How old to walk to school alone?? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 34 Old 01-07-2010, 11:56 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hello all,

How old to walk to school alone? My city has pop of 521,999. At 730A as I was driving back from dropping my son @ his highschool I saw two litle girls, sisters obviously, holding hands, (awww) and walking to the elementary by my home.

They appeared to be say 5 and 7, walking alone. At the intersection (with crossing guard) where I saw em, they were STILL @ least 2/3 blocks from school.

Too young or not? If too young, how old Is old enough in safe yet urbanish area for children to walk alone? Does having an older sibling affect answer?

Yes, I know, it's based on the child. I'm more just looking for a general opinion or your own personal experiences either as a child or as an adult.

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#2 of 34 Old 01-07-2010, 12:30 PM
 
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I wouldn't feel comfortable around my area at all, regardless of age. But in general, probably around age 8. Never alone, always with friends or crossing guards, etc.
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#3 of 34 Old 01-07-2010, 01:08 PM
 
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I personally would not feel comfortable with my 8(in Feb.)yo walking to school that is several blocks away now or anytime in the near future. I have lived in a town that is about your population. I now live in a town that is only a stone's throw from an urban area with a pop. of 1MIL. I grew up in a town of 5K people. So, I've lived in a lot of different types of urban and rural areas.

In the US, no, I wouldn't be comfortable with a 5 and 7 yo. walking to school several block from home by themselves. We used to live abroad and I would be comfortable with it in those places more than the US (Germany most specifically).
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#4 of 34 Old 01-07-2010, 01:10 PM
 
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I'm sure my 7-year-old could handle it. She wouldn't have been able to at 5, but probably would have with an older sibling. So I don't see a problem.
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#5 of 34 Old 01-07-2010, 01:10 PM
 
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Not sure which part of ABQ you are in, but I know I would not be comfortable with that.

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#6 of 34 Old 01-07-2010, 01:14 PM
 
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I don't see a problem either. My kids walked to and from school by themselves when they were 1st and 3rd grade. It's probably about 4 blocks and there is a crossing guard on the busy street.
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#7 of 34 Old 01-07-2010, 01:22 PM
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My son will be 7 this month and has been walking home from school (.4 miles/4 blocks) since October. We drive him in the morning because it is too cold. We live in a very safe city of only 110,000 people. He gets upset if I am there to pick him up in the afternoon because he likes the walk home alone to clear his head after a busy school day. I think 1st grade is a good age to start walking to/from school. I walked or biked to school in first grade and it was farther than my son walks.
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#8 of 34 Old 01-07-2010, 02:33 PM
 
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I would allow it, as long as there weren't major roads to cross on the way. I think 5 is a bit young, though. I let my 5 year old walk home alone from the bus, about a quarter mile, but she doesn't cross anything but a nearly-empty parking lot and a field. 7 sounds just fine to me for a walk home of several blocks or even more. I don't understand what it is people fear about this scenario, other than traffic accidents.

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#9 of 34 Old 01-07-2010, 02:42 PM
 
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What I fear, including traffic accidents, is that there are a lot of weirdos out there who will do bad things to little kids.

It's easy enough to keep my kid out of harm's way by walking with him. Simple as that.

I'm not an overly fearful person - I had enough of that with my nervous mother - but I don't see a point in putting my kid out there at a young age. I live in an affluent little village (though I'm certainly not affluent!), it's a nice place, no "bad" neighborhoods, but I remember when the school was concerned about some creepy guy that would park in a minivan and watch the kids come out of the school. Anyone who thinks their kid couldn't be a victim is fooling themselves.
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#10 of 34 Old 01-07-2010, 02:57 PM
 
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statistically speaking, your kid is way more likely to be victimized by a known assailant than an unknown one. I feel quite secure in my 1st & 3rd graders walking to school together in the morning. I certainly am aware that there is always the potential for bad, and so I lower the odds by requiring them to stay together at all times, be aware of their surroundings and to come home right away.
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#11 of 34 Old 01-07-2010, 03:02 PM
 
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It would certainly depend on the area and the child....and well, the parents comfort levels (and they will be able to know their children best) too. Circumstance could be a factor as well...such as 'alone' or with siblings and/or friends.

