Free-Range Kids

8-Year-Olds Can't Be Left Alone in British Columbia. No Exceptions.

Making helicopter parenting the law of the land.

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Kids
Dreamstime

An 8-year-old cannot stay home alone, even for two hours after school, British Columbia's Supreme Court just ruled.

A mom had been doing just that, without any problems, until a social worker was alerted to the situation. (Possibly by the husband from whom the mom 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 — identified only as B.R. in court documents — 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 he was raised. Traditionally, parents raise their kids so that gradually those kids can take responsibility for themselves. In most of the world, this is normal and good. From Switzerland to Swaziland, kids start getting themselves to school, by foot, bike, or bus—on their own—at age 7. And yet the social worker ordered the boy to be supervised for six months.

Even worse:

The social worker testified that, in her opinion "children who are eight years of age do not have the cognitive ability to be left unsupervised," citing various risks, including accidental poisoning or fires, which could arise "regardless of (the boy)'s level of maturity."

On the strength of that evidence, the judge accepted that children under the age of 10 could not be safely left alone.

Evidence? What evidence? All the social worker did was give an opinion. She dreamed up some very rare risks and then said that a child—no matter what his maturity level—would have a hard time dealing with them alone.

This is classic "worst-first thinking"—thinking up the very worst case scenario and proceeding as if it's likely to happen. Our culture's problem is that we have been trained to automatically fantasize about disaster anytime we hear of a child alone, as if simply being unsupervised = death. The mother attempted to counteract this knee-jerk tendency, but to no avail:

The mother appealed the decision, contending there was no basis for the judge to conclude the eight-year-old was in need of protection. In her appeal, the mother said the social worker usurped the function of the legislature, given that no minimum age for leaving a child alone for a short period is prescribed by statute.

She also maintained that the social worker's evidence was tendered as expert opinion and was improperly admitted, and that children mature at different times.

However, Punnett ruled that "great deference" must be given to social workers in such cases and that her testimony was valid.

"The 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. In fact, such paranoia keeps them in business.

As for parents, now they must:

  • Find and pay for childcare, even when a child is old enough not to need it.
  • Treat their kids like babies, even when they want to give them more responsibility and show their kids that they believe in them.
  • Second guess every 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, have to fantasize about all the dangers that could possibly unfold, no matter how far-fetched, and overreact just as ridiculously as the social workers and courts.

In other words, the state is insisting that parents think obsessive, negative thoughts and then act on them.

If letting your kid wait at home for two hours is criminal because there could be a fire, if letting your kid wait in the car for 5 minutes is criminal because you could forget him, if letting your kid walk home from the park is criminal because he could be abducted, then parents have no choice but to be helicopter parents. Helicopter parenting becomes the law of the land.

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  1. How about putting your kids into a small boat without life jackets for a dangerous trip on rough seas?

    1. Well, those people, who actually managed to get their kid killed, are victims and heros and we should encourage everyone to do what they did by giving them an easy life if they succeed.

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  2. Fuck that social worker and all those parasites. They have a duty to be truthful WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT? I’m from the government and I know better than you and I can’t possibly be wrong. Jesus Fucking Christ

    1. Seems to be a rather big leap from a duty to be truthful to an assumption that they are both intending to be truthful and are correct all the time.

    2. Must be the social worker version of The New Professionalism. And just as deserved.

  3. OH hey, speaking of Libertarian moments:

    http://www.usnews.com/news/art…..prohibited

    The National Park Service announced Monday that electronic cigarette use is now banned anywhere smoking is prohibited on its vast and far-flung landholdings, despite unsettled science on possible health effects from secondhand vapor inhalation and what’s likely a minimal fire risk.

