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Walking to School Safety

Read This Before Your Kids Ever Walk to School Alone

Letting your child walk to school alone is a major step, no doubt. Many of you have said that you're comfortable with the idea, but before they hit the road on foot, it's important to take several precautions. Below, check out tips that have "safety first" written all over them.

  • Determine the best route: Chances are there's more than one way to get to school. Shortest doesn't always mean safest, so take the time to pick the best route yourself. Consider streets with more sidewalk space, more stop signs, and less car traffic. Walk the path with your child at least a couple of times so that you're both familiar with it before he or she goes at it alone.
  • Map out safe spots along the way: Whether it's a friend's house, a church, or a store with a phone, make sure your kid knows all the safe places in case of emergency. And if you know anyone who lives en route, let them know your child walks to school every day so that they can keep an eye out.
  • Go over safety rules: You've told them before but repeat it again (and again). Don't ever accept a ride from strangers, stay on the sidewalk, and look both ways before crossing. You always want your kids to keep these precautions in mind, but especially so when they are on the streets.

Check out more safety tips after the break.

  • Establish a buddy system if possible: If you've got two kids who go to the same school, they'll probably walk together. But if not, find out if any other children in your neighborhood also walk there, even if they're a little bit older. Talk to their parents so that your kids can can meet in the mornings and become walking buddies.
  • Set up a time limit: Communicate how long you expect it to take to get to and from school. For example, let someone at school know that your child walks there and that if he or she hasn't arrived by a certain time, to call and let you know. At the end of the day, ask your kid to call or text you by the time they should be home.
  • Have a backup plan ready: Say your child walks to school in the morning but then weather conditions make it impossible for him or her to get back home on foot. If you're unable to make the drive, have a trustworthy family member or parent on call to pick them up instead.
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StephFilby StephFilby 2 years
I think it depends on how far away from school you live. Our local school is literally at the end of my street, I can see the school gates from my house, the kids, once they reach year 4 (age about 8) are quite safe walking alone, and it is encouraged. They are never really walking alone anyway as the streets are full of their friends walking also, and due to the road layout (a single road with traffic calming and lots of traffic) its not really a prime location for abduction! My older daughter, who is 11, gets the bus to school. Her bus stop is about 5 minutes from the house and she walks there and then the other end is about a 10/15 minute walk along one road to school. Again lots of kids and quite safe. They all know their stranger danger, they know if a car approaches to keep walking and ignore anyone in it. I think its a sad state that anyone lives in a society where you don't feel safe letting kids of an appropriate age walk to school. Kids need their freedom and a short walk to school without their parent is one of the first tastes of independence most kids will get.
LucyMauterer LucyMauterer 2 years
In the US, in most cities, it is so not safe to let your child walk to school alone. Or even with a buddy. My children grew up in Atlanta, GA when there was a child killer loose and I could not let them go anywhere without me tagging along. Even after Wayne Williams was apprehended and put in prison, there was a question of whether he had committed all those murders. There are creeps everywhere. I have seen them at the playground, where I knew they were not with any of the children. Please do not listen to the advice in the story above. You'll be hating yourself if it becomes your child who goes missing. I am raising my 10 year old granddaughter and take her to school and pick her up even though we only live 4 blocks from the school. It is awful to live this way but the alternative, losing your child to a predator would be far worse. And they call them predators because that is exactly what they are. They wait and watch, have all kinds of tricks, and can grab a child in seconds and speed off in a vehicle. I am not some kind of nervous nellie who sees the bogey man behind every tree but I take my childrearing responsibilities very seriously. Not going to happen on my watch.
YvetteWright1376380895 YvetteWright1376380895 2 years
Our children love riding to school. We followed the guidelines you have suggested here plus some empowerment rules - 1) You don't have to say yes to an adult if you feel unsure. 2) Recognise your warning signs (feeling uneasy, funny in the tummy etc). 3) Never approach a car if they ask for help. Talk to them from the bike on the path. 4) Scream and run if you feel in danger, no matter what. Better to look silly than have something bad happen. We even practiced screaming from the bottom of their belly. They loved it. 5) Report what happened straight away. Better to raise children to be aware and confident than fear the very unlikely. Most abuse happens in homes, families and close neighbours. Isn't that sad. Walking or riding independently to school is exhilarating for our children. It's a sign we trust and have confidence in them. We live in suburban Australia. These safety rules are now reinforced in our school curriculum and much work is being done to have children walking and riding to school again.
TianaAina TianaAina 2 years
Ann14855800 Ann14855800 2 years
I so agree with Lotta, thankful my 9 years old is able to walk safely to school every day just as many other Norwegian children do. It must be awful to live in a society where you cannot trust your children to be safe unless you are constantly watching them
KrissiSamaha KrissiSamaha 2 years
I agree with Erika... Unless you have absolutely no choice, your child should not walk alone. These monsters are opportunists and look for children walking alone before or after school.
LottaS77612 LottaS77612 2 years
I'm so glad this is still safe and normal practice in my country (Finland). Kids get lazy when they get driven everywhere by car.
ErikaTijerina ErikaTijerina 2 years
I would highly recommend avoiding walking home if possible. Most crimes are crime of opportunity. Jaycee Dugard, Somer Thompson, and many more. Parents may not have a choice, and that is understandable. Kids are just too vulnerable and these monsters know what they are doing. You can't protect your children from every situation, but you can make it as difficult as possible for predators to target them.
JuliaGaede JuliaGaede 2 years
We had a family code word, so if someone unexpected came to pick me up, I would know my parents had sent them if they said the code word. I like that the article says not to accept rides from strangers but doesn't mention not talking to strangers. In most cases strangers could be of help in an emergency.
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