I would never live in a city if I didn't have to.
We live in the country. A small village very close to a small town...its the kind of place where most people know your name! lol
The school is also, literally, right next door to us.
If my son were going to school (hes not lol) - I would be comfortable with him walking alone at the age of 6. Even if that included a road or two to cross.
For comparisons sake - I would probably feel comfortable with him walking the mile to the store and back at the age of 8 alone where we live.

My answers would probably be very different if we lived in the city, and/or we did not have the kind of child that we do (that is, hes very smart, aware, road wise, and cautious).

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#12 of 34 Old 01-07-2010, 03:06 PM
 
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I'll be the voice of dissention. My kid will likely walk from age 5 when he starts school. The 7 year old I babysit walks back and forth from my house everyday. It's really not a big deal.

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#13 of 34 Old 01-07-2010, 03:45 PM
 
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It really depends so much on the area. In my neighborhood now, I'd never let dd walk anywhere without an adult. so hopefully by the time shes old enough we'll be out of this neighborhood

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#14 of 34 Old 01-07-2010, 04:44 PM
 
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Where we live now, I would let my older two walk 2/3 blocks together.

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#15 of 34 Old 01-07-2010, 05:24 PM
 
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I'd be fine with it. They're walking together. There's a crossing guard to help the across the street.

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#16 of 34 Old 01-07-2010, 06:00 PM
 
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Personally, I wouldnt be comfortable with my child walking to school alone at any age.
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#17 of 34 Old 01-07-2010, 06:01 PM
 
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my two walked to school together last year and they were 5 and 8 when school started. so long as they are together and/or with some other buddy i feel comfortable with it. I wouldn't want either of them walking around the neighborhood alone. we live in a low income neighborhood with a lot of pedofiles. honestly come time to go back and forth to school everyone in the neighborhood is watching out for the kids. I would feel a lot less comfortable in a safe neighborhood where no one expects trouble.

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#18 of 34 Old 01-07-2010, 06:31 PM
 
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I live in the same city as you and if my children attended the local public school, then I would let them walk without an adult from probably around age 7 or 8. But, to get to the neighborhood school there is only one busy street to cross and it has a crossing guard (and is also the street the school is on.)

Which area of ABQ was this? There are a lot of scary places here where I would not let my children walk until they were MUCH older.

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#19 of 34 Old 01-07-2010, 06:38 PM
 
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My kids (11 & 8) walked to school this morning without me. I watched til they were 1.5 blocks away and met their friends to go the rest of the way (another block til they were on school grounds). DD has been allowed to walk by herself for the past year or so. DS is still not ready for that. BUT, He has younger friends who can. He is just a pretty anxious little guy and *for him* I don't feel it is okay. I generally go with them not so much for safety at this point but because it's a nice time to spend with them and their friends.

In our neighborhood it is not uncommon to walk "alone" starting in kindergarten. But there are additional adults walking, its a fairly safe neighborhood and it's a walking school, so if you are walking in the about 20 minutes before school starts it's vitually impossible to be truly "alone" (out of eye sight of another walker).

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Originally Posted by mrspineau View Post
Personally, I wouldnt be comfortable with my child walking to school alone at any age.
Are we talking children below a certain age? I wouldn't let my kids walk to Junior High or High School because it's MILES (and mostly non safe walking roads), not because it's not safe.

 

 

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#20 of 34 Old 01-07-2010, 06:43 PM
 
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my mom walked us back and forth to school the 4 blocks until i was 11. we lived in southern california.

when we moved to northern ca, i walked to/from school everyday with a guy friend who was big and strong.

if my kids ever did go to school (we hs), i would never let them walk by themselves. even if it was only a block. then again, i live in california and child abduction seems pretty rampant here. almost everyday i look on the news and see some young girl or even groups of young girls who escaped abduction or was solicited for sex.
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#21 of 34 Old 01-07-2010, 07:27 PM
 
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I won't let my dd walk alone to the middle school and she is 11yo.Ds,8yo is bussed and always will be so that is not an issue.Dd would have to walk through some bad neighborhoods,past busy streets,and there are no walkers who go this far.I think dd is too far to be walking,about 2 miles,but the school disagrees.So my mom gives her a ride in and exh walks her home.I would have allowed her to walk to elementary school,but she was bussed with ds so it never was an issue.I walked alone starting around age 6,to the same elementary school and it was no big deal.

