leaving a child to wait for the bus, Bad idea?

Cara - posted on 05/07/2012 ( 281 moms have responded )

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I'm starting to plan for next year. My children will be 9 and 5, We live in a very small town where the houses are spread out. Do you think it is safe for me to leave them alone outside waiting for the bus for 10 min. I would be gone due to my work schedule. IS this a bad parent choice? Please help I need some opionions. My children are my world and I know how dangerous life is now so this is why I need a opinion.

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Sylvia - posted on 05/07/2012

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Okay, first of all, life is not any more dangerous now than it was when you were a kid and probably walked to school from a young age (at least, kids at my elementary school did; I'm 38). Traffic is a real concern in a lot of places, but the concern a lot of parents have about hordes of kidnappers lurking behind every shrub is waaaaaay overblown -- it's just the 24-hour news cycle that makes us think the world is scarier. (I like how the terrifying examples Wendy mentions both happened decades ago, yet they are constantly trotted out as examples of how scary the world is *now* ...)

Also, 10 minutes is really not a long time.

My 9-year-old takes the bus to and from school by herself. (Well, actually in the afternoon there are other kids taking the same bus and waiting at the same stop with her.) She's been coming home on her own since September and going to school on her own since March.

Around here (suburbanish area of a large city in Canada), lots of kids her age take themselves to and from school, often with younger siblings in tow.

Do your kids know never to go anywhere with an adult without your permission and never to get in a stranger's car? Do they understand when it is and is not safe to cross the street, and why it's important to stay on the sidewalk? If your 5-year-old is really rambunctious and not inclined to listen to his/her older sibling, then you might wait another year. But there's certainly nothing inherently dangerous about a 10-minute wait at the bus stop.

Karenda - posted on 05/07/2012

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If you look at actual crime statistics, most areas of the country are safer then when we were growing up. It's just that the media sensationalizes everything so it feels less safe. Kids can handle more responsibility than we usually allow them. I would set some ground rules for what would be required for them to wait for the bus themselves as well as going over what to do in case of a variety of situations. If you can afford the expense you could get the older one a cell phone so they could contact you. They could even send a text once they got on the bus each day so you wouldn't worry.

Junie - posted on 05/07/2012

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Absolutely not. However, don't look at it as a bad parenting choice - see it for what it is! Companies still use the old 8-5 and have never considered WHY they use these hours! We have had them since Methuselah and no one can tell you we are any more productive than if we worked until 3 with only a small break to eat! That way we could ALL be home when the kids got home! Its the 21st century and we still try to work around an antiquated time - yet the schools times are different - WHY??? OK, this would take time to change so in the mean time, can you possibly drive them to school on your way? If you know the parents of other children who ride the bus, you might also ask them if they would think about before and possibly after school care and pay them (but only if you know these people - even in a small town things go on! Do you have a day care center who provides before and after school care for a fee? You said it yourself - they are your world -! Don't leave them alone, even for an instant - not in this day and age!

Wendy - posted on 05/07/2012

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Jaycee Duggard. Etan Patz. Both abducted at the bus stop. One eventually came home, the other has been missing for over 30 years. No job is worth putting your children at risk. If something were to happen you would never forgive yourself. I say better safe than sorry.

Shawnn - posted on 05/08/2012

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So, Cara, are YOU ok with your decision? Because, honey, if you are, then you are fine!



No, having kids those ages wait for the bus by themselves is NOT neglect, nor abuse, and honestly, I agree with you. The scare tactics are just that...scare tactics. Jaycee Dugard, Elizabeth Smart...both cute young ladies, both kidnapped, one out of her own house! So, what do you do, put bars on the windows and get paranoid? Nah, you teach your kids how to handle things.



Your original post sounded as if you were maybe uncomfortable with the situation, but your latest sounds like maybe you weren't uncomfortable until someone else suggested that you should be.



Well, if you're comfortable with the situation, go for it! Like I said, my kids took care of their bus needs by themselves at those ages.

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Threenorns - posted on 05/15/2012

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Cara: here's a thought - is there a way you can have the bus pick the kids up from a stop near your work? or somewhere along your route? if you timed it right, you could pack the kids in the car and drive them to a bus stop coinciding with the bus's arrival, bung 'em on the bus, and you're all on your way quick-smart.

Threenorns - posted on 05/15/2012

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Brenda Sydnor: had you read the link, you would've seen that most of the stats DID come from the states and the results were comparable in proportion to the population (in other words, although the actual number was higher, the percentage was the same for both countries).



"Most of the research studies on this topic has been completed in the United States. Even though the actual numbers of occurrences differ considerably, the characteristics and patterns of stranger abduction incidents are extremely similar. In the United States, the NISMART 2 study estimated that there were about 115 stereotypical non-family abductions each year. Over the past five years, the number of Canadian cases reported in the stranger abduction category, which includes relatives and close friends, ranged from 42 cases in 1998 to 35 cases in 2002. In comparing the two countries by population, Canada and the United States have similar and distinctive characteristics regarding the number of stereotypical non-family abductions."



http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/pubs/omc-ned/a...





i have seen this over and over and over - how "dangerous" it is to live in the states. it's almost like americans are bragging about it.



if it's such a horrible, crime-ridden place where you can't even let your kids play without a bodyguard and satellite surveillance, why for crying out loud would you want to live there!? come to canada - 97% of the country is unpopulated; i'm sure we could find room.

Genevieve - posted on 05/15/2012

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I personally would not feel comfortable with that at all. It's not a matter of not trusting them with responsibility, it's appreciating that they are still children and may not think to be as safe as an adult (or most adults!) would be. Not just about predators. Also about road safety and making sure that your eldest child will stop the little one from running out into the road, for example. I have a 2 year old that my 12 year old niece babysits for me but she has just started babysitting 5 months ago or so as she was not "mature" enough prior to that. You know your kids best, trust your mommy spidy senses lol :)

Threenorns - posted on 05/15/2012

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@wendy hammersmith: why is it we read, day after day, about the child that went missing, the car that flew off the overpass, the plane that went down? where are the news stories that say "and, in local news, two hundred and ten thousand four hundred and thirty two children; 32 million vehicles; and 15000 planes had no incident whatsoever today."



oh - right - cause that's boring.

Brandie - posted on 05/15/2012

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my kids are 9 and11 ,i wait for the bus with them,my 4yrold goes with me.we live in a small town also ,the houses are closer though, we live on a busy road and cars go through either extremely fast or don't watch where they are going .my kids are also my world.no its not a bad choice,my next door neighbor relies that i m there so she doesn't even go out of her way to watch her 10 old get on the bus

Markita - posted on 05/15/2012

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I think it depends on how mature your kids are. If you feel like they can handle it and they know how to protect themselves from predators then I say go for it. Only you know your children well enough to make this decision. I wish you lots of luck.

Jen - posted on 05/15/2012

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Are you ladies serious? I live in a CITY. A city in the UNITED STATES with typical crime that comes along with living in a CITY. My children have been home by themselves after school for YEARS. They are now 14 and 15. They walk home by themselves from school. Have done so FOR YEARS. At least as old as the OP's oldest child.

The reason our children today do not know how to take care of themselves is because of helicopter parents. 10 minutes at a bus stop alone is not going to invite anymore danger than if they were home with you for that 10 minutes. Anything can happen, home invasions happen when people are INSIDE THE HOME.

Good night ladies. We are raising children who do not know how to take care of themselves. I see it all the time in my work. These kids are going to grow up and not be able to take care of themselves. Please remove the protective bubble from your children, pray for coverage, teach them about stranger danger, how to use a phone, drugs, and how to protect themselves, then for Christ's sake let them be kids.

