At what age would you let your child walk the mall alone? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 100 Old 12-20-2007, 01:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm not yet a mother, and neither are my co-workers, but we just had a conversation about letting our future kids walk around the mall/town/neighborhood alone. I was shocked to find that I was alone in the thought that I wouldn't let an 8 year old walk around the mall by herself. My co-workers said they were walking around town alone by that age, and they thought it was fine. One said that as long as her kid had a cell phone, she wouldn't care if they went anywhere alone.

My opinion - My 8 year old should be in my sight in public places like the mall, and if they aren't in my sight, they should be in the sight of another adult that I trust. Am I being overprotective before I even have kids? I don't want to stifle them, but 8 seems young to me.

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#2 of 100 Old 12-20-2007, 02:34 PM
 
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You're not alone. I agree that's too young.

I heard on the radio this morning that an 11-year-old got sexually assaulted and threatened with murder when she was walking home from a friend's house.... at THREE O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING!!!!! What is a child of that age doing outside at that time of day??? :

Holy smokes. I think kids need to have independence, but not to the point that it puts their safety at risk.
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#3 of 100 Old 12-20-2007, 04:43 PM
 
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I would say, it depends on where you live and the kind of mall. Certainly not if I was still living in NYC. Over here (Germany) in my 500.000 people town I certainly would. We have reasonably sized malls, with 2 floors, each 100m long. I would tell him to meet at a certain store at a certain time.
The same goes for walking around the neighbourhood. Heck, I even sent the 6yr old out to get some groceries and a kids magazine by himself (its a 5min walk). He's fine with that. We have sidewalks and the cars go slow. He's been playing outside since he was 4. At first with frequent checks every 5 minutes or so, now he stays outside for 2-3 hours. He stops at home ocasionally for going to the bathroom, getting toys or a drink. There are several other kids around, the neighbours pretty much know which kid belongs where, he knows how far he is allowed to stray from the house (about 300 m in each direction) and he hears the churchbells at six which is his signal to come home.
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#4 of 100 Old 12-21-2007, 11:10 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Just looking for my thread ?

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#5 of 100 Old 12-21-2007, 11:20 AM
 
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well, my children are 4 and 6, and we don't go to "the mall" but for the sake of argument, I would say I would allow my children to walk around alone when the oldest is around 14 and I am also "in" the mall somewhere with some way to keep in contact.

They can go to the mall by themselves when they can drive themselves there.

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#6 of 100 Old 12-21-2007, 11:21 AM
 
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No way. I was probably 12 before my mom let me walk around the mall alone, and that was before all this terrorist crap and other nastiness. I agree that cell phones do help, but any 8 y/o can have a phone taken from them long before they can use it if they are attacked by an adult. 8 y/o's are just NOT strong enough to defend themselves and they don't have the experience to know when someone is a true threat or just being friendly. KWIM? Personally, I lean more towards the 11-12 age for being at the mall unsupervised. Walking to the local store, maybe more like 10, but still I'd be paranoid about it. I grew up in a pretty small town too and I don't remember going anywhere alone till I was over 10, other than the neighbor kids houses.

Am I strange in this?

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#7 of 100 Old 12-21-2007, 11:40 AM
 
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I was thinking along the lines of 13 or so. When i was younger i would walk a ton of places when i was 11, but i know i was more responsible and mature than Some teens are today so really i'd have to know my own kids before deciding.
Also they are still very young, who knows how the world will change in ten years.
I for sure think an eight year old is too young. But thats just my opinion. Others may feel different. and just cuz they have a cell phone, well i think thats just a false sense of security.

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#8 of 100 Old 12-21-2007, 11:53 AM
 
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It would depend on the kid and the area. I know I was walking/biking to school and taking the city bus all over town alone by 11, in an ok but not super great town. My little sister, then 11, and I, then 14, were set loose in DC by my Mom for several days while she was at a conference. But she knew we'd spend all our time at the Smithsonians. It was great.

I'm a long-time Girl Scout, so I have the buddy system permanently stamped into my skull. So, assuming my child and the friend/sib she was with were responsible enough not to leave the building, we had a firm meeting time, and they knew where to find help if they needed it, I'd probably let them roam at 8 or 9. Younger kids could be without parent supervision if there was an (again, reasonably responsible) older sibling-say 12 or so. If they're old enough to babysit, they're old enough to take their younger siblings shopping.

I would likely not let my child go somewhere completely alone (no buddy or adult) until middle school, and only then if I was pretty sure they could be trusted to be where they said they were going to be. And, yeah, no wandering the streets at 3 AM. Heck, I won't wander the streets alone at 3 AM.

