Not long ago, parents in Maryland were accused of child neglect and their two children were taken into Child Protective Services. Why? They had allowed their son and daughter (then 10 and 6 years old) to do the unspeakable: go to the park together, alone, a mile away from their home.
Do you or would you let your school-age kids walk to school and elsewhere alone?
Last summer, a South Carolina mom who sent her 9-year-old to play in a popular park was arrested for not supervising her child. She was held overnight in jail, and her daughter spent 17 days as a ward of the state.
In Manitoba, Crown prosecutors are currently pursuing criminal child abandonment charges against a Winnipeg mother who left her six-year-old home alone for an hour and a half. If she is convicted, the mother will face up to five years in prison.
So we asked (and you answered!) on our site and on social media—at what age will you allow your kids to walk to school…?
Here’s what you said (feel free to weigh in—again or for the first time—on the poll below):
Jenny: “My kids were required to walk in grade 4 and it was 1.6 km from our house to school. Which is way to far especially in our winters. They had to cross 6 streets that had stop signs no lights and no crossing guards. To many drivers are distracted in the morning and not paying attention to little people walking or crossing. In my opinion gr 7-8 could be cutoff. However I have 4 boys and I work so having the 2 older boys walking and the 2 younger ones on the best is not an ideal situation as my jk was left behind on the bus 3 times last year because the bus driver wouldn’t listen to my sk that his baby brother fell asleep and she sent my sk off the bus without his younger brother. Family members should ride TOGETHER. I have learned that nobody cares about how kids get home from school but their parents and I fought until my older boys were on the bus to watch younger siblings. Elementary school is too young to ride alone.”
Andrea M.: “I think I was 9 or 10 and I would walk with a friend or my younger sister. However, the school was also only about 3 blocks away.”
Gia: “I think it depends on the maturity of each child but also on the distance to the school and the type of neighbourhood. No blanket answer.”
Chantal: “What Gia said…”
Jodi: “I remember being fairly young, around grade 2. I think I’ll wait longer for my son :)”
Jennifer: “I’m hoping 9 or 10 will be the magic age for us.Grade 4 is the year I’ll start teaching my son to do it on his own, it’s time. I can’t remember when I started to walk on my own but it was likely not until high school because I always had various siblings to walk with, whether I liked it or not.”
Meagan: “I wish walking buses were a bigger thing. Kids walk to school, adults are supervising. Everyone wins!”
Paintboylive [in reference to safety]: “Luckily with the way our school driveway is laid out it isn’t too bad but I am randomly shocked by the people who think the “no passing” rule doesn’t apply to them.”
Andrea T.: Only parents can ascertain whether kids are mature enough but I think they’re capable by second grade.