11 year olds and public transportation - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 39 Old 06-23-2013, 11:06 AM - Thread Starter
 
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would you let your almost 11 year old take public transportation to go to school?

 

dd starts 6th grade at a middle school 10 miles away. the first two miles she will scooter or bike depending on her mood to catch the bus that will drop her two minutes walking distance from school.

 

how would you feel about that?

 

that is what our plan is. but I have been surprised by how many of my friends - either with no children or with babies - do NOT want dd to take public transportation. they feel it could be dangerous.

 

here are my reasons for sending her

* she is mature and is aware of her surroundings

* she is miss super independence and wants to do it

* she is a tall girl so she looks older

* she follows rules (I don't make many, but she knows which ones are safety ones that she has to follow)

* she had been scootering back and forth from her school 2 miles away thru very busy traffic for a week and did exactly as I told her

* she knows danger rules and has a cool head when in danger situation

* she has a phone

 

I have had so many friends express shock that I expect dd to take the public bus that I am now second guessing myself. but they are also the people who listen to the news and hear about all the abductions and child deaths.

 

what do you think?


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#2 of 39 Old 06-23-2013, 02:34 PM
 
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I think you're comfortable with it, then go with it.  For myself, I would not have been comfortable with that with my children, my two oldest are older than that now, and I have one younger.  I would be a wreck to be honest.  I'd think about them getting hit by a car, falling and getting hurt, getting kidnapped, but that's my anxiety.  Also, my oldest is on the autism spectrum, and at that age, I think it would have been too much for him.  He's 14 now, and I'd probably let him do it...if I could be sure he'd remember to bring his phone!  My middle son is probably capable of it.  He's 12, but he looks like he's 9.  My youngest is 9 and he's ADHD personified.  He'd get distracted by a squirrel and end up in Alaska.  

 

So basically, it depends on the kid, what type of area you live in, and what you are personally comfortable with.  


 
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#3 of 39 Old 06-23-2013, 02:35 PM
 
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P.S.  I'd also post in the teens and pre-teen area.  You may get some more been there done that stories! 


 
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#4 of 39 Old 06-23-2013, 03:05 PM
 
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I wouldn't. A lot of questionable people ride the city bus and the school bus is what DD will take.
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#5 of 39 Old 06-23-2013, 03:09 PM
 
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Yes, from your description I'd be fine with that (well, really I'd be a bit nervous, but it would just be my constant mom-anxiety).  Having ridden in cars, and ridden the school bus, and biked in traffic, and ridden public transit, I'd say that a bit of biking/scootering combined with public transit is preferable to the alternatives, and has the added advantage of giving her that invigorating bit of exercise before class.  What are your friends' specific concerns?  

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#6 of 39 Old 06-23-2013, 05:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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their main concern is questionable people. abduction. pedofile.

 

dd rides the scooter on a busy road all with sidewalks. yes there are questionable people on the bus. but she gets on in a busy area and gets off on a busy area too.

 

I hoping we can figure out a car pool in the future once school starts.

 

I personally don't want to do public transport for the amount of time she will be on the bus - time she could spend on homework unless there are a few kids taking the bus together.

 

the other concern is what if she falls asleep while going to school and misses her stop. perhaps she can set an alarm on her phone.

 

and in our city unless you are a child with special needs, no one else has access to a school bus anymore.


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#7 of 39 Old 06-23-2013, 05:27 PM
 
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I would be a little nervous, but only because I could not see my son doing that. He tends to be a daydreamer and often walks around not paying attention. If he was with a friend, I would feel better about it.

 

My personal experience with getting to and from school was not that great. I was ready and walked home from high school (and maybe even middle school), usually by myself. It was about a mile walk. I remember one time, there as a man in the woods, following me from a distance while taking pictures of me. I was also attacked by a man who was released from a state hospital for "criminally insane" people. He was released for the holidays and was supposed to return, but never did, and they failed to go get him...then he went off his medication, and there you go.

 

It sounds like your child won't need to walk that far, and will mostly be on a bus, which seems safer than walking. Perhaps you could shadow him a few times and then give him some tips on what he could do better?? I know he might not feel trusted, so you could throw it out there first, and tell him that you might follow him once or twice at first, just to make sure it goes smoothly. Better to be up front.

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#8 of 39 Old 06-23-2013, 05:40 PM
 
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Here's my BTDT piece of experience. When my dd was just a bit older (the summer after 6th grade) she took 3 buses, including a transfer at the University where she had to tell the bus driver that she was going to be transferring to the #9 so that he could radio ahead so it would wait for2 extra minutes. She did fine. The Friday before she started her siblings and I all did it as a trial run/adventure. It was the only way we could make the music program work - I work 17 miles away.