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#9 of 100 Old 12-21-2007, 01:41 PM
 
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Dd is 12, and I certainly wouldn't let her walk around the mall alone. Even with a friend, I'd be pretty leary at this age. Maybe in another year or two. I think, personally, the mall isn't a good place for that kind of independence as a first step . . . maybe some other venue would work better.
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#10 of 100 Old 12-21-2007, 02:12 PM
 
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I let my dd walk around the mall with friends while I was at the mall when she was 11. By 12-13, I was willing to drop them off.

She's 15, I don't think I would let her walk around completely alone even now. I don't really know why either, it just feels wrong.
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#11 of 100 Old 12-21-2007, 02:47 PM
 
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We never go to the mall, but if I were there, I'd have let ds1 walk around by himself at 8, no problem. He was walking to school alone at 10.

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#12 of 100 Old 12-21-2007, 02:58 PM
 
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I'm thinking somewhere in the 12-13ish age range.

To me, it's not just about "walking alone". If the child were truly walking alone and had a mission (go to X store and buy Y, then come right back), I might be okay with it.

Most of the time, the kids are there to hang out. Do 8 year olds (or 12-13 yr olds for that matter) likes to walk around the mall by themselves? I've pretty much only seen kids walking the mall in a group. And I know from personal experience that groups somehow alter the decision-making capacity of kids and they end up doing things they wouldn't have normally. Kids just tend to do more stupid things in front of their friends than alone. That is what worries me most.

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#13 of 100 Old 12-21-2007, 03:05 PM
 
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My son is 12. I would not let him walk the mall by himself until he was at least 16, and even then, if he didn't have his cell phone, if I wasn't also in the mall, if he wasn't with a friend or whatever, I'm not sure that would happen. Then again, we do live about 20 miles from the nearest mall.

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#14 of 100 Old 12-21-2007, 03:46 PM
 
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Depends on the area you live in, but for myself I would say 12 years old.
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#15 of 100 Old 12-21-2007, 06:00 PM
 
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Originally Posted by crazydiamond View Post
Most of the time, the kids are there to hang out. Do 8 year olds (or 12-13 yr olds for that matter) likes to walk around the mall by themselves? I've pretty much only seen kids walking the mall in a group.
Although the OP did use the word "alone," I assumed she just meant without parents, not technically being by oneself.

It would depend on the kid, but I guess I'd start feeling okay with my kid walking around the mall with no adults around 13-14. Who knows how my answer will change once I actually have kids that age, though.

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#16 of 100 Old 12-21-2007, 06:09 PM
 
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Although the OP did use the word "alone," I assumed she just meant without parents, not technically being by oneself.
Oh, yeah I understood that too. I guess I was trying to say that if the child were truly alone (no friends or adults) I'd be okay with the child going somewhere specific at a younger age than I would if the child were to be roaming around with friends.

And since most kids won't enjoy being all alone with no friends, my answer would definitely be "older than 8".

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#17 of 100 Old 12-21-2007, 06:11 PM
 
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seriously, I would encourage my children to never go to the mall to begin with. We shop locally not at chains. But, if a mall visit is necessary, I would let her go without a parent when she is a teen. Still not alone. No one should be at the mall alone. That is just sad.
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#18 of 100 Old 12-21-2007, 06:14 PM
 
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my twins are almost 8. maybe they are immature (??) but there is NO WAY I think they'd be able to handle themselves in a mall without an adult! (or maybe I just have little faith in them??)

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#19 of 100 Old 12-21-2007, 06:27 PM
 
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No one should be at the mall alone. That is just sad.
Umm...why is it sad?

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#20 of 100 Old 12-21-2007, 06:38 PM
 
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The mall is not within walking distance, but even if it were, I'd just take the time to hop in the car and drop DS off...so no walking alone required.

To walk the mall (inside), the earliest age I might feel comfortable with is 13...and that's WITH a group of friends AND he has a cell phone.

I just don't see the point in letting an 8 year old child walk the mall alone. In my region, the child would get stopped by Mall Security and ask "Where are your Parents?"

All Children Under Age 18 must be accompanied by an Adult.

That's posted in just about all the malls in my region.
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#21 of 100 Old 12-22-2007, 03:45 PM
 
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Not 8. My 9yos best friend goes to look at toys, DVDs and video games in Walmart while his mum does the shopping, and that freaks me out whenever we bump into him there. (He is a very grownup little boy, but still...) My 9yo gets to go to the local shop by himself, crossing two roads with traffic controls, and gets to take the bus to school by himself if we're having some kind of domestic crisis that means I can't go with them. My 7yo can go on the bus by himself too, but only with his brothers company. That said, in our neighbourhood if they sneezed without covering their mouths with their hands I'd know about it before the end of the day.

