By Jennifer Pinarski
The questions about "how old" and "how long for" are the two most often asked questions when it comes to leaving children alone. For some parents, even leaving a child unattended in a locked car for a few seconds on a temperate spring day is too long. For other parents, letting a mature school-age kid stay home alone after school is acceptable. As it stands now in Canada, there are no hard and fast laws about how old kids should be before they are considered mature enough to be left alone in a house. In Ontario, the Child and Family Services Act states that says that "a person who has charge of a child less than 16 years of age cannot leave the child without making provision for his/her care or supervision that is reasonable under the circumstances". According to the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies, the Act recognizes that age alone is not a sufficient safeguard for the supervision of children. I am sure we all know mature 8 year olds and immature 15 year olds.
However a riviting case before a Manitoba judge could signal changes to these murky guidelines, which vary from province to province. In 2013, a Winnipeg mother left her then six year old son alone for 90 minutes in her locked suburban home. She provided food, water and a television. She has also been charged with child abandonment, a serious charge which carries a sentence of up to five years in prison should be be convicted.
Photo: Brad Flickinger via Flickr.