Lisa - posted on 05/15/2012

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When we were young my mom would take us to the bus stop and wait until we got on the bus and most days pick us up from the bus. I did the same for my step-son and plan on doing the same for my daughter.
If it were me I would explain this situation to my boss and try to reach a compromise in scheduling or have someone I trust wait with them until they were safely on the bus....Or take them to school myself.
Lisa

Amanda - posted on 05/15/2012

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The issue I see is that its something that would be done repetitively. I don't care how big or small your community repetitive actions invite trouble. Its why women are encouraged to change up their routines and never take the same way home every single day especially not at the same time every day. Most people are creatures of habit so if someone wants to take/hurt your babies it would make it easy for them to do so. I would recommend before and after school care programs if you have them if not think about a stay-at-home mom in your neighborhood who might be willing to keep an eye on them for 10 minutes. See if you can trade a special skill of your own as payment if money is tight (as it is for most of us). Offer to babysit one night a week for her if nothing else so you can get to work and she can have a night off to spend with her hubby. Or you can see if you can arrange a later work day so you can get there later and spend time with your kiddos while waiting. If they're like mine they're happier in the mornings so it can be great quality time! Hope you can work it out safely and effectively!

Brenda - posted on 05/15/2012

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About three years ago, there was a four year old boy named Ivan, whose mother let him run the streets. They lived near the Churchill Downs area. One day he disappeared. A pedophile named Cecil New lived in the apartments on that street. He kidnapped, sexually molested and then murdered this little boy and threw him in the garbage. The little boy was found several days later in a trash bag in the back of a garbage truck.

Penelope - posted on 05/15/2012

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I wouldn't do it nowadays, even in a small town. There have been too many instances of child kidnapping.

Laurene - posted on 05/15/2012

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I wouldnt leave my children at that age but I am not in the situation you are. My kids are all grown but I still worry about them even now. I dont think if your area is safe that it would be too bad

Brenda - posted on 05/15/2012

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Reply to Threenorns,
You obviously don't live in the United States. It is not even safe to leave your vehicle unlocked unless you want someone to get in it, and I live in a pretty decent neighborhood. I would have been more impressed with your statistics if they had come from the United States. I live in Kentucky. Just recently, a man in Indiana (just over the river from us.) was arrested for murdering 2 women (10 years apart) the body of another young woman was discovered buried in his back yard. That's three women, plus they are searching his property for more. Women and children are abducted and murdered in this country frequently. A lot of families never have closure because their child is never found or heard from again.

Neri - posted on 05/15/2012

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Please Do Not! Anything can happen Anywhere! Town size irrelevant. Children should never be left alone, especially at that age, IMO. I say better safe than sorry. No amount of money is worth it!

Christine - posted on 05/15/2012

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Similar reasons our doors are unlocked, and keys are left in spare vehicles, and we know our neighbors and everyone knows everyone elses kids. I know two seperate people that drive by wave and say hello to my kids. One of the advantages of small town and rural life. (I also have direct contact with our bus driver.

Threenorns - posted on 05/15/2012

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yeah - i caught it.



i, too, worked from home supposedly to spend more time with my daughter. it was an epic fail - she basically spent the entire day by herself upstairs while i dispatched HVAC and water heater repair, directed customers to the appropriate dept, and handled emergency calls (gas leaks, gushing hot water tanks, hysterical old ppl, carbon monoxide leaks).



i now work 2 days a week at a book shop and the money is WAY less than it was. i had to: i made the decision to pull her out of school and home school her because the school was not performing to my standard.



in my town, go up any street and you'll find kids ranging from about 4 or 5 and on up playing - riding bikes and skateboards, playing street hockey, throwing rocks into the river, fishing, climbing on the rock pile where they dumped the debris from the canadian tire construction site, building go-carts from skateboards and milk crates, etc.



not an adult in sight (but should one of the kids yell, there'll be at least a few heads popping out of doors or up over deck rails to holler back - and it's most likely not one of the relevent parents, either!).



that's a *normal* childhood, not hovering within arm's reach of mum and dad until they leave for college.



my 5yr old plays outside on the yard and no, i don't go out there and eagle-eye her all the time.



she also makes her own scrambled eggs (the only thing i do is turn the stove on and off) and the other day, she completely assembled the blender and made her own strawberrie smoothie. she does her own bank deposits and when we go to tim horton's, she's the one waiting in line to give the order and pay.