Yes, there are sometimes questionable people on the bus. But there are also a lot of hard working people that for whatever reason take public transportation. I view it as another step toward independence. I don't understand parents who totally shelter kiddos and then turn over the keys to a 2 ton weapon. I think independence should be given in baby steps as they are ready. In this sand in other posts, it sounds as if your dd has a good head on her shoulders and if this is what what works for the 2 of you, while not necessarily ideal for the reasons you stated (homework time, time out of her day) you should not have mamma guilt or second guess yourself.
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#9 of 39 Old 06-23-2013, 06:10 PM
 
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If your child is mature enough to do it? I'd have no problem with it. There are "questionable" people and pedophiles everywhere (even driving school buses and teaching). 

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#10 of 39 Old 06-23-2013, 10:27 PM
 
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BTDT

 

My DD started to take a public bus to school when she was 11. First day, DH took her on it.  Second day, DH told her to walk ahead and he remained about 10 feet behind, so she could "solo" under observation.  They did that a couple more times and then we asked if she was comfortable going by herself, and she said she was.

 

Later, when I was hearing tales from my friends whose kids were taking the school bus to school, I was glad she was on a public bus w/ a lot of adults heading to work, rather than on the school bus where there was a lot of loud voices, teasing, and generally annoying pre-teen and teenage behavior.

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#11 of 39 Old 06-24-2013, 03:23 AM
 
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BTDT

 

My DD started to take a public bus to school when she was 11. First day, DH took her on it.  Second day, DH told her to walk ahead and he remained about 10 feet behind, so she could "solo" under observation.  They did that a couple more times and then we asked if she was comfortable going by herself, and she said she was.

 

Later, when I was hearing tales from my friends whose kids were taking the school bus to school, I was glad she was on a public bus w/ a lot of adults heading to work, rather than on the school bus where there was a lot of loud voices, teasing, and generally annoying pre-teen and teenage behavior.

Exactly!  Some really crazy, and sometimes scary, stuff can happen on a schoolbus. 

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#12 of 39 Old 06-24-2013, 03:39 AM
 
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Exactly!  Some really crazy, and sometimes scary, stuff can happen on a schoolbus. 

 

Yep! My daughter always came home w/interesting stories. 

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#13 of 39 Old 06-24-2013, 03:50 AM
 
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their main concern is questionable people. abduction. pedofile.

 

dd rides the scooter on a busy road all with sidewalks. yes there are questionable people on the bus. but she gets on in a busy area and gets off on a busy area too.

 

I hoping we can figure out a car pool in the future once school starts.

 

I personally don't want to do public transport for the amount of time she will be on the bus - time she could spend on homework unless there are a few kids taking the bus together.

 

the other concern is what if she falls asleep while going to school and misses her stop. perhaps she can set an alarm on her phone.

 

and in our city unless you are a child with special needs, no one else has access to a school bus anymore.


Questionable people are everywhere, the advantage of public transit is that the questionable people are surrounded by normal people, and there are even a few people who are willing to stick their necks out to help people on there.  And the more comfortable she becomes with different forms of transportation, the better equipped she'll be to remove herself from uncomfortable or dangerous situations in the future.

 

In my experience, most people don't fall very deeply asleep on the bus, so unless she's one of the very small minority that sleeps soundly on the bus, she's unlikely to miss her stop...or if she does, she'll notice right away and get off at the next stop.

 

How much more time would she have for homework if she got a drive to school?  Would it even be enough to make a difference?  It's possible that getting herself to school might have a real benefit in and of itself:  http://www.theatlanticcities.com/commute/2013/02/kids-who-walk-or-bike-school-concentrate-better-study-shows/4585/ 

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#14 of 39 Old 06-24-2013, 04:59 AM
 
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where i am in Europe you simply don't have school buses,

Kindergarten and grade school are walking distance most times (with many small schools to cover most neighborhood)

& by the end of 5th grade most kids walk to and from school by themselves

 

then middle schools are not so numerous and much larger in size so by the time they turn 11 and a half, everybody hops on a town bus

(or sometimes school buses for those coming from far away catchment areas/ who want to study a special subject in a specific school)

 

quite a few parents still come to the school gate in grade school (but less than 50%)

but by the time the kids turn 11 ... very few parents escort their children to school

(sometimes they do special pick up for dropping at music class or a medical appointment... but it's not the everyday norm ...)