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#22 of 100 Old 12-22-2007, 04:27 PM
 
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I think I was about 12 before I could go to the mall with friends without a parent there (we'd still have to be dropped off/picked up--no public transit, not sure if my parents would have let me use it anyway). I could go completely alone when I could drive there myself, but I didn't really want to unless I had a specific thing to buy. (I still only go to the mall if I need something at the Apple Store -- everything else I try to buy from local merchants, thrift stores, etc.)

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#23 of 100 Old 12-22-2007, 04:40 PM
 
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DS is 7 and if we're at the mall together and having a snack and he has to use the washroom he goes through the mall to the washroom and back on his own while I stay at the table. I'd be OK with him going to a store in the mall on his own if he had a desire to. When we're in a department store and I'm looking at clothes he'll often go to the toy section alone and browse for a bit. he does that in the grocery store as well as I shop.
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#24 of 100 Old 12-22-2007, 04:55 PM
 
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I must be missing something. What is the concern with a kid in the mall?

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#25 of 100 Old 12-22-2007, 04:59 PM
 
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I think about 12 or 13 in groups, but I don't think I'd let a kid go to the mall by themselves with no friends until they are about 16 or 17 in groups, depending on the maturity of the child. I don't really think there is any "right" age, because a lot of it depends on the kid, the area, ext. I was allowed to walk around the mall freely when I was about 16 or so, and since then, I pretty much came and went to the house as I pleased. My mom worried about me, but I was pretty smart about things.

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#26 of 100 Old 12-22-2007, 06:19 PM
 
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Originally Posted by newmommy View Post
All Children Under Age 18 must be accompanied by an Adult.

That's posted in just about all the malls in my region.
Wow. Where do you live? Every place I've lived has had lots of teens at the mall. In fact a good portion of the mall stores are aimed at teens, so if they weren't allowed to be there alone, a lot of those stores would go under!
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#27 of 100 Old 12-22-2007, 06:45 PM
 
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All Children Under Age 18 must be accompanied by an Adult.

That's posted in just about all the malls in my region.
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Wow. Where do you live? Every place I've lived has had lots of teens at the mall. In fact a good portion of the mall stores are aimed at teens, so if they weren't allowed to be there alone, a lot of those stores would go under!
I know! Malls would close if teens weren't allowed to hang in them. So a teen is old enough to babysit children all by themselves but not shop? Sole responsibility for the welfare of a younger child is OK and serving us our drinks and fries is OK and working the cash at stores in the mall is OK but being in the mall without a parent isn't? No wonder teens feel so confused and disrespected in our world!
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#28 of 100 Old 12-22-2007, 07:03 PM
 
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I know! Malls would close if teens weren't allowed to hang in them. So a teen is old enough to babysit children all by themselves but not shop? Sole responsibility for the welfare of a younger child is OK and serving us our drinks and fries is OK and working the cash at stores in the mall is OK but being in the mall without a parent isn't? No wonder teens feel so confused and disrespected in our world!
Wait! They wouldn't be able to serve drinks and fries unless their parent is there, according to that policy! And somehow I can't see a lot of parents agreeing to spend four or six hours hanging out at the food court at Macy's while their teenager works!
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#29 of 100 Old 12-22-2007, 07:26 PM
 
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I am kinda a stages type person. Around 8 or nine we would let her and her friend go to another store while we finished up. as in "we will meet you at XYZ store in about 10 minutes.by this age (11) I would let her and some friends wander around by them self as long as I was in the building. By 13 I would hope she would be mature enough to be left alone in the building (although I believe our mall does not allow this. i think anyone under 16 has to be accompanied by an adult)

all that said we only go to the mall about three times a year. At target they are free to roam and a the grocery store they act like they own the place.

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#30 of 100 Old 12-23-2007, 05:25 PM
 
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It depends on a lot of things- the individual kid, the specific environment, the time maybe? I don't think there can be just one right answer for these kinds of questions really.

My kids were okay around the mall at 11 or so together or with friends, but I was usually in the mall too and we'd meet up somewhere at a time or call each other etc. They mostly prefered to hang with me anyway.

Now at 14 and 16 they can go without me no problem. A mall being off limits to kids under 18 unless they have an adult with them is one of the most ridiculous things ever, IMO.

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