Threenorns - posted on 05/15/2012

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funny, isn't it - one would think the parents reacting so strongly had been informed that they, themselves, *must* leave their children alone at the bus stop.



something else to consider: i also live in small town and i've lived in an even smaller town - triple-digit population. when i moved myself and my two daughters away, it was statistically significant, that's how small the population was. we NEVER locked the door there - and the only reason we lock the door here is because my daughter's father is from Toronto. when i lived in the middle of the bush, i never EVER locked my door: someone might take the ditch coming down that hill in the winter and need the phone to call for help or maybe just somewhere warm to sit and a cup of coffee to recoup the strength to dig out (signal dead zone). i wouldn't want to be responsible for someone having to either leave the kids in the car while they walked about a half-hour or so before they could find someone home or, worse, have to walk the kids through the cold and snow just because i couldn't be bothered to leave the door unlatched when i went to town.



if you cannot trust the ppl in your neighbourhood, then you probably ought to move.

Christine - posted on 05/15/2012

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Sadly as with many threads I've seen on this site there are many rude parents that feel that only their opinion is right, when they have no clue concerning a families situation or the individual's involved. Life is about choices and our freedom to make the ones that our best for us!

Karen - posted on 05/15/2012

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I would look at your laws in your state in leaving children alone. Some states say you need to be 12 or even 14 before they are even allowed to look after a younger sibling. In addition, because it has happened here that the bus broke down and came about an hour later. We called the school and I had no transportation to take my children but knew about the bus being broken down. I would hate for that to happen to you. I would be meeting other families before school starts to see if they could be left at their bus stop.

Marie - posted on 05/15/2012

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No the world is not kind... I went back to a stressful all the hours that God gives job when my son was 8 months old. That was 6 years ago. Bad move even though the money was good. Now I have a house worth 30% of my old London pad hence do not have to be in a highly paid job. Ihave 2 jobs which I manage from home and whilst I am nowhere near as well off as before, I can spend every minute of every day with my 10 month old daughter. There is always another wy, just depends if you're willing to make the necessary adjustments!

Kelly - posted on 05/15/2012

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Talk to ur boss sometimes they are understanding if u belong to a church or get to know some off the other parents then ask them . I understand its hard and scary in this world so get to know ppl before u leave ur child with them.

Shalanda - posted on 05/15/2012

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I think it depends you know your children the best. My son and daughter are 7 and 9 and wait for the bus in the morning. I had to have long talks with them and the first week I was with them just to kind of see the surroundings and lay any necessary additional ground rules. Once they get on the bus my daughter text me and let me know they are safe.

Nola - posted on 05/15/2012

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No way they are too young and innocent to leave at a bus stop.. Is your work schedule more important than the safety of your children... start 10 minutes later or change jobs..

Lily - posted on 05/15/2012

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I wouldn't do that just because they are still so young and there's so many creeps out there. There was a recent article that investigators reopened the case that was closed closed over 31 years ago of a 5 year old who was walking to the school bus stop and was kidnapped and they never found the child. He became the face of the milk carton :( its such a sad story.

Amy - posted on 05/15/2012

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Once again, there are many rude people on here and some profanity. We all need to realize that families have different circumstances and that this nice woman asked for advice not bashing or arguing amongst posters. She needs to pick what to do based on her comfort level. Cara you could try to talk to the school and see what suggestions they have. They could be aware of what some parents have done to relieve this issue. Good Luck :)

Christine - posted on 05/15/2012

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Thanks for finding that information Threenorns! A productive and helpful post.

Kristi - posted on 05/15/2012

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First of all Sylvia the rudeness is not just coming from those that disagree with you, the rudeness is coming from moms like you that think it is okay to just leave kids out there alone..the bus drivers have said not to but others ignore that. Who do you think knows better, YOU or the bus drivers who deal with this all the time ? Answer that

Threenorns - posted on 05/15/2012

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Marie Brittendon: nice that you have the luxury to rework your finances on the fly like that. most of us are not so fortunate. whether you like it or not, the world is not kind to stay-at-home parents or parents who put their kids ahead of their jobs (commonly called "unemployed").

