When should you let your child walk to school alone?

Those of us who live close to our children's schools often consider their safety versus their independence when they want to make the trek without us. What is the appropriate age to let your child walk to school alone?

40  Answers

3 12

Not happening sorry ladies these days just not safe.I will continue to drive my 9 year old until she is old enough to drive herself!

14
236 440

Like I said below, your child has 38 thousand times less chance of abducted compared to being struck by lightening, but has a 1 in 5 chance of being overweight. I'm a lot more of my kids getting obese and diabetic, because that's a more real fear. I'm not going to have them walk along a busy road, though. That's why there's a push for safe routes to school, with walkways and bridges over the busiest roads. It's ok to be concerned about safety, but make sure your fears are grounded in facts and not media hype.

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6 13

every child is different, every journey is different. I would happily let my 10 year old walk to school on her own if she had a friend to walk with. We walk 1.25 miles to school everyday and sometimes she goes off on her own. She has being going to the local shop for the last two years and sometimes all three of my children age 10, 8 and 6, go together. As long as you trust them and you teach them how to cross carefully they are ok. plus once they have done it a few times the novelty wears off and they don't want to anymore - the longer you leave it the bigger deal it will be. Early independance is good - we need to stop wrapping our chidren in cotton wool!

10
0 0

I agree with you, only my daughter from where we are has no one to go with, she could even get the bus less than a minute walk from house and can see from gate, but unfortunately i am so cautious nowadays. we live about a mile and half from school and it is busy at the main point of crossing for her so they have 2 subways and this is the danger and fear i have. If we lived more local i would have no issues at all. Fortunately though i can drive so can take her. x I am with you on stop wrapping up in cotton wool they are very intelligent at 9 and 10yrs old.

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2 10

I think it depends on your neighborhood and your kids. I let my oldest start walking home alone in the 2nd grade, he only had to walk 1/2 a block without his three other friends; my middle child didn't get to do this until 3rd grade and only on the days I didn't have to pick up his little brother. They will be walking home alone together this next school year though. We only live three blocks from the school and it takes about 5 min. for them to get home. We have a safe neighborhood with lots of parents and kids walking home at the same time and that helps me allow them their freedom and sense of independence. I have to let them learn that at some point.

8
2 0

I hope all you Moms who will DRIVING their kids to school every day until they are 18 realize they are putting their kids at a much higher risk. Death by car accident is one of the leading causes of death in children- and often it is Mom or Dad at the wheel! For children 2- 14 motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death. Here's another good one: 50% of children hit by cars near schools are hit by cars driven by parents of students (Kallins, SR2S).. So let's go back to having everyone walk and stop injuring your kids bodies and psyches. And then you'll let your kid drive herself- you don't even want to know the risks involved with teen driving. And since many Moms have addicted their kids to texting "You must text me back the split second I text you" they'll be texting and driving!! there's a real risk- not imagined!
Also, did you ever wonder why kids are engaging in such high risk behavior as soon as they can , including some of these extreme sports? I wonder if it is because they never had a chance to do normal behavior and take ordinary day to day "risks" ( walking to school or riding bikes or playing hide and seek in the neighborhood). They are so over protected they feel they need to "prove themselves" in extreme ways.

7
84 23

Yeah and how many kids are struck by a vehicle by someone not looking and not seeing a small child walking along the side of the road? Not that many children are abducted every year? OK. How many are molested, assaulted or harmed in some other way while walking along? I'm all for letting a preteen go with friends to the mall or even walk to a nearby park, but they are big kids. Personally I find it not overprotective to not let an elementary aged child walk alone, but I feel that letting an elementary age child walk alone to be neglectful. If I saw a child that young walking alone I would call the POLICE and hopefully Child Protective Services would pay you sorry people a visit!

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236 440

Senior year in college, maybe. Just maybe

You didn't really believe my comment above, did you?

