Under what circumstances is it safe for kids to walk home from school?

We all want our kids to be safe, but sometimes after school transportation can be a little tricky. Are there circumstances (like walking with a group, or living close to the school) that make walking home from school okay for your kids? What are they?

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28  Answers

492 54

We live one block from our elementary school and my 7 year old boy walks home alone at times. There are no stop lights, or busy intersections and we have been walking to this school since he was in Preschool. He and his older brother walked it together for several years as well. We do not live in a bubble, assuming "our neighborhood is safe." ( it actually is). But, We do not want our boys to live in fear either. Therefore, we have educated and then roll played with them on what to do should a predator try to take them. I also have a 20 minute window of time in which if they are not home yet, or I have not heard anything, I start walking. We believe that if you allow children a little independence and responsibility. It will increase their self confidence, decrease there fears and dependency. It can also slowly build trust and responsibility between the parents for them to take on bigger challenges and responsibility's in the future. Not to mention, good for their health, and good for environment. The truth is, there are MANY variable's to factor in before making this decision. Are you a "Helicopter Mama" or a "Free Range Parent"? I like to hover somewhere in between. Go with what you as a parent and your child is comfortable with. Truth is, it's usually the parents who have a hard time with this, not the kids! Good Luck

13
18 37

Mom's I am so sorry to be so hard on those of you who let your kids walk home at any age. IT IS A HUGE RISK. PERIOD. I hope I don't ever have to see you on TV crying begging for whomever has your child to let them come home to you again. It is horrible to have your child kidnapped. I know from experience. https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&safe=images&sclient=psy-ab&q=2+girls+kidnapped&oq=2+girls+kidnapped&aq=f&aqi=&gs_l=serp.3...17466.23590.0.24011.39.23.0.3.3.7.100.1187.21j1.23.0...0.0.3-99_ftFn7o&pbx=1&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_cp.r_qf.,cf.osb&biw=1366&bih=667&emsg=NCSR&noj=1&ei=g66hT7vyGY2I8QTx_bTkCA&sei=nq6hT8P1GoWI8QSw-fnHCA&gbv=2

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54 12

Well I have strong thoughts on this! Being that on my way home from highschool, when I was 14, I was attacked by a stranger( in an upscale neighborhood)...I ran to a house with sprinklers on cuz my instincts said, someone may be home...I was let in by an older woman who couldn't hear me screaming when the incident happened. I made a police report although the man was never caught. Now I was 14, what would a 7 or 8 year old do? Is it worth the risk....

4
54 12

For those parents who allow their young children to walk home, expect the unexpected...What I mean is, this is not the only incident which occured in our "safe city", nor to me. Young Girls and Boys are preyed upon every day, unfortunately I don't mean to scare anyone just alert parents that kids are precious and educate them on the real world we live in. Furthermore when I was 13 I had my own paper route, went to over 30 houses and apartments at 5:00am by myself delivering papers, skated to and from middle school on skates, rode my skateboard in vacant parking lots with my friend early mornings alone. So we thought it was a "Brady Bunch World" out there...Untill one day walking to my friends house (about 8 houses away) when I was in 5th grade a car pulled up along side me and inside was a young man half dressed (being a pedifile) asked me for directions told me to get in his car with him...Luckly I knew to run! After, my parents told me about stranger danger, By the way, the day I was attacked walking home from High school there were 2 other people walking right behind me who did nothing!

0 6

Looking at all the responses, I think we are smothering our kids to death at the detriment of them becoming needy and dependent adults. The main risk is road safety.
There has always been paedophiles and abductors. That's not new. The media reports better now and we all have access to the information. It was well hidden and not talked about in the past. I do think it depends on the child what age they are allowed off the leash but a good parent will know how to loosen the reins bit by bit to ensure their child develops a sense of responsibility and maturity. Children need to be trusted when they are ready and if we don't allow them to look out for dangers as they mature, how will they cope in the real world???

3
0 16

There have always been pedophiles & abductors, but it is MY responsibility as Mom to ensure those people NEVER come in contact with my children. I don't feel my presence walking/driving my kids to school will in any way hinder "how they cope in the real world" , nor do I feel it will lead my children to become "needy and dependent adults". It will only increase the odds that they will in fact make it to adulthood. I choose to live proactively instead of reactively when it comes to my children.