    1. Look for “Vapey the Bear” soon.

      1. I thought we were supposed to be on the lookout for Rapey the Bear.

        1. STEVE SMITH BEAT RAPEY BEAR IN NATIONAL PARK RAPE-OFF. RAPEY NEVER RAPE AGAIN IN THIS TOWN.

        2. No. no, that’s Hand Banana.

          1. The only ATHF episode in a long while that made me laugh.

    2. Good luck trying to bust people who are vaping. That’s the great thing about it; you can do it on a fucking plane if you’re careful. They just can’t know. So they can go jerk off to their toothless ban.

      (Also this ban is utterly unsurprising; the anti-smoking zealot animists cannot abide anything that even resembles smoking.)

      1. I do a little vaping now and again. I miss the real smoke sometimes, though. A friend found a good disposable vape that actually gives you the lung hit. Can’t remember the brand.

        1. Google sub ohm vaping. That’s what I switched to. You can make clouds with a sub ohm rig.

        2. You just need a more powerful base (as in battery base). I don’t prefer nicotine vaping (just hash oil) but a friend of mine does it and he wanted big, huge hits and he just kept upping the power until he got them. Of course, don’t do that on a plane because it’s visually conspicuous as hell.

        3. The Vuse ecigs by RJ Reynolds have a pretty high nic content and pretty good hit for a cigarette sized battery. The downside is that each cartridge is ~$3.00 (sold in 2-packs for around $6) so it is extremely expensive. I also think the nic level is just too high- if you like to puff a lot (and I do almost all day) you get about a pack of cigarettes in a single day.

          V2 Cigs seem to do pretty good, and are much more reasonable in price. I just started using them. They don’t last as long between charges, but the cartridges last longer and they have various nic levels.

          I used to use refillable cartomizers on an ePipe and on a standard battery, but I just got sick of leaking despite trying 3 or 4 brands. The V2 Cig has a wax/eliquid attachment that I plan to try out in the next week.

          1. it is extremely expensive

            A pack of cigarettes is either $9 where I work or anywhere from $10.50 to $12.50 where I live.

            This sounds like a steal.

      2. It looks like smoking, therefore it is bad.

    3. How many of those areas have smoking banned because of the fire hazard?

      I want to start selling little sticks with lights on the end that aren’t e-cigs just for the purpose of fucking with these bans.

      1. Maybe something that LOOKS like an e-cig, but isn’t? You just suck on it and it lights up. That’s all. No vapor or nicotine inside.

        1. Already available. Just use it after the cartridge is empty!

  4. Christ, every time my home province shows up in the news, I preemptively cringe. With good reason, turns out.

    1. Where you at in BC wigga?

      1. Vancouver. Which is becoming super-retarded on e-cigs, to connect it to above post.

        1. I was strolling through the mean streets of Victoria several years ago, and stopped at the entrance to a smoke shop. The kindly gentlemen out front said to be sure to not take my (then six yr old?) daughter in with me.

          I said to him, “Oh no, not you guys too?”

          He laughed and we engaged in a friendly conversation about the retardation on smoking laws.

  5. Every time I hear someone say private courts, private police, and victim prosecution won’t work because only trained professionals know what they are doing, I want to scream that the human race got to where it is without professional elite guidance, and put them under the professional care of a professional nanny all day long, at their expense.

    Every case I hear of parents abusing a kid, I think of cases like this, where the State gangs up in all its professional glory to abuse entire families because the kids might, one chance in million, get in trouble, and I really doubt that mere ordinary parents AND strangers have anywhere near the abuse potential of professional statists.

    I would much rather leave the State out of it entirely, and give parents 100% discretion. Even if some parents did abuse their kids, or were negligent to the point that the kids hurt themselves, I bet the damage would be less overall than allowing State bureaucrats to make decisions when their only real incentives are to not be caught and to expand their empire with bogus rationalizations and justifications.

    1. My reaction is more along the line of how does the payment model work rather than trusting the competence of my fellow bureaucrats.

      1. I think the payment model is less of a problem than the fact that private security forces essentially end up as private gangs/armies when the “customers” of one are jeopardized by the actions of another.

  6. This is classic “worst-first thinking”?thinking up the very worst case scenario and proceeding as if it’s likely to happen.