I think it depends on your area, really. Statistically, the U.S. is safer for kids than it has been since the 70s. You know all those child abductions on the news every single night? The vast majority of them are *recycled*, sometimes having happened decades ago, but they're huge for ratings so the networks and affiliates continue to scare us with them. For stats on the truth of this: http://www.stats.org/stories/2006/Today_missing_kids_mar09_06.htm According to this, there are only 115 kidnappings of children in the U.S. each year. Compare that to the number of kids going to school each day and multiply by 365.

Compare that to the number of obese kids. Your child is in much more danger of being obese. The government even sponsors a walk-to-school program: http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/kidswalk/

It wasn't always this way: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-462091/How-children-lost-right-roam-generations.html How Children Lost the Right To Roam in Four Generations

So if you live on a busy road where there is no sidewalk, you might want to wait until they are in 5th grade or so, if at all. If we're talking a suburban neighborhood with good sidewalks, and it's not very far, you could probably let them go in first grade, or even in kindergarten if you have a responsible, bright child.

This blog cuts through media hype to discuss the realities of child safety: http://freerangekids.wordpress.com/ It's really helped me help my own kids on their way to independence. My kids are 14, 12, and 6.

7
4 12

Even if it's statistically happening less, I'm not willing to risk my daughter being one of them, sorry.

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6 18

I cannot believe the ignorance on this topic. I grew up in a city and now live in a suburb bordering rural area so I have seen both sides of the coin. Statistics alone should not be what makes anyones decision. I work in the psychiatric field and have worked with sex offenders and murderers as well. Even if the chances are 2 per state per year one of those two could be your child! I don't think you can assume its safer just because its a smaller town. That is naive because predators don't only live in the city. In fact they are usually people you know. So if a mom posts her opinion on this page which is what it was meant for no one should attack her. Besides its her child and if she doesn't want to let her walk to school she doesn't have to let them. Walking to school is not what teaches our children about life it is their upbringing and the schools. Personally my 12 year old doesn't walk to school. Its just too far. She does walk to a friends house after school sometimes but she is with someone. Just as all colleges recommend that women don't walk alone at night on campus I wouldn't let my daughter walk alone any distance. Let's respect one another here and use the site what its for-sharing thoughts and ideas/information. Not a place to vent your anger on moms who care about their kids.

6
0 0

Do you work at fear mongering-r-us? Over protecting IS NOT caring for your kids, it's an unwarranted fear that deprives kids of their independence and the ability to make proper decisions for themselves. "Predators" may make headlines, but it's drowning, car accidents and suicide that kills children. Guess what is one of the leading causes of child suicides? Over protective parents.

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0 0

Most of you on here are just sad helicopter parents that aren't doing your children the least bit of good by over protecting them.

Your job as a parent isn't to protect your child from every potential threat in the world, no matter how remote. it's to teach your children how to live in the world by themselves. By over reaching, all you're doing is giving yourself a false sense of the illusion of control, which teaches your children nothing but to live in fear of everything.

"These days" are much, much safer than "the good old days", even though most fear mongering helicopter parents refuse to believe it. I let my kids 11, 7 and 7 walk to school, about 20 minutes away, by themselves. I also let them play outside, unsupervised, until either it's close to bed time or they want to come back home. No cell phone needed.

I know by doing so my kids are prepared to live in the world without me beside them at every step to pick them up when they fall. Cut the umbilical chord and set your children free.

6
0 0

Very thoughtful and informative comeback. i can see you are a fantastic parent from your response.

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0 28

My oldest is 3, so she's not in school yet. We currently don't know where she will be in school when the time comes, but I hope that we will end up close enough to a school where we can walk. My hope is that we will walk to school together and she will learn proper safety and street smarts. Then, by the time she is 8 or 9, she can walk to school by herself or even better, with a friend. The world HAS changed then when I was a kid (I was born in 1977). It's gotten safer!! Saying that the world is a scaryscary place and kids can't handle themselves is nonsense. We need to teach them how to be independent and confident that they can take care of themselves in this world.

5
5 80

8 to 9 years old, depends on the kid.

5
1 20

my youngest is 8 and he walks home if I'm not there to get him. I grew up with a very overprotective mother and I resented it being treated like a "baby". I swore I would never treat my kids like that.