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#22 of 34 Old 01-07-2010, 07:32 PM
 
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I think the buddy system is pretty good for that sort of thing. I rode my bike to and from school in Kindergarten when I was 5 (This wasn't forever ago, this was the 90's) I don't know how far it was, but it was at least a few blocks. I don't think my parents have ever walked me to school. I'd walk with my siblings or friends, or on my own.
That said, I'm pretty laid back about this sort of thing, and I understand if some people are not comfortable with it. Nothing is scarier than worrying about your children's safety!

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#23 of 34 Old 01-07-2010, 09:17 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrspineau View Post
Personally, I wouldnt be comfortable with my child walking to school alone at any age.
I'm glad to hear this. I feel the same way. We live in a "nice" area but a lot of awful things can happen to a person at ANY age when they walk alone. Especially a child who may not be equipped to deal with certain things. And I DO NOT mean simply abduction, but what about stray dogs, or other kids who are walking and who are bigger? Again, we live in a really nice area--but that didn't stop kids from beating the living he** out of one of their classmates who was walking home alone. The reason for the beating? The kid walking alone was an easy target.
Frankly, I'm more afraid of the other kids walking home or stray dogs than I am of strangers.
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#24 of 34 Old 01-07-2010, 09:20 PM
 
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I can't limit my or my kids lives worrying about the infinite what ifs that may happen.
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#25 of 34 Old 01-07-2010, 09:40 PM
 
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My DS is 9 and started walking himself last year. I called for the first 2 weeks to make sure he got there (lol)! He goes to a small neighborhood school. I think 75% of the kids are considered walkers. If you go out around when school gets in or out and you will see tons of kids walking. There are no busy streets for him to cross and there are safeties when you get closer to the school. As far as I know, no one has had any issues. I know most of my neighbors which helps. The school has a different policy for kindergartners...they have to be picked up in person. The rest of the kids just get released to the playground and fend for themselves.
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#26 of 34 Old 01-07-2010, 09:46 PM
 
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My kids walked home from school when the weather was warm, and they are 6 and 8. We live in a town with approx 5,000 people, and the school is 3 blocks up and one block over from our house.

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#27 of 34 Old 01-07-2010, 09:55 PM
 
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I walked 6 blocks to kindergarten by myself in a suburb of NYC. All the kids in the neighborhood did. I don't think the world is any more dangerous now than it was then, although the level of paranoia has certainly changed.

I don't see a problem with a 5yo and 7yo walking to school together.
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#28 of 34 Old 01-09-2010, 04:51 PM
 
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I used to walk home from grade school (a few blocks) because it was a safe area. When I was in Junior High, I didn't walk home because it was through a different section of town that had fewer people walking through it and was a "seedy" part of town. I would say the overall safety of the route traveled would matter far more than the age. Walking with other kids (if they are reasonably well behaved kids anyway) would be a far safer option. People are far less likely to bother a group of kids than an individual, plus their are witnesses/other to help if a situation of any kind were to arise. If it were a safe neighborhood, I would have no qualms letting an 11 yo walk to school alone. Otherwise, trust your instincts, and your knowledge of the maturity/responsibility level of your individual child. My 9 yo for example is a bit of an innocent space cadet, and I definately wouldn't let him walk even though I might with a more responsible child of the same age.

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#29 of 34 Old 01-09-2010, 07:11 PM
 
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I dunno...I can't see letting my dd walk to and from school alone and she's 7. And I like to think I let her be independent and all that...I don't even want my kid on the school bus! lol. If I did let her walk now, it would have to be with friends and I'd follow them the first few days just to be sure...is that bad? If we were in Trinidad sure but not here. When I was growing up I walked to and from school from 6 I think, my mom rarely had time to pick us up or drop us off...single mom.
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#30 of 34 Old 01-10-2010, 08:21 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zinemama View Post
I walked 6 blocks to kindergarten by myself in a suburb of NYC. All the kids in the neighborhood did. I don't think the world is any more dangerous now than it was then, although the level of paranoia has certainly changed.

I don't see a problem with a 5yo and 7yo walking to school together.
Ditto. Plus I started dropping my 2 yr old sister at daycare and picking her up (it was two blocks from school and 4 from home) at 8. I started riding public transit alone at that age too.

Most kids in my neighborhood were doing similar things. I still see young kids walking to school on my way to work in the mornings.

I guess its more common in major cities though???

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