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#15 of 39 Old 06-24-2013, 05:12 AM
 
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The way I look at it, if an 11 year old can't ride a bus by themselves, how can only 4 years later that same person be in charge of a vehicle driving down the highway at 60+mph? 

 

You know your kid and the enviornment. What people do in other places, countries... I would take lightly, because it won't all apply. Where I am, absolutely. My 8yo can walk or bike home from school by himself. My dd just started private way south on the other side of town. She is only 6, so we drive her. I don't plan on doing this for years. By the time she is 9 or 10, she ought to be taking the bus by herself. 

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#16 of 39 Old 06-24-2013, 06:09 AM - Thread Starter
 
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wow. there are so many perspectives I hadn't thought of here. things like the other people travelling on the bus, the article on morning exercise, deep sleep and 5 years later.

 

as I read your replies I am reminded of how much dd really wants to do this. we have had different opportunities in the last year or so in various different fields to challenge dd's fears mostly due to her anxiety so her  trepidations no longer hold her back.  

 

also yes on the effects of early morning exercise. dd all her life has done better if she gets an active start to the day. I had forgotten how much it helps her concentrate.

 

I think dd is getting to the point where she doesn't want me to drop her to her school gate.

 

time is a BIG factor. I am not sure if it is positive or negative though because having the time to just relax on the bus I find huge. the scooter/bus or bus/bus will take dd at least 1 1/2 each way as opposed to driving 20 - 30 mins. being a night owl she will have to get a really early start to the day. why oh why does school start soooo early. 7:20 am. yikes. and then the following year if she wants to take intermediate band which I am guessing she will - she has to be there by 6:40 am which is zero period. an extra class.

 

the more I think of this - with all your different perspectives - it sounds like a real positive idea. dd's self confidence will shoot through the ceiling. not just that she can do it, but that SHE will have an experience all by herself that is not shared. I notice dd enjoys this more and more these days.

 

wow there are layers to this I hadn't even thought about. dd already does a few things that most kids in her class are not allowed to do. she really really enjoys and values those experiences which really gives her a different perspective in life. main lesson - mostly things are not such a big deal as others make it out to be. a valuable lesson I can see.

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#17 of 39 Old 06-24-2013, 07:59 AM
 
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I would in a heartbeat. DD1 is 10.5 this summer and this summer I declared that I am no longer responsible for transporting her to and from gymnastics practice. She trains 5 days a week and pick up is smack in the middle of the baby's nap time. She bikes 1.5 miles back and forth every day. School year is different because she trains until dark so we have to get her, but summer time? A whole other story! She has been doing it for three weeks now. She is responsible for packing up her gear, knowing when to leave, calling before she leaves to come home or calling when she gets there. She loves it. Sometimes she complains about the long hill to come home but she also likes having the independence and my trust. We have a free trolley that goes around our town and as soon as we have a free morning, I am going to teach her to get around town on it as well. 

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#18 of 39 Old 06-24-2013, 09:11 AM
 
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DS was about 12 y.o. when he started taking public buses to school.  He made one transfer en route. It was fine. There were a lot of other students riding with him. He could have taken the school bus but he preferred the public system, partly because it was faster. The school bus took a long milk run around several neighbourhoods and we were the first stop in the morning and the last stop on the route. It made a long day. 

 

DD was 11 y.o when she took a combination of public bus/commuter train. Again, she was fine. At that time we were living in a large non-North American city without a school bus system. I found it remarkable how young children were riding the public transportation system independently. They were probably 9 or 10, but some of them looked even younger, perhaps 8 or so. No one blinked an eye at it. On days that Dd didn't take the bus, it was an hour-long walk past some very dense bush. Honestly, that concerned me more than the bus or train. 

 

We did all the typical preparation like practice runs, reviewing what to do in various circumstances, how to handle emergencies, routinely checking in, encouraging them to ride with friends.......  

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#19 of 39 Old 06-25-2013, 06:24 AM
 
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In our city school there aren't commonly school buses for kids starting in 6th so all kids take public transit (paid for by the city schools), walk or are driven to school. My DC is also starting 6th and I expect a large portion of her peers will take the bus. I'm not ready for that, however, and will take her. But, for us, that has a large bit to do with DC, her size (she's the size of a 7 year old), and the fact that her father and I don't ride the bus so she has no exposure to using public transit. It is, however, a goal of ours to get her comfortable with using it by highschool.  


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#20 of 39 Old 06-25-2013, 11:40 AM
 
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I used public buses to get to/from middle school all three years.  Heck, I used the city bus to get to/from gymnastics class at 10 years old/4th grade.  And I transferred buses at the busy city transportation hub.  Statistically the world is safer now than it was then.  If we had the option, my kids would ride them now.  Unfortunately there is precious little public transit in our city so it's not.
 

