In the summer of 2013, a Canadian mom left her 6-year-old boy home alone for 90 minutes while she ran some errands. No one disputes that the house was locked and that the boy had plenty of food and water (and TV), nor that the boy was anything other than fine. Nonetheless, the mom was charged with child abandonment. She lost custody and hasn’t seen her son since her arrest. She has been fighting in Manitoban court to get him back ever since.
The judge’s ruling in this case could set a harmful precedent for families with “latchkey kids” who spend some time by themselves at home after school while their parents work.
Prosecutor Nancy Fazenda has argued that “Even in a home environment, that child was endangered.” But the mom’s lawyer, Michael Law, warned the judge: “If you were to convict in this case, you would be bringing the law into a new realm, it would be unprecedented,” according to The Winnipeg Free Press.
It would not be totally unexpected, however, in that our culture tends to believe that any child who is not supervised 24/7 is in danger. That’s why the Maryland couple that let their 10- and 6-year-old children walk home from the park was investigated by Child Protective Services. It wasn’t that something bad happened, or even was likely to. Only that the parents had allowed their children to be on their own for a bit. How dare they? Any childhood independence is considered dangerous by bullying bureaucrats, even though the actual crime rate has been dropping for decades.