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?

Online Cyberbullying Advice for Parents -How to Keep Your Children Safe Online.

The above is an excellent article by my colleagues in Urmston, Manchester about cyber bullying with some very helpful advice for parents on how to advise children on the dangers of being online. Thank you for some great tips.  Make sure you read the full article by clicking on the “read more” link in blue above.

Teaching Safety to Children – How to Keep Children Safe by Child Safety Advocate, Melinda Tripp

We are very pleased that Melinda Tripp, author of “What Should you Do? Helping Children Protect Themselves in the Twenty-First Century” has agreed to be our guest blogger this week.

Melinda is an American teacher, writer, mentor and child safety advocate.  She has taught children, aged from 2 to 13 since 1979 and taught parents, teachers, and students through Abduction Prevention Education and Safety assemblies since 1994.  Over 100,000 children have been touched by her message of safety and empowerment.

Her book has been very well received in America and has 5 stars and great reviews on Amazon.Com.  The book is now available to purchase at Amazon.co.uk.

Teaching Safety

We begin teaching children, quite early, how to stay safe.  We tell children, “The fire is hot, keep back, you could get burned.”  We teach them to use a railing when walking down steps, so they don’t fall.  Later it is necessary to begin teaching a more general safety plan, with tailored life lessons in safety.  This will give them an umbrella plan that they will use to help them through the situations that will confront them during their lives.

The lessons taught will be repeated, honed, added to, and practiced for ages 5-13. For parents and teachers situational safety will continue to be a necessary part of teaching as their children and students grow.  They can teach children the skills they need to take on the bad behaviours of others (from young bullying on the playground through the underworld of human trafficking) and situations that are potentially threatening, allowing them to use their plan to act quickly and safely.  If a child is constantly aware of their surroundings, they will be on the lookout for situations that can be avoided.

A child who is in a safe place with their trusted adults is on what I call green light, and can relax and safely “tune out” the world around them.  All people, of any age, who are out and about in the world need to be aware of the world around them, people and the behaviours around them.  This is what we call yellow light, a time to be on alert, and prepared to act.  What then does Red light look like? This is when someone is actively getting to a safe place.  They have acted quickly and used  their observation skills, so they can tell a trusted adult; are able to describe, people, areas, situations and objects readily, so that the trusted adult.

Buy some peace of mind today, we can’t control everything, but we can be in charge of teaching our children to become safer people with, What Should You Do? Helping Children Protect Themselves in the Twenty-First Century , Tate Publishing 2010.  You can be empowering your child with simple, and easy to use strategies tomorrow.

Turn a child’s “fight time into flight time,” making your child just too much trouble to take.

Links for Melinda Tripp

http://melindatripp.tateauthor.com

http://melindatripp.wordpress.com/

abductionpreventioneducation@yahoo.com

https://www.facebook.com/whatshouldyoudo

http://www.tatepublishing.com/bookstore/book.php?w=978-1-61663-140-6

The Book can be purchased from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk and is available to download for Kindles.

What Age Should Children be Allowed to Walk To and From School?

Today’s guest blogger is Kirsty McHugh, PA to Margaret Carmichael.

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?

Hunting the Internet Bullies – Should stricter laws be enforced for Cyber Bullying??

I have just watched BBC Panorama’s Hunting the Internet Bullies and, although I was aware cyber bullying existed, I was shocked at the extent some sick individuals (grown men) who call themselves “trolls” go to cause hurt and pain to individuals just to get a reaction, especially in young people.

You can watch the episode in full on BBCiplayer at http://www.bbc.co.uk/i/b01c00y3/

I was appalled at the story of a young girl called Natasha McBride who was relentlessly bullied on a social networking site called Formspring and was in such despair she threw herself under a train.  Hours after a Tribute Page was set up on Facebook, her family were sickened by “RIP trolls” who posted obscene comments about their daughter on the page.  This is not an isolated incident.  These people do this for fun just to get a reaction and take pleasure in causing grief.

The other girl highlighted in the report was just 11 years old.  Watching the videos of 11 year old was just heartbreaking.

Another victim of cyber bullying is Cher Lloyd who was 4th in the X Factor.  You can watch what she has to say about how this has affected her below:

The panorama team managed to track down some of these trolls who showed a total lack of conscience or responsibility for their action.  One offender was prosecuted and served 9 weeks in jail.  Another referred to this and laughed stating this was nothing.

Surely harsher laws must be introduced to stop the cyber bullying that is going on.  I hope politicians have been watching and take notice soon.

I also hope parents take note and ensure they are aware of the dangers that their children may be in.  Please take the time to read Facebook Privacy rules under “help” on Facebook and make sure your childrens’ settings are set appropriately.  There is some excellent advice for both parents and children on internet safety at http://www.childline.org.uk/Explore/Bullying/Pages/CyberBullying.aspx.

Facebook – What age would you Let your Child Set up an Account?

My Personal Assistant, Kirsty, has an eight year old daughter who recently asked if she could set up a Facebook account because “loads of my friends are on it”.  Having looked into this, she was astounded to find 6 children (friends and family) under the age of 11 who were regularly using Facebook, including the daughter of one of her closest friends.  Her friend in fact doesn’t use Facebook and has no idea what her daughter may be doing online.

Facebook’s official policy is that children under the age of 13 cannot become a member although it is very easy to add a false date of birth – no checks are made.  Interestingly, we have just come across this link from the BBC discussing the same question http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-13129150

We wanted to ask parents the question “What age would you let your child have a Facebook account”?  To this end, we would be interested in finding out your opinion by taking part in our poll below:

If you have any concerns about your child’s safety online or need to refresh your own knowledge in order to keep up, the link below is an excellent source of information.