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83 126

Personally I don't think kid should walk home alone. There are to many crazy people out there looking for a kids alone. If they have friends that live next door or that can just come home with your child would be better then them being alone. There is safety in numbers and my son is 15yrs and I still watch him on and off the bus. We have college kids missing so no one is exempt for the crazies out there. I know every kid is different but every town has perverts in it. Sorry it this scares you but we have to protect our children because no one else will. Hope this helps in your choice walk or not to walk. God Bless you!

3
10 4

My son has been walking to and from school with friends since he turned 9 this May. His school does not provide bus service as all the students live within 3/4 of a mile. This means that all students, K5 - 5th grade, have to walk or be dropped off. It is about a 10 minute walk from our apartment and he has to call when he leaves school so I know when to expect him. With the majority of the students walking, there are so many people (parents and students) that I don't really worry about him too much. There are sidewalks the whole way and he knows that if he acts up, I will hear about it from one of the other parents.

3
27 5

I let my daughter, who is now 12 and in the 6th grade, walk to and from school. This is is the first year I have allowed it, and we live about 4-5 blocks from the school. She has a cell phone and she must call me when she gets to school and when she gets home in the afternoon. Generally, she walks w/ a friend.

3
2 2

When my son was in Elementary school, we were only a block & a half away. It sits at an extremely busy intersection, though, so in the AM, you're dealing with rush hour, but the afternoon isn't quite as dicey. Also, there's only one crossing guard, and she doesn't do both streets. So, I dropped off in the morning, K-5th grade, and on good days, I'd walk up and get him, & we'd walk home together. He's in middle school now. There's a group of kids that walk 9 blocks from school to Carytown's McDonalds...I'm not entirely sold on that, but one of them in the group has an uncle that works on Cary Street & is near enough to keep an eye on things. Two days a week, though, after school, I let him walk with his friends the 2 1/2 blocks to get to the community center. They are required, by the center, to spend an hour on homework, they get a snack, and afterwards he spends his time playing basketball. He does have a cell phone, just for calling me or his dad. It all depends on your child, his/her maturity, sidewalks, and always, always, always walking in a group.

2
4 26

Reality! The world is changing around us daily. There is so much hate out there today. I don't live in a bubble but I am not going to put my children in an enviroment where I don't feel they are safe. We are in a good neighborhood school is like 2 blocks over for elementray and 3 to 4 blocks for high school. I also dont let my son go home after school I guess what they call a latch key kid. My husband works and I also work full time. I take both of my kids to school, my youngest goes to daycare after school my oldest does sports after school and I pick them up after work. People are getting desperate with the ecomny being the way it is there have been more break ins, more bullying, people are being attcked daily in board daylight, An edlery man was attacked and beaten to death by the elementary school so people can say I am over protective. Every child is different and can handle things differently but my youngest is impulsive and does not meet a stranger sort of speak and thinks everyone is good. Don't get me wrong there are good people out there but dont ever think it can't happen to you. It only takes one second for a child to be abducted.

2
11 31

My Daughter is 10 and walks to school on her own we live 10 minutes walk away and she has a mobile phone and she texts me when she has arrived Sometimes she will walk home too She has a friend she walks so far home with.

She is very sensible and has road sense too that's the only reason why I let her walk on her own.

I think it is good for her to have her own independence

2
236 440

I think that depending on your area, how close you live to school, and whether there's a sidewalk or not are really important factors, as well as your child's maturity. And I would always prefer it to be at least a 2-3 kid group. My son was an old man at age 3, and has always been super-responsible. I think had we lived within a couple of blocks of the school and had there been a good sidewalk, I could have let him walk home from school at age 8 or 9 (he's 15 now). My older daughter is iffy, though. If she's having fun she can ignore the world around her. She's now 12, and I'm *still* not positive I'd let her walk home alone under those circumstances--maybe with her brother or in a group. My youngest is kind of in the middle of the two personality-wise and just turned 7. She's not there yet. Maybe at 9 or 10.

But we live in the country and there are no sidewalks so it's moot.

2
6 13

My children's elementary school does not allow children to go anywhere without parent signatures or parent permission. The child must be accounted for at all times, even after dismissal. If they ride the bus, the parent must sign a notice at the beginning of the school year so they ride the bus every day to and from school. If it's a one day thing, you must send a note in with your child, signed, stating that they will be riding the bus to a particular place (a day care, after school care, your house with someone to collect them off the bus, etc. School buses do NOT let children off the bus unless there is someone at the stop to pick them up. If there is not, then the child gets taken back to the school and a parent gets called to come pick them up.). If you drive them, you must be there in the car, ready to sign them out. If you walk to pick them up, you must sign them out every day. It has to be an adult-a legal guardian,or a relative or nanny that comes to pick them up.There are no "we live two houses down, she/he can just walk home by themselves". The school looks out for each and every student to ensure their safety.