Threenorns - posted on 05/15/2012

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Little Miss Can't Be Wronger: you ARE wrong. you need to check your facts on that: http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/pubs/omc-ned/a...





first off, "stranger", as defined by law enforcement, is anyone who is not the immediate parent or legal guardian. so if a child is taken from school and molested by grampa, that's a stranger kidnapping as far as crime statistics is concerned.



for the years 2001-2002, in all of canada, there were only 5 true "stranger" kidnappings:



"The common assumption that the offender is someone who just comes out of nowhere and snatches a child is rare. Most commonly the offender is in an area for a legitimate reason and is known to the child and/or family. Therefore, it easier for the abductor to lure the child to a suitable destination. Some researchers state that offenders do not have any predisposed methods for choosing their victims. Abductors admit and confess to police, "It just happened!". In this study, the abductor was a complete stranger in one case, and in the other four cases known to the family.



Studies report that the killer is usually a socially inept young white adult male, about 27 years of age, looks like everyone else, and most often has a criminal history of violence. In the Canadian study, the average age of the abductor was 23 years, three of the abductors were white males, one was black and the other, a white female. Three offenders had previous criminal records."

Marie - posted on 05/15/2012

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PS those of you who think a cellphone helps - Milly Dowler had a phone. What use was it to her??

Marie - posted on 05/15/2012

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Why not rethink your career to fit your family needs instead of forcing your family to fit in with your work? Problem solved!

~♥Little Miss - posted on 05/15/2012

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It is 10 fucking minutes. Any one of you that would not take the extra 10 minutes to ensure your childrens safety really needs to reevaluate your priorities.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 05/15/2012

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You have GOT to be kidding me!! Please PLEASE be kidding me!?! "ranger danger was one of the worst progrsmmes ever introduced!" So many kids are kidnapped regularly. Yes, it can be done by those that we know, or total strangers. Don't be a total fool. Open your eyes. SMH.

Karleena - posted on 05/15/2012

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If it's only 10 minutes, wouldn't you feel more secure waiting the 10 minutes? It also depends on how mature your older child is, is she responsible enough of the 5 year old unattended and outside? My I had to leave my oldest years ago ( when he was 9) with his younger sisters ( 7 and 3) but neighbors were home as well. They had to stay inside the house.

Christine - posted on 05/15/2012

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Totally agree with Sylvia Hunter on all points!Stranger danger was one of the worst progrsmmes ever introduced! Children are usually harmed by someone they know, check the statistics. I live in rural Alberta and its and it is usually neighbors driving by and waving not perverts and everything else parents find to scare themselves with. I would recommend a key to the house just in case, unless you're like us and the rest of our neighborhood and don't even lock the doors to start with.

Kimmie M. - posted on 05/15/2012

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I live in Morgan Hill, California. Ask Marlene Lamar that question now and she may very well say the answer is no.. Her daughter, Sierra Lamar, 15 years old was kidnapped on March 16th, 2012, while on her way to her bus stop or while at it, they are still not sure.She is still missing. I drive my children to and from school, 16 and 8 years. Yes, I have given up many jobs and a few promotions because I choose to be this responsible with my children. I maek about 2,000 less per month than I did pre-kids, and there are times when we do struggle financially however.. I think they are worth it. I created them..it is my job to protect them, guide them, provide for them and raise them... If you work during the hours they need to go to and from school then.. perhaps you can find someone to walk them or maybe you can talk with your employer about a lunch time change come in a bit later, work a bit later???..... I dont believe people should live in fear that their children may get kidnapped, however, they do, get kidnapped, dont they. This is just my opininon as there are others on this site. Sure hope you figure it out!! :-)

Sam Marie - posted on 05/15/2012

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hi, having just read back on other comments, i have realised that you are from the us, where as i am in the uk, where the laws are probably quite differrent, and so may be are typical ways, cultures and attitudes.
that said, i dont think the risk of peodiophiles or kidnapping is particularly likely ( although may vary from one area to another) but more the risk of induries such as the child getting knocked down. accidents happen so easily, and a 9 year is unlikely to be able to take into consideration things for the 5 year old, or forsee risks and then prevent them as an adult would.