4
8 3

Never. I feel predators are out to target the ones who travel alone. The buddy system is the way to go. It doesn't matter if your an adult or a child. All ages,races, and sex are targets.

4
0 0

Paranoid and uninformed, what a great combo. You're doing your child no good raising them in unwarranted fear.

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19 24

I am considering if I should do it for the next school year: let my both sons walk together to school.
My older son is 10, he will be going to grade 5, and my younger one is 8, he will be going to grade 3. My school is 600 m away, and it has one stop sign across from school.
I remember I was walkng to (and from) elementary school alone or with my sister since I was barely 7, it was 1+ km away, but no roads to cross. And later - from grade 4 in the new school, alone, wth not only couple of roads crossing, but with a major railroad crossing (without the 'arm'). Add to this bitterly cold Russin winters. It was mid-seventies :)

4
19 24

P.S. It is beginning of May, and my kids are walking to and from school starting January. All in all it is very positive experience, sometimes nerve-wracking when they forget to call upon reaching home from school,, and the phone receiver is out of place, so I couoldn't reach. BUT they learned so many new things, I am so proud of their little achievements of independence and new level of responsibility.

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631 96

When they understand the hazards of traffic -

When they are stong enough to decline a stranger's offer for a ride -

When they have peers that can walk with them -

3
18 22

I let my 11 year old daughter walk to school. I don't live too far from the school. I taught my child to only walk at cross walks with crossing gards. I also taught her DO NOT talk to ANYONE you do not know regardless if they are adults or children. She start walking to school 2 years ago. However, She didn't walk to school everyday by herself. I drove her most days. The older she got, the more I let her walk to school herself.

3
818 24

Tracy Rollinson must be a fan of Lenore Skenazy! So am I. Your child should walk to school when they know the route and the safety rules associated with walking. Encourage other parents to allow their kids to walk, too, if you are not comfortable letting your kid walk alone. You could walk with them a few times to make sure they know the route. You could slowly build up to letting them go alone by walking them all the way for a while, then halfway, then staying home when you feel they are able to handle themselves.

3
5 22

There was a very tough point in my life when I had no other option but to let my child walk to school! I was a ball of nerves everytime (it was for 1 school year). We had moved into a more affordable apptment and a good school district.The school was less then 1/4 mile so they didn't offer a bus service, and I had to commute into downtown Dallas and traffic was insane so I had to leave almost 2 hours ahead of time to make the 35 miles of it on time. So I laid out ground rules for him (he was 9) and talked to my neighbors to help ease my mind.
1. I got my son on my cell plan and a bike.
2. He was to call me the minute before leaving the house and the minute he arrived home.
3. Once he got on that bike he was to stay on the main sidewalks and never trek off the beaten path.
4. We sat down and discussed different scenarios if some one tried to talk to him or god forbid grab him.
and 5. I arranged with other parents in the event of bad weather.

I was still a nervous wreck most mornings but I trusted him and he always did the right thing. I still don't trust this world or unknown and I hated to have him walk but we did good with what we had at the time.

3
5 22

2. Is also when he got to school and left school.

1 0

My boys started walking to school together this year. They were 7 (in grade 1) and 9 (in grade 3). We live on the same block as the school, they have no roads to cross and I can see them the entire way other than when they walk in front of 3 houses around the corner. I walked this path with them for several months before allowing them to walk ahead of me, then walk together (with me secretly following to the corner) and by half way through the year they were doing it themselves with me just galncing out the window occasionally to make sure they made it to school.

Once in a while they go to a babysitter who lives directly across the street from the school and they and walk with the sitters' daughter who is also 9 (and a lot more cautious than my happy go lucky kids) on some days, they cross the street at a marked crosswalk with crossing guards but I would never consider letting them cross by themselves on any other road, busy or not. And I would not consider letting them walk to school completely alone either. My oldest would not have been ready in grade 1 to do this alone. I have seen how distracted they both can get while talking with friends and playing... they are still kids afterall. I have seen many near misses with other neighborhood kids as well darting out into traffic between parked cars to catch up to a friend, or running across at a marked crosswalk without checking for cars first. And I definitely agree with others, it does depend on the kid and the circumstances, a very cautious child can probably cross the street safely by themselves long before a child who can be easily distracted.

