When I was nine, I stayed home by myself all day. This was not the first time my parents would allow me stay home by myself, but it was the first time all day. I would take my bike out of the garage one day a week, and then pedal my way to my piano teacher's house for lessons. I'd pedal on back home and put my bike back in the garage. I was careful to make sure that the front door was locked, and that the garage door remote was in my knapsack along with the books. I was responsible.
But today if my parents allowed me to do that in Ontario, it would be illegal. It would also have been illegal for me to watch my younger brother at home all day when I was 11. The age in which you can stay home by yourself is 10, and you have to be at least 12 to watch anybody else. You're also expected to take a course on it.
Thankfully the law is not strictly enforced. Last year there was a case where a mother left her 9 year old at home by himself for an hour. I'm not sure if it was Christmas shopping or a job interview, but the babysitter canceled and the mother was stuck. CAS investigated but determined that the 9 year old, despite being under the age limit, was mature enough to have stayed home by himself. In other words, she wasn't being neglectful.
It's also illegal to leave anyone under the age of 12 alone in the car. Just to remind you: yes they can be 10 and at home alone, but not alone in the car. Not even to go pay for gas or make a deposit at the bank. To me that's ridiculous. If you can trust a 10 year old to warm something up in the microwave without setting the house on fire, why can't you trust that if the 10 year old gets too hot or cold they would do something about it like walk into the store?
To me this whole thing is an overstepping of government, a violation of subsidiarity. A parent is capable of assessing their particular situation and deciding what risks are okay for their child and what aren't. It may be legal for a 10 year old to be home alone, but what if that child had some sort of disability and should not be at home alone? What about the mature 9 year old like I was?
I just get tired of everything about parenting being turned into legal jargon and big time prosecutions. The state started intervening in abuse cases in the 70s that were true abuse and neglect cases. Now parents are fearing prosecution for leaving their 9 year olds at home for an hour. Now parents are afraid to get second opinions or go into different hospitals for fear of child abuse allegations (see Pelletier case). Now parents fear leaving their infants strapped into car seats out of the cold and wind to go pay for their gas.
Whatever happened to parental discretion? Why is society infantalizing children?