I will personally allow my son to walk home off the bus (the three blocks away that the school bus stop is at) with classmates by the time he's in middle school. This all providing I have a job by then. If not, I'll meet him at the stop, and then we'll go get his little sister from the elementary school together.

1
36 5

There isn't a magic age, but kids need to gradually build up to independance and the coping skills to deal with anything that occurs when not under adult supervision. We all know 3 is too young but at 16 we hope our kids will be pretty able to cope without us breathing down their necks ... my strategy was to first allow them to walk into school (the grounds were pretty big, taking 5 minutes from the gate) then the short distance to school on public roads (5 minutes, one small no through road to cross), after this we built up to the postbox, then the shop ... by 10 they took the bus (ordinary public, no school buses in UK cities) to school 3 miles, this year they want to travel to their grandmothers 180 miles away by train, I haven't made up my mind yet whether to let them go, or take the week off and drive them, its a few months off still.

My advice to to build up to it, even if its letting them go across the park to the icecream man with their money, or sending them in a shop to fetch something from another aisle. At 6 most kids can cope with short journeys alone - in many countries all kids go alone to school by then - but the age for travelling to school is very dependant on where you live in relation to the school.

1
14 25

The one thing that will help you make that decision is walking it with your child. You can not know how to help your child until you do it with them. You also need to talk to them (a lot) about what to do and actually practice it. For example: They need to go knock on the door of the "safe" person's home with you and tell that person that they will be walking by every day.
I do not think kids should walk alone(without friends), until they are physically and mentally able to defend themselves. Not before high school. I worried much more about bullies or teasing then abduction. So, our focus was on standing up for yourself. They have both been able to do that.

1
0 25

I'm sure my answer will terrify some of the posters here, but my kids walk home by themselves. One is in first grade and the other is in second grade. We live about 2 blocks from school, and they meet up with friends about a block from here and walk with them (the oldest in the group is in 3rd grade). There are plenty of people around, as we live in a suburban neighborhood where most of the kids walk.

1
7 26

My daughter has been walking home from school since 4th grade (10). We live a good distance from the school, but according to the district, close enough to walk so there is no bus service. She has a cell phone and has to call when she gets home. Prior to that, I had her in an after school program that picked her up from school and I picked her up from there after I got off work.

1
7 0

When my sister and I were in middle school we would walk home together, literally 4 blocks. One after noon a man drove by flashing us his erect penis! we ran home and called the police. totally safe neighborhood low crime excellent law enforcement, he was caught immediately but still there are psychos out there!

0
0 2

I only let my 13 year old walk home because her middle school didn't have buses and I could see her school from my back yard. It was a straight line and I could watch her the entire route. And she usually walked with a group of boys and girls some of whom were older. And these are big big kids. She is already three inches taller. These days, I think that is the only circumstances period that I would let her walk home. Too paranoid.

0
0 33

Kate rides the bus. , but after school
She likes to ride her bike o I make her take her cell. Phone with her soon know what's happening , where she. Is, will be. ,when she is headed home!!

0
0 16

We live in a "walking" school district, therefore we have no buses. We have sidewalks only along the main street...NOT on any sidestreets. I have a 5 yr old and a 10 yr old with aspergers...needless to say, I drive them & pick them up everyday! Very inconvenient...but I KNOW they are safe!

0
0 2

Next year my 10 year old boy (Who weighs 115 and stands 5 feet tall) will start walking the two blocks from his school, to his dads house, with his stepsister. I am terrified, granted he is a very big boy, he's not fat either, his Dr says he is solid muscle, and not the type of kid that preadators usually seek out, but I am still scared. So he is getting a cell phone, he has to call me when he gets out of cless, when he heads home (if they choose to stay after and spend a little time with friends) and when he gets home. I know it seems overbearing, but I'd rather be too cautious and keep him than be careless and possible lose him. Thats got to be terrifying. He will also have the direct line for Fresno PD dispatch (498-1911) saved in his phone, if your child has a cell phone, I recommend you call the non-emergency line and find out their dispatch number so your children go directly to them if they call, when you call 911 from a cell phone it is typically routed through the state police and funneled down to the specific county yo're looking for.