    That’s what governments do.

    1. See, also, Precautionary Principle.

  7. Punnett ruled that “great deference” must be given to social workers in such cases and that her testimony was valid. “The social workers have a statutory duty to be truthful, to be honest, to be complete and to do their very best.”

    With all due respect, Punnett — Are you retarded?

    1. He should trust some unknown uncaring professional for that opinion. Unfortunately, I do care and answer YES.

    2. That has been known to happen in courts in the United States, too. A public “servant” can make up the most ridiculous bullshit that has no evidentiary support and flies in the face of common sense, but some courts will take it as Divinely inspired and inerrant if it fits the desired outcome.

      1. You think they wear those robes because they’re fashionable? Dress like a high priest, act like a high priest.

    3. If you like your caste, you can keep your caste.

  8. Just one more reason I refuse to breed.

    1. I though it was just the love of anal?

      1. I could have sworn it was the lack of human-compatible external genitalia.

      2. He doesn’t love anal. He loves Rick Santorum and feels that anal is sort of obligatory…

  9. “The social workers have a statutory duty to be truthful, to be honest, to be complete and to do their very best.”

    The law says that they are honest, therefore they are honest. Even when they’re not. Kinda like cops.

  10. I’m so fucking glad I don’t have kids*. I’m sure you all are too, but man, I feel like I made a wise decision.

    * that I know about

      1. It’s entirely possible. If you try to get a DNA sample I’ll bury you in the park, though.

        I mean, what do you people expect when I’ve banged all your moms?

    1. I had kids (1) because I wanted to make more glibertarians. It’s early, but so far so good. She has a healthy distrust of authority that her mom has been quick to notice.

      1. How glib is she?

        1. Not at all. Very sweet kid. But man she gets annoyed by the precautionary principle rules made by the school.

  11. It’s too much to hope we’re raising a generation of children who will be abnormally suspicious of government workers, isn’t it?

    1. Only if you homeschool. The public schools are designed to ruthlessly inculcate blind subservience to the state.

      1. My kid had some bad experiences in (public) elementary school that served the same purpose. She likes middle school, but then again she’s in a magnet program with an engineering focus, so i still hold out hope.

  12. “The social workers have a statutory duty to be truthful, to be honest, to be complete and to do their very best.”

    And therefore one should always automatically assume that they are doing all of those things? I being a judge in Canada like jury duty or something?

    1. She can be all those things and more without actually being correct in her assessment. In fact correctly diagnosing a scenario involving kids likely runs counter to being a truthful, honest, consummate social worker. It’s like saying pro-wrestlers should above all be sportsmanlike, it misses the point.

      1. I was going to add something about being correct, but figured “truthful” covered that. Can you say they are being truthful if they are incorrect? They may have been intending to be truthful, but that doesn’t mean what they say is true.

        1. If she thinks that children under ten are semisentient animals or robots then she’s being honest in reporting that to the judge. She certainly seems to.

          1. You can be honest and wrong. But not wrong and truthful.

            Sorry, I’m getting bogged down with irrelevant shit.

            The social worker is stupid and/or evil, even if honest and doing her best.

    2. Notice he didn’t say intelligent

  13. The social worker testified that, in her opinion “children who are eight years of age do not have the cognitive ability to be left unsupervised,”

    What the fuuuuuuuuuuuu

    1. How are any of us who were born in the si– uh, a little while ago still alive?

    2. It was based on personal experience. So… yeah.

    3. She was just projecting her own cognitive capabilities.

    4. Infantilizing of the population continues unabated. If 18 year olds can’t be trusted with choosing to smoke or drink, then obviously 8 years is too young to do anything.

      1. Self-fulfilling prophecy? What’s that?

      2. But that same 18 yr old can be trusted, even required to pick up a rifle or toss a grenade so that some megalomaniac can prop up some other megalomaniac?

        Non sequitur!