Given the stories I've heard about kid's behavior on school buses, I think a child would be safer with adults, even a few "questionable" ones.  No one is going to be able to force her off the bus as long as she has the basics of raising a fuss if someone tries.  During the day in busy parts of town she's never going to be alone and unobserved.  Of course she needs a few basics like sitting near the driver and in an open seat that faces the aisle if that's possible so she can't get trapped between someone and a window.  But it sounds like she is mature enough to handle this just fine.

 

People have really different ideas about kid's safety.  As a parent, you need to go with your own gut, not what someone else makes you feel.  And its hard when you are going against the grain -- as many of us know!  My DD walks 4 blocks home from elementary school (she's 10) and her girl scout leader is giving me h### about it.  I am certain she is safe and both of us are comfortable with the arrangement.  After explaining it once I have resorted to "Thanks for your concern" and moving on.  If she needs to drive her children less than 1/2 a block to school then so be it.  OK, I think she's a little crazy, but that's her right.

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#21 of 39 Old 06-25-2013, 01:40 PM
 
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I'm glad you're getting encouragement to let your DD ride the bus!

 

My DD is only 4.5, so she doesn't use any form of transportation by herself yet. But our family are heavy users of both bus & bicycle, and it's our goal to have DD confident in using public transportation and her own bike so that she can be very independent by the time she's a teenager, if not sooner.

 

I do sometimes encounter weird attitudes about public transportation. Once a co-worker was complaining about how she was having a hard time getting to the airport, and I suggested that she take the bus. She said "I don't think so" with a look on her face as if I had just suggested she ride a turd to the airport. Our bus system is really quite good, and I was kind of shocked that she had such a negative reaction.

 

So, it's perhaps good to know how people feel about public transportation in general before putting too much stock in their opinions about your daughter's use of it. I find that the people with the most negative attitude about the bus are often the ones who've never used it.

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#22 of 39 Old 06-25-2013, 02:32 PM
 
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People have really different ideas about kid's safety.  As a parent, you need to go with your own gut, not what someone else makes you feel.  And its hard when you are going against the grain -- as many of us know!  My DD walks 4 blocks home from elementary school (she's 10) and her girl scout leader is giving me h### about it.  I am certain she is safe and both of us are comfortable with the arrangement.  After explaining it once I have resorted to "Thanks for your concern" and moving on.  If she needs to drive her children less than 1/2 a block to school then so be it.  OK, I think she's a little crazy, but that's her right.

 

Wow.  That's all I can say about your girl scout leader.

 

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So, it's perhaps good to know how people feel about public transportation in general before putting too much stock in their opinions about your daughter's use of it. I find that the people with the most negative attitude about the bus are often the ones who've never used it.

I've noticed this too!  I've heard some really weird reasonings for being afraid of riding public transit.  We really need a widespread education campaign about the realities of public transit.

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#23 of 39 Old 06-25-2013, 02:47 PM
 
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I do sometimes encounter weird attitudes about public transportation. Once a co-worker was complaining about how she was having a hard time getting to the airport, and I suggested that she take the bus. She said "I don't think so" with a look on her face as if I had just suggested she ride a turd to the airport. Our bus system is really quite good, and I was kind of shocked that she had such a negative reaction.

 

 

 

 

Maybe your co-worker needs a pair of "bus pants" (tell her to watch Sheldon on the t.v. show The Big Bang Theory). lol.gif

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#24 of 39 Old 06-25-2013, 03:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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for one of my friends - she has just started taking public transportation after she lost her car in an accident.

 

the others indeed don't take public transportation. and yes I have noticed the ones who don't take public transportation are so much against it.

 

the one thing they all have in common is - generally a fearful personality. its the news that scares them. they are even scared how dd is around their dogs after the news story where their own pet killed a 6 year old. we were returning from a picnic and dd went ahead. my friend panicked the whole way that her dogs might harm dd - when dd has grown up with the dogs. so I think - and friend has admitted that - in fact all my friends who are questioning my decision - have all confessed to being worry warts. and if there's recent incidents in the newspaper then they worry even more.

 

with all the different perspectives I've spoken to my friends and even though they accept the logic, they still say they are scared and would rather my dd not take public transportation.

 

in fact this thread has made me feel even more confident about sending dd on the public bus.