Paul, before you comment about me being overprotective or anything like that, I also make sure my kids are physically active (at least 2 hrs a day of sports/outdoor play and limited time in front of the tv/computer/video games), they ride in child safety restraints in the vehicles and they have taken water safety courses, I am not an uninformed parent and I am not overprotective... I am educated, I know the risks and choose to make SAFER choices for my children and teach them to make those safer choices for themselves as well. My job as a parent is to teach my kids to be safe and responsible, and to judge when they are ready for more independance. It is a different transition for every parent and every child. You can never protect your child from every possible danger but you can make choices to reduce risks while stilll allowing for independance and growth. And FYI- There are also many unreported statistics and near misses... kidnappings and death are not the only things that happen to children, there are many other dangers out there.

3
5 29

I think it would depend on the maturity of the child in most cases..

3
91 9

i agree. My daughter is 11 and has an autism spectrum disorder. She would have to cross a main road and catch public transport to get to her school. She desperately wants to go to school but i can't trust her to cross the rd safely or not to give out personal info like name and address to complete strangers. If i could then i would let her. In australia the government discourage allowing children under the age of 10 to walk on their own to school. They can if they are with an older sibling or friend.

4 14

I'm a walking bus co-ordinator and knowing the roads around our area I prob wont let my kids (I have 3 in various years at Primary school) walk on their own until last year of junior school - Year 6. Only as they will have to get a little street wise in readiness for secondary school...

3
7 28

honestly i never got the choice. When my son was in kindergarten the school let him walk home because that's what they told them. MY kid goes on the bus so I didn't now until his bus came and he wasn't there. It was horrible. . He did make it home all right but I wont be put through that again

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19 7

depends on the neighborhood, how far the school is and your childs disposition. my neighborhood is great and the school isn't that far, but there is an extremely busy road my kids would need to cross, she will be going to 6th grade next year and I think I will need one more year before I let her go it alone

3
973 44

We let our 12 year old son walk last school year a few times. It was usually when he earned detention or Saturday school. My husband told him, you made the choice to be at school when you didn't have to be, you get yourself there and back. It's about a mile or so to the Jr. High. It was FREEZING one Saturday and I believe that was the last time he had to walk. My daughter goes to daycare and she would have to cross busy streets and stuff, plus it's a little too far to walk. If we lived a few blocks from the school, I'd let her, but only if her brother or a group of friends walked with her. She is only 6, in a few years, she'd be mature enough, but again it's too far for her to walk and I'd only allow it if she had a cell phone and someone else walking with her.

2
2 0

My daughter is 10 and we always walk her or drive her we live right acrossed the street from her school and we live in Holland Ohio so its really busy and theres a auction right acrossed the strret not very safe and my daughter never got a detention!

0 0

I started walking to and from school when I was 11 after my mother passed. I think it really has to do with the responsibility of the child more then age. I used to walk to the local store to get my father the news paper, milk, bread, and eggs every sunday morning when I was about 7 and that was about 4 blocks away. And I agree with Tracey. You really just need to look at everything that relates to your situation; where you live, how safe it is in your neighborhood, how far do you live from the school, are there crossing guards, are you friends with the neighbors who would be willing to keep an eye out for trouble. The list could goes on. I don't think its fair to the child not to consider everything before you make a decision.

2
0 0

Fortunately, I have twins boys, so when they asked us as they entered the 2nd grade if they could walk the 4 blocks to school by themselves, we said ok. However, as they are 8 years old, there was much training during the summer, letting them walk as my husband and I trailed them to be sure they knew exactly which route to take, getting them a shared cell phone, and of course explaining exactly what to do if a stranger approached them.

2
0 0

So, the only good parents are ones that have given birth and are paranoid beyond belief? Grow up people. Facts are facts. Only about 50 children every year in the US die as a result of stranger danger. What are the top 5 causes of child deaths? Road crashes (13,000/year), drownings (8,500/year), burns (4,300/year), falls (2,300/year) and accidental poisonings (2,000/year). Stop worrying about stranger danger and teach them how to swim and stay away from fire and poisons. Baseless paranoid knee jerk reactions and over protectiveness won't do anything to help your child. Doing what you can to prevent the REAL dangers out there will.