Anna - posted on 05/15/2012

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My daughter started getting off of the schoolbus at 8 (third grade) and walking home and waiting for me to get home from work 20 minutes later and that has worked really well. She has a cell phone and that definitely makes me more comfortable. I don't know if I would be as comfortable of she didn't have a phone.

Sam Marie - posted on 05/15/2012

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hi, i can not say what is right and what is wrong, but i myself have 4 children, my youngest of which is 5 and i have only just allowed him to go out to the shops and cinema with my son who is 15 this year. in my opinion, a child a 9 is only JUST about old enough to take themselves, and i would not consider a 9 year old , old enough to care for a 5 year old. i believe the age for when chidren are recomended to be able to care for younger siblings is aproximatley 14 , although this is whilst caring for them in the home, but personally i think there are even more risks out side than inside the home.
that said, i am not judging, i feel too many people judge, and when i allowed my older children (then aged 9 and 10 )to start walking to and from school without an adult, i was heavily critisised by many other mums.

hope that helps.

Jen - posted on 05/15/2012

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My kids caught the bus by themselves at that age, and we live in big cities. You live in a small town. I would.

Threenorns - posted on 05/15/2012

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btw: to everybody rattling on about the number of pedophiles and child molesters, chew on this - the VAST majority of sex crimes against children were committed by their own family and trusted ppl (and not all of those were adults, either).

Threenorns - posted on 05/15/2012

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so many children so safe in their little bubble-wrapped worlds. what's going to happen when you'er no longer there to protect them from the mythical boogey monsters? personally, i prefer to teach my kids how to look after themselves: be strong, be smart, be active, and be safe.

to the OP: you know your children. are they mature enough to handle a wait of a few minutes? do you have a backup plan in case the unforeseen happens - you wouldn't want them locked out of the house or stuck home alone all day if it turns out the buses were cancelled unexpectedly, right?

if you have your bases covered and your kids are up for it, i see nothing wrong with letting them actually learn - cover your ears, helicopter parents - **independence** and *responsibility*.

Sylvia - posted on 05/15/2012

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Kristi, I agree that there have been some really rude and unhelpful comments on this thread. But as far as I can see, all of them have been from people on your side of the fence, telling Cara she's a terrible parent for even considering letting her kids out of her sight for 10 minutes. And really, you're going to tell us we're unfriendly because we asked you for specifics on your "it's illegal!" claims and that we don't care about our kids because we're not paralyzed with terror every time they leave the house without us? Wow.

Krysti, when you say "Us mom's [sic] can't leave ANY room for any bad things to happen to our babies." ... you realize that's not actually realistic, right? Bad things happen. Sometimes bad things happen to kids with loving, caring, responsible parents. You CANNOT protect your kids from absolutely everything! Reality just doesn't work like that. Besides, sometimes you have to choose: Am I going to protect my kids from kidnapping by driving them to school every day, or am I going to protect them from the health consequences of inactivity by letting them walk or ride their bikes? Which is the bigger risk? (Hint: it's not kidnapping.)

Nicole - posted on 05/15/2012

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I have two children twelve and five....I am asingle mom with no real help....my twelve year old is very responsible and babysits his brother for me for no longer then two hours at a time ....I think iy depends on the responsibility and maturity level of your oldest child....I think it would be fine but I also recommend getting him a cell phone just in case

Nancy - posted on 05/15/2012

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I am a former bus driver and my answer is PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE YOUR CHILDREN ALONE to wait for the bus. Too much can happen in 10 minutes. I agree a trusted neighbor would be a good choice. Or you could ask any of their schoolmates's parents if they could be dropped off at their house to catch the bus with them. Good luck!

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