        1. I…guess? Theoretically, you can join once you’re 17, but I don’t think Canadian Forces deploy troops who didn’t finish high school into combat operations.

          To make it stupider, 19 is the age for drinking or smoking. So lots of students become legal (hur hur) at some point in first semester of their first year. Always puzzled me, why not 18? Can’t be that many people who would be able to smoke/drink during the senior year of high school.

  14. This is classic “worst-first thinking”?thinking up the very worst case scenario and proceeding as if it’s likely to happen.

    Which is the same thinking behind “Climate Change” hysteria and all the other sorts of hobgobblins invented by the Marxians, by the way.

    1. Marxians don’t own that. It describes government in general.

  15. “…..social worker is protecting her phony-baloney job.”

    FTFY

    Kevin R

    1. Harrumph!

  16. “The social workers have a statutory duty to be truthful, to be honest, to be complete and to do their very best.”

    Paging barfman.

    1. So what are statutory penalties if they violate their duties?

      1. A government agent violate their duty? Pfft, whoever heard of such a thing?

        /Judge Dipshit

      2. Apparently they are incapable of violating their duties. Those laws are embedded in their operating system, like an Asimov robot.

  17. I hope the judge required the estranged husband to share 50% of the constant watching job.
    So much of these type cases come down to custody disputes where one is trying to get one up on the other yet really doesn’t want the responsibility of full custody when they win. A friend’s son had his soon to be ex claim he was on drugs just to win points.

  18. Evidence? What evidence? All the social worker did was give an opinion

    Oh, come on, Lenore! Haven’t you learned by know that when government officials express their opinion, they’re speaking ex cathedra and that us, mere peasants, should just shut up and obey?

  19. OT: Oops, we sold your murdered grandpa’s car. Procedures were followed.

    Even with a new vinyl top and tires, the 1989 Mercury Grand Marquis was worth only about $2,500.

    Still, Howard Johnson said, it was his father’s car, and his father, James Johnson, is gone, murdered by his grandson. Now, the car’s gone, too.

    “To us, it was priceless. It had his hat and his cross and his Bible, the things he kept in his car,” Johnson said.

    At a hearing Friday, Judge Junius Fulton III said police had “added insult to injury” by taking the car for evidence and then selling it at auction instead of returning it to the Johnson family.

  20. One of the best things about where I live now is how many kids under 12 you see just going to the parks to play by themselves. Seems like a nice place to grow up and I’m comfortable raising my daughter here because no cop is going to get upset that an 8-year-old is playing without a leash.

    1. When did you move to Somalia?

    2. I thought I had just moved to a neighborhood like that. I looked outside in the morning and saw kids headed to the school unattended and saw other kids playing in the park.

      Then just last week, my daughter was walking our dog at dusk (not dark, just after sundown) and some lady came up to her and said “You shouldn’t be out here without a parent.” WTF? She is 9 years old.

      I am going to print up business cards for her to take with her and give to such adults. It will say “Hi, I am (name), and I am a free range kid. My parents have raised me to be a responsible, self sufficient member of the community. I can play safely, walk a dog, even go to the bathroom by myself. If you have questions about how you too can raise children without the fear of boogiemen and black swan events, please call my father at (number)”

      1. Free Range ID Card

        But I like your’s better.

    3. It’s like that where I live too.

    4. Sounds like Europe….

      In Vienna I got turned around and asked directions of a girl (about 7 or 8?) who was in charge of her little brother (I assume) who looked to be about 4 or 5.

      My German was good enough I got to where I needed to go based on her instructions.

      Nothing else happened.

      *******

      Then there was the toddler who was exploring the train car.

      Again, nothing happened.

      1. And the kids there also seem to survive hanging around in bars while their parents have some drinks (and until a few years ago (gasp) cigarettes). Amazing.