2
5 19

Hey Paul I agree with you, but you have to stop getting so aggressive. It is their children and if they feel that it is right for their kids, let it be. There is always going to be people who are ok with letting their children walk to school and others who are not. No reason to be aggressive about it.

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3 13

I started walking to school when I was 5 years old, we lived in a middle class neighborhood with good sidewalks and lots of parents around the neighborhood to keep an eye out for us. But guess what, I still was approached on many occasions by male neighbors to drive me home (even though I did not know them well, nor did my parents), I was stalked home and flashed by perverts. The so called "helicopter parents" well I'm all for it, because I know how easily I could have ended up dead, molested, kidnapped etc. Oh and by the way, this all happened while using the buddy system and walking to and from school with my older sibling or a friend. I will never let my daughter walk to school by herself until she is at least a teenager, I will not chance my daughter being a statistic. For those parents who disagree, that is your right.... and all I have to say is, good luck with that.

2
13 0

Last week a hasdic Jewish family held a furneral fr their 8 yr old only son. His 9th birthday was only about week away.He was in what was considered a good area in a very tight knit community. He was walking home from his summer camp for the first time. He had to go 5 blocks to meet his mom. It was a rout his patents went over with him the day before. He became lost and asked for directions from someone in that community. Two days later they found pieces of that little boys dismembered body and that person he turned to for assistance is on trial for the child's murder. Danger lurks everywhere and horror can touch anyone/ place. I dont feel comfortable putting my child at needless risk which is why I pay someone to pick him up and will continue to do so untill perhaps he is in highschool. I will have to re-evaluate the situation at that time to see what is best fr him and make me feel comfortable regarding his safety and well being.

2
20 2

Well, my kidlet's not in school yet (he's in StrongStart, but I walk him to that), but I was walking to school alone when I was in Grade 1/2ish; the school was about a kilometer away. My mom had to look after my sister and my dad worked, so I walked! I remember having a great time pretending that I was riding a horse to school, lol. And the worst I got was a bump by a car (that was my fault and didn't hurt me, just startled the hell out of me and scared the bejezzus out of the driver). Depending on where we live when the kidlet is in school and how far we are, I can see letting him start walking in grade 2 or 3.

1
11 3

We live about 2 blocks from the school in a "safe" neighborhood. I started letting my oldest walk alone when she was in first grade. She is now in third grade and I let her walk her brother to school too, he just started kindergarten. And she was sick today so I let him walk all by himself. There are other kids walking along the same time. The school has some of the "big" kids act as crossing guards on the corners, so that helps with safety. Although I did start teaching them how to cross the street safely at about 2 years (along with stranger safety), so I feel ok with it. I am comfortable with it and it helps teach them independence and responsible behavior. I do understand that depending on where one lives, it actually might not be safe to let them walk even that short of a distance.

1
20 2

Yeah, I'm doing the same with my 2 yo; he KNOWS now to push the button at the intersection and wait til it beeps before pulling me to walk with him, lol. He used to try to go out when he shouldn't, but he knows now to wait for the beep no matter how excited he is, ha ha.

1 21

That really depends on a lot of factors. Mainly what kind of area do you live in? How far away is school? Would they be walking alone or with friends? Would they know what to do if someone tried to kidnap them? Are they mature enough to go to school without getting into trouble on the way there?
I probably would never let Kili walk to school alone, but for other people it could be an option sometimes I guess.

1
5 7

My son is only 2 so i dont have to worry about that yet but i think ill be driving him to school myself until hes around 13 :) But saying that, it depends how far away we live from the school aswell

1
35 62

It depends on how far, what kind of neighborhood, if you can see them & how mature they are, not how old. I had a neighbor that would let her 7 year old walk a block to school because she couldn't see her when she turned the corner.

