Should Children Walk To/From School

A question for all you Dads and Moms out there. How far did your kids walk to and from school, or how far do they walk now? Do you let your kids walk home? Do you drive them to school?

I live in a suburb of Vancouver, Canada and I was talking to a workmate of mine who has an 11-year old daughter. He lives directly across the street from his daughter’s school and was rushing home the other day because he was late to pick her up. He or his wife picks up the daughter every day and escorts her home.

I don’t have any kids, so it started me wondering how protective I would be. In the Vancouver Metro area, I can think of 2-3 stranger abductions of children that have happened over the last 20 years. They happen so rarely around here.

What are your thoughts on the safety of children walking to and from school, and whether it is reckless to let them walk home.


Depends on the age really, but an 11 year old should be able to walk to and from school I should think. I live in Manhattan and I see kids that age going to and from school unescorted.

We’re seven miles away from the elementary school (stupid districting) so no, my kids will not be walking to school. If we were within half a mile or so, I’d say definitely, apart from inclement weather, and assuming that the area was reasonably pedestrian-friendly. Up to a mile, maybe. Depends on trustworthiness of child and other factors. Over a mile, probably not, although if they really wanted to, I’d probably let them.

I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about stranger abductions. Whatsit Jr., who is in 2nd grade, walks home every day from the bus stop unattended and I don’t worry about him at all.

My kids walk home from school from when they are around 9-10. Have to cross a number of smaller roads and one big.

It is 2.5 miles from our house to the elementary school - a bit far for an elementary school kid, and there are a couple of busy lights to cross. It it was residential, I would have no problem with it.

My kids take the bus.

I walked/biked a mile home every day from grades 3-8. In an analogous suburb, I’d have no problem with my kids doing the same. Actually, I’d prefer it.

My daughter walks about a mile. She’s 12. She has a city bus pass, so if it’s too cold or she’s tired, she can get on the bus. She hasn’t done that yet.

I drive her to school in the morning, because it’s some good father-daughter time, and I’m on my way to work anyway. She makes her own way home after school.

If we lived in the inner-city it might be a different matter. But we live in a nice safe suburb, and kids need to learn responsibility.

Fewer and fewer parents let their parents do this, but there is no rational reason why it is less common now, considering crime is lower now than it was 20 or 30 years ago.

My son bikes to school. Some of the other parents think I’m nuts, but it’s statistically much safer for him to bike than ride in a car.

I see a fair number of kids biking to school in our neighborhood.

My son is 14. The high school is about 1.75 miles from the house. Unless the weather is crappy, he walks…and I walk with him. His choice, not mine. It’s my morning exercise. He likes the company and I like the one-on-one time. I’m all too aware of the fact that any day he could decide it is VERY uncool to be walking with his mom to school. When that day comes, I’ll have no problem with him walking by himself.

I walked about a mile to school starting when I was in kindergarten. There were buses for kids who lived a little farther out. This was in the Mid 70s.

I would like to see some back up for this. Because the info I have is that biking is much more dangerous than riding in a car

My older one walks to school sometimes, since she was 11. It’s almost 2 miles. The 9 yr old is allowed to walk with her, but not walk on her own. Mostly because I think she would get distracted on the way, and end up arriving late. If we lived closer, I would have let them walk from a younger age.

Of course they should walk… and stay off my grass. :slight_smile:

Escorted home from across the road at 11?! Where does this workmate live, Mogadishu?
I’m sure there are more and less safe parts of Vancouver (I seem to recall being warned off parts of Hastings St. East? West? Too long ago).

My lad of 8 walks to and from school (about 400m) as part of a “Walking Schoolbus” aka “gaggle of kids and a couple of harried mums” but we’re expecting that in the new year he’ll be allowed to walk unaccompanied if he wants.

At 8 I was walking or biking 1km to and from school.

No, they shouldn’t walk to school.

They should DANCE!

We walked about a half a mile from kindergarten on. But, seeing that it was the Bronx in the 1970s, it was fine. :wink: We also went back and forth to lunch every day from third grade on. No school buses unless you were more than 2 1/2 miles away. There were so many budget cuts they turned off the heat at noon on Fridays.

Seriously, Dads were at work (with the one family car usually), Mom was at home with the newest baby/toddler, there was a crossing guard at the one major street kids had to cross, and everybody thought it was perfectly normal. For urban kids, unless you’re in gangsta territory, there’s no reason not to walk to school. Good for exercise and socializing.

Of course, the specter of Etan Patz kind of hovered over us, and I remember once the principal coming around to each classroom to tell us matter-of-factly that there was a man in a purple car “kidnapping and killing little girls” and for us all to be careful. As I trudged home for lunch, my 8-year-old eyes saw purple cars EVERYWHERE. But, like I said, who and when could take us to school? Suck it up and get some street smarts, kid.

Even now, at the same school, you’ll see maybe about twelve Moms waiting outside afterwards. The kids come out, grab some pizza, bother the candy store guy, