without any problems, until a social worker was alerted to the situation (possibly by the woman’s husband, from whom she is separated). According 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 ... to agree to a ‘safety plan.’ 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 she brought him up.
And she is not alone. In most of the world, kids start getting themselves to school, by foot, bike or bus — on their own — at age 7. Yet the social worker ordered the British Columbia boy to be supervised for six months.
Even worse, the worker testified that “children who are 8 years of age do not have the cognitive ability to be left unsupervised” and went on to cite various risks, including accidental poisoning and fires, which could arise “regardless of (the boy’s) level of maturity.” That was enough to persuade a judge to rule against the mom.
This is classic “worst-first thinking” — thinking up the worst-case scenario first and proceeding as if it were likely to happen. Our culture has been trained to do this automatically, to the point where we believe that an unsupervised child is ipso facto in grave danger — even though we all remember our own childhoods, when our parents legally let us play outside or come home to an empty house. An entire generation of latchkey children survived and thrived.
The mom appealed this first ruling and insisted that the social worker’s opinion was just that — opinion. But this week, the Supreme Court of British Columbia judge ruled that “social workers have a statutory duty to be truthful, to be honest, to be complete and to do their very best.”
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 is 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.
The court’s ruling means that parents must now:
1) Find and pay for child care, even when a child is old enough not to need it.
2) Treat their kids like babies, even when they see them growing up. And worst of all:
3) Second-guess every rational, loving 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, must fantasize about all the far-fetched dangers that could possibly happen and overreact just as hysterically 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, “saving” your child even from the dangers of having a snack, doing homework and watching some TV.
Helicopter parenting has become the law of the land in British Columbia.
Lenore Skenazy is author of the book and blog “Free-Range Kids.”