1
2 3

When my daughter was in kindergarten, I used to walk her to school everyday. Then halfway through, I became pregnant and the sickness began. I started letting her walk by herself but the school was literally a 1-2 minute walk (I could see it from my house). She was always either in sight of me or the crossing guards. I wouldn't keep it routine though, just in case someone happened to be watching us.
Now she is in first grade but she rides the bus. A little more nervous. The first day she got on the wrong bus to come home. Luckily she stayed on the bus and the driver brought her back. The second I saw a kid holding her backpack trying to figure out who it belonged to (scariest moment btw). Apparently she got off but couldn't figure out which building was ours (recently moved there). After all that I still wanted her to learn her independence so I continue to let her ride and would let her walk if we were close enough.
I agree with others, it depends largely on your children and the environment.

1
0 0

when he was 11 year old

1
0 12

My daughter is 7 1/2 yrs old and she has been walking herself to school since last september. The only reason I allow her to do this is because her school is on the same side of the street as our house, and it is only 8 houses away from ours, so I can watch her from the sidewalk. She also walks with several friends (who live further away and their mom's walk with them).

1
0 26

this answer really depends on the area of town and how far it is to walk, as well as your children's maturity level. right now, we live 2 miles from the elementary school, no sidewalks, busier roadways between my little quiet dead end road and the school. no way in hell! until they build sidewalks and crosswalks, then still no, it's just too far. living closer to the school, and sidewalks and crosswalks, then we'd think about letting our fifth grader (11 years old) walk with her besties to our house, cell phones in hand. we walked, but then again, it wasn't until 4th or 5th grade, we walked in groups, and we lived four blocks from the elementary, middle, and high schools. the neighborhood was nicer then, everyone knew everyone. and we were always in groups. noone ever walked alone!

1
0 0

you really need to balance safety concerns with the importance of children learning independence, and to not grow up paranoid that something bad is going to happen when they are alone. Depends on the neighbourhood and distance. Mine have walked half a km home since grade 3. All 3 of my kids walked together. Now they take a bus home as they have switched schools and I drive in morning as the bus schedule is not convenient.

1
0 0

My views are dependant on distance and roads. Being an older mum my elder ones are 20's but tt is my youngest at 10yrs old and as for going to school on their own, if it is within a short walking distance and no major road and a lollipop crossig then 9yrs old is suitable as they are a lot more intelligent and aware of what is going on at this age.
when it comes to highschool they want them to be independant and send letters askign parents to allow their children to find their own way to school, via bus or walking i feel this is good then they are not wrapped up in cotton wool, however, my daughter is fortunate as i take her in car everyday before work she is 10yrs old but it is too far in my opinion to allow her to walk there (as grown up and capable as she is) it is other people in this world that let the system down on safety.
when she gets to high school like her brother who is 15yrs old he also gets taken to school as dad passes it on the way to work, so tt will also be taken to school.

1
4 66

here in the Phils where there are just some people who owns a car.But I still not allow my daughter to walk alone in school because even if how careful the child is,there are still reckless drivers out there who can make mistakes.but I am trying to let my daughter walk home from school ahead of me together with her other cousins who are bigger but not alone.maybe around 8 is appropriate depending on how near the school to the house

1
4 20

It depends on everyone's situation I suppose. My son's school is 8km from our home, so not possible, but if it was just around the corner, NO. He is 9 years old and in South Africa allowing your child to walk to school is not an option. It simply is not safe. I would only allow it in high school, maybe, depending on the circumstances. If he was walking with a group of friends. Sounds really overprotective I know but that's the way it is. We do have a school closer to us than the one my son goes to. I never see children walking alone. There is always an adult with them. It is a junior school. We have had incidents in recent years where sick people on some kind of "sexual mission" sit outside school watching kids. They have been apprehended when some observant parent notices the same car there all the time, not picking kids up but watching them carefully. It's just not worth the risk!

1
5 18

Well we live in a relatively small village in Ireland and my youngest has walked by herself twice -although I am watching from the front to make sure she crosses the road safely and then it is a 2 minute walk into school, where there are laods of parents around who know here. I do however fetch her - that is school policy.

1

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