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#25 of 39 Old 06-25-2013, 04:23 PM
 
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If kids are taking the bus at the same time then I don't think it is a big deal. High school students tend to take the city bus in our town and it is a safe time to ride, I would assume it will be the same in a city without school buses after elementary school. It is a great place to get homework done or socialize.
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#26 of 39 Old 06-25-2013, 06:00 PM
 
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I'm generally pretty free range, but I had a bad experience on the bus when I was 14 (sexual harassment kind of thing) so I wouldn't personally have one of my kids ride the bus. Although of course these days kids have cell phones so they aren't kind of trapped there like I felt. I don't know. I don't think I can think about it objectively.
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#27 of 39 Old 06-25-2013, 06:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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oh mamazee I am so sorry.

 

I probably would have been like you too if I didn't have an extremely independent child who refuses to allow my fears to stop her. I have had similar experiences like you when I was much younger but dd has logically counteracted every point I've made or conjured up which shows me she is ready for that experience. she used to be a quiet one but now she wont stand for it. plus I was never so forthright at her age as dd is. so for myself (not pointing my finger at anyone) I have to recognize that we were very different people at a certain age and I cant guess dd's reaction based on mine. there is no way dd would have allowed what I did and neither would she buy the story that I bought. however neither was I as close to my mom as dd and I are.  

 

I also have to trust her call on this too. whenever she is SURE I have found my fears have been unjustified. she has been fine and what I expected did not happen. yet there are times when there is no question in my mind she cant do it, and I let her know the decision is not up for debate.

 

though as dd grows older and becomes her own person, I cant guess her reactions as well I could before.


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#28 of 39 Old 06-26-2013, 04:39 AM
 
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Originally Posted by mamazee View Post

I'm generally pretty free range, but I had a bad experience on the bus when I was 14 (sexual harassment kind of thing) so I wouldn't personally have one of my kids ride the bus. Although of course these days kids have cell phones so they aren't kind of trapped there like I felt. I don't know. I don't think I can think about it objectively.

 

I am sorry that happened to you. 

 

I've been sexually harassed a couple of times and physically assaulted once on public transportation. It is terrible that we live with that sort of threat. In my case, I was able to use the emergency alarm to alert the train conductor. Those experiences have made me very aware of where I sit and who is around me when I'm on a bus or subway. That was definitely part of the preparations and discussions with my kids when they started taking the bus on their own. 

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#29 of 39 Old 06-27-2013, 10:56 AM
 
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coming late to the party -- My experience is that some parents are super over protective and freak out about tweens and teens doing anything. When my kids were in 7th and 8th grade, they attended a school that was right around the corner from where we lived, but on a MAJOR street with a lot of traffic. Other parents expressed concern and shock that I let my children walk there without me. They didn't even have to cross the street, and the didn't half to walk very far on it. Seriously. We lived so close to the school that is seemed silly to even ride a bike, and yet people were surprised that I let them walk *alone* (they were with each other).

 

As far as public transportation, my experience is that the area  you are taking it through and the time of day you are going has a big impact on who else is on there with you. Our society as a whole is much more tuned into sexual harassment than they used to be.

 

Our bus system has been designated a "safe space" and teens are encouraged to tell bus drivers if they need a safe space to stay or any help, as we have many teens runaways and teens who do not feel safe returning home.

 

When teaching my teens daughters to ride the bus, I encouraged them to sit closer to the front if possible, or near people who felt safer to them.
 

You might check with your bus system and see if they have special info for children and teens who ride without a parent.

 

As far as a way to get back and forth to school, I find it nice to have a couple of options, a back up plan.


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#30 of 39 Old 06-27-2013, 12:21 PM
 
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Meemee, I remember you from way back and some of the things you were nervous about when your daughter was smaller, and I think it's great that you are willing to consider this independence for her!  You've gotten some great encouragement here.

 

I get to work every day on a city bus that passes a grade 6-12 public magnet school, so (when I go early!) I see kids as young as 11 riding the bus without parents.  They always seem to do fine, and I have never ever seen anyone harass them in any way.

 

My son is 8 now, and by 11 (maybe sooner) I can imagine him riding alone on public transit on a familiar route.  Some kids are less responsible or less aware and might not be safe, but I bet mine will, and it sounds like yours will too.

 

The only thing that concerns me is you mentioned the possibility of falling asleep on the bus.  Setting an alarm just in case is a way of preventing that from being a schedule problem--but I would be concerned about her being off her guard while asleep.  It's unlikely someone would harm her physically, but they could steal from her.  I'd discourage her from seeing sleeping as an okay thing to do.  Maybe even have a cup of tea with breakfast to prevent drowsiness.


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