  21. I was left on my own at eight and terned ot fyne. Wot da bg deel?

    Seriously, by the time I was eight, I had to get myself out of bed, get ready/dressed, and get myself off to school (every other member of the house had to be up and gone before me). I’d come home after school, let myself in with the hidden key, watch the last 4 innings of the Cubs/Superfriends, make myself a snack, and do my homework. As a benefit, I got to look at the old man’s stash of porn too (maybe that fuels the wrong side). It’s just the way it was. It was NORMAL. I got good grades, took care of myself, and to this day I look fondly back on those days. I was reasonably self sufficient (as much as a supported eight year can be). I took care of my responsibilities, I wasn’t a truant, did my homework, and got to control the only TV in the house for a half our in the morning and two hours after school.

    In short, I had FREEDOM.

    Serious question. When I was in the fourth grade, the teacher read us the book From The Mixed Up FIles Of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, about a little girl and her younger brother who run away to The Met, have adventures yada yada yada. It won awards circa 1968. Would these fascists even allow such a book in a school library anymore? You know, those young minds can’t comprehend and stuff.

    This ain’t going to end pretty.

    1. …From The Mixed Up FIles Of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler…

      Wow, I haven’t thought about that book in years. I, too, had a teacher read it in class at that age. It was an amazing book. I looked forward every day to the next chapter.

      Now that I think of it, a *lot* of the themes of books that were read to us at that age involved children or small, vulnerable protagonists going out on their own and having amazing adventures.

      I wonder if they ever read kids that sort of thing now in public schools, or if it’s all “I was a victimized minority with two daddies who was wronged by evil white people?”

      1. Try one for slightly older kids… “the Butterfly Revolution” – bet that is absolutely verboten these days, if for no other reason than it would need “trigger warnings”

        1. Hmm, interesting, but the Wikipedia summary of it raises red flags. Does the story really purport that it’s the kid who was the Marx afficionado and budding “communist” who had problems with the revolution, and that the revolutionaries were totalitarian anti-communists? While all that is possible it’s surely been an anomaly in the real world.

      2. Ha I just re-read that recently.

        I recall also “The Railway Children” – another story about little kids getting into all kinds of adventures that would land them in juvie today.

        1. “Magic Tree House” also very good for the early reading set.

  22. Do Canadians have access to woodchippers, or have those already been banned?

    1. Woodchippers aren’t part of their culture. They’re restricted to “Hatchet, axe and saw.”

      There is no more oak oppression in Canada.

    1. You said it,mang.

  23. 8-Year-Olds Can’t Be Left Alone in British Columbia. No Exceptions.

    This sounds like a good opportunity for Rufus to open up some franchises out west.

  24. At the age of 7…8, my grandparents used to send me shopping. By train. ~50 km. Pretty sure I routinely carried more than 10 kg. I remember being tired as the train station was ~3 km from our home as well but I had no objections.

    That happened under regime which is nowadays considered totalitarian.

    1. including accidental poisoning or fires

      Hilariously, if you were actually worried about poisoning or fire without regard for intent, 8 is pretty safe in my experience.

      My poisoning habits and pyromania have diminished considerably and plateaued since my teens and twenties but are definitely still well above where they were when I was 8.

      But, of course, they only care about the < 8 yr. olds *as victims*.

  25. Well, after all, it is BRITISH Columbia. – taking Freedom & Liberty to new levels of FUBAR.

  26. Not a problem. Canada, being a socialist nation, just needs to be more socialist and dig deeper into the pockets of the taxpayers so that mothers like this can get a subsidy to pay for child care. Easy-peasy, right? Or, hell, just give up the babies to the State and let the State raise them. That way they will sure to be safe as children and totally sane as adults. Nah-Noo! Nah-Noo!

  27. Well, I’m sure my parents would be in jail if I hadn’t grown up in the sixties. I was traveling far and wide on my Schwinn Stingray while only a first-grader, and of course, walking myself a mile to school.
    You know, I always hated when old folks would go on about how things were “in their day”, and swore I’d never be that guy. But today’s parents are making that really difficult for me.

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