0
50 22

My kids are 12 and 8. My daughter (12) rides the school bus to and from school. The bus picks her up about 4 blocks from our house. My son (8), gets dropped off on my way to work, and picked up either by me, my husband, or my mom depending on mine or my husband's schedule. My son is too easily distracted and trusting for me to let him walk home. We live a few miles from his school, so if he wasn't picked up, he would ride the bus.

0
14 20

I only live about 4-5 blocks from my son's school, but I wouldn't let him walk there. He's 9 years old, and while I trust him, I don't trust other people. He also wouldn't have anyone else to walk with either though. If he had an older sibling who could walk with him, I'd probably allow that. While I don't want him to live in fear I also don't feel that he's old enough to handle situations that could possibly arise. Besides that I watch cars fly through my residential neighborhood all the time, I see how horribly they drive even in the school zone. So since I can, I just prefer to take him and pick him up. For those parents who do not have that option, I understand. It's really an individual decision.

0
3 0

The way you describe how people drive around the school zone, your son has a much higher chance of being injured in a car accident than he does being abducted while walking to school. In fact, kids have a higher chance of being struck by lightning than being abducted by a stranger.

6 19

I just allowed my son who is eight and will turn nine in May, walk home with a friend or friends. He has a prepaid cell phone so he calls me when he gets out of school to tell me who he will be walking home with or if he will be going to the Boy's and Girl's club in front of his school. It helps that we have been in the neighborhood for years and even though we live in a city, our neighborhood is filled with families. I do worry about him crossing the street since his school is about a 15 minute walk from our apartment, but at the time he gets out there are crossing guards on most of the corners and always group of kids walking home. I myself was raised in NYC and was allowed to walk home alone, but was super reluctant to allow my son to walk home since he didn't seem mature enough. But he has proven otherwise and his confidence level has sky rocketed.

0
115 4

We lived too far away from my son's elementary school, so he didn't start walking home until 6th grade, which was two blocks away. We live in an urban environment, however, and the crime rate has risen in our neighborhood over the past several years.

I did walk with him the first couple of times to watch for potential hazards and point them out to him, then a couple of times I followed him home, staying about 1/2 block behind, to make sure he followed the safety rules without being reminded. It's surprising what kids will do - like walking in the street instead of on the sidewalk on a busy city street.

The rules were that he had to stay on the sidewalk, avoid shortcuts, and walk with friends when possible. He was never allowed to go inside a school mate's home unless I met and spoke with the parents to make sure they would provide responsible supervision, and under no circumstances could he go home with a latch-key kid.

Because there is some gang activity and street drug sales near our neighborhood, we took some precautions. We talked about drugs and gangs, and about traffic safety. He was instructed to always make sure the driver saw him and stopped, even in a cross walk, since children occasionally get killed in our city by careless drivers, and even if it is the driver's fault, that doesn't bring the child back. If he was a bit late I would start walking toward the school to make sure everything was okay. I also told him that if he ever had a problem he could talk to us about it, and that I would pick him up if there were too many problems walking home.

Unfortunately the school was a rough environment for him. There was a lot of fighting, classroom disruptions and coarse behavior. The police were at the school on a regular basis to deal with crime. He requested that I homeschool him, and since then walking home from school is no longer a concern.

0
6 15

we live close toour school, a block so i am fortunate. im also fortunate there are alot of kids in our neighborhood and they wait for each other to come home together. there are a few kindergartners so there is usually one of us parents to get them from school.

0
10 16

It really depends on your location to the school. i let both my 11 and 7 year olds walk. The 11 year old is now being driven to school because it is too scary to let her walk on the snow and ice with out sidewalks. the 7 year old has no other choice since the elementary school is across the street.

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3 21

I understand the worry about it. I have been left in a hard position, my daughter who is 8 in a few months has had to start walking to school (2 blocks from our home) just so that she can attend. I start work before she can be dropped off at the school, and my husband also works, I work at home, so I can let her know when to leave so she always arrives on time for school....but I still pick her up from school every day since my work schedule allows it. I recently found one of her fellow class mates parents that drives their kids to school every day...so we started having her ride with them for the few blocks just so she is not by herself. I feel like she is maybe a bit too young yet, but I wasn't left with much options till recently.

0
2 21

My son is 9 and my daughter is 8 . They started walking home alone this year. They don't cross any streets. I walk them to school in the morning because I'm still afraid, and i'll be wondering did they get there. We do not have cell phone for the kids. I feel so much better that I gave them a little responsibility.

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