What Age Should Children be Allowed to Walk to School Alone? An update

Guest Blogger is Kirsty McHugh, mum to a P7 girl in East Renfrewshire, Glasgow.

I first blogged about this subject in March 2012 when my daughter was in Primary 5 and it received a fantastic response.  I even appeared on a national radio station to talk about my concerns.  The original blog is: https://kipmcgrathtutorsscotland.wordpress.com/2012/03/21/what-age-should-children-be-allowed-to-walk-to-and-from-school/ I have copied the content below also.

My daughter is now in Primary 7 and I wanted to give an update on where we are now.  I always said that in Primary seven I would give my daughter more freedom and she is now walking home from school 3 days per week, sometimes on her own but mostly with a friend who lives nearby.  She is very proud and loves it.  I must admit, I am still at the window watching for the moment she turns the corner into our road but she doesn’t know that.  We did a few walks together and crossed the road at the ‘right places’ to practice beforehand.  I did have to pick her up unexpectedly one day and imagine my surprise when I saw her walking with a big group of her pals right past the zebra crossing and she decided to cross at the busiest corner.  Arrgh!!

On Friday she was walking home with her pal and they were supposed to be coming here for a play date.  Twenty minutes after they were due they had not arrived and I went across the street to see if they had gone to the other girl’s house.  The panic in the other mum’s eyes told me they were not there and we frantically got in the car to find them.  We found them near the school laughing and giggling and oblivious to our panic.  They had apparently found a school bag in the street and gone back to school to hand it in doing a good deed.  They did not understand why we were so upset.

So now for the next dilemma!  My daughter said “If you would let me take a phone to school you could have phoned me”.  I totally agree she should have a cheap phone for emergencies.  Her dad however has always said she can’t get a phone until she goes to High School.  Hmmm.  Think he has to relent on that one!

It’s time to let her grow up and have some independence I think but one baby step at a time!

Original Blog From March 201o

I am mum to a nine year old daughter in P5 in East Renfrewshire and she is an only child. We live in a good area and about a mile away from her school  with two roads to cross (one on a quiet street) and one on a main road with a zebra crossing (although no lights or lollypop person).

My daughter has noticed that her friends are walking to and from school (although in groups) and she is at an age where she also wants more independence and to do the same.  She has no friends who live nearby so wants to walk home herself and is forever berating me that I am treating her like a 5 year old!

I am all for encouraging my daughter to become more independent but I just can’t seem to let her do this.  I tried this week to drive her across the road so that she had no roads to cross but then she had a 10 minute walk home and I couldn’t help myself but park up ahead and watch her in the mirror.  She says this is cheating and that I should just go home and let her make her own way home.

I know some in her class (especially the boys) walk home alone but I just can’t let her do this.  I don’t know whether this is because as a mum I am not ready to let go or whether I feel she is not quite ready.

As a child, I remember walking a mile to and from school myself everyday from Primary 3 but I had no roads to cross.  Apart from being beaten up in P5 by a girl who went to a different denominational school, I can’t remember any bad incidents.  When I was 13, a man tried to get me into his car on the way home from school and I ran all the way home.  At the same age, my younger brother’s best friend (7) was knocked down and killed getting of the school bus to enter our Estate.  Am I being too over protective?

My daughter was only one when the Soham Murderer kidnapped and killed Jessica and Holly but I was deeply affected by this and even although I know the odds of this happening are rare, all I want to do is protect my daughter and ensure that she is safe.  I have school friend mums who share my concerns but others who feel that our kids will be suffocated if we don’t give them some independence.

I have decided to stick to my guns for the time being and we will walk home together.  I will even let her walk ahead of me if she wishes but until Primary 7, I will not let her walk home along.

Am I wrong?  I can bear being the bad mummy who treats her like a 5 year old but should she be allowed more freedom at age 9?  I know I could have done it at age 9 but she seems so immature compared to me at that age.

I would welcome feedback from other parents.  What should I do?


One comment on “What Age Should Children be Allowed to Walk to School Alone? An update

  1. Go with your gut instincts as a mom! If the route has no where, and no one safe to run to in a scary situation, then the child has been put in a panic situation.,,most people in our world are good, but realistically, if there are none around, is she able to use just her wits to save herself? She could get away from an attacker, but then what?
    If the route, home to school and back, is not Inhabited, or scarcely so….you feel she could not use her personal safety plan.
    Saying No to a bad situation, Run and Tell. Walking in groups makes sense, for lack of a group, Mom, you are doing the right thing for her.
    P.S.,tell your husband she needs an emergency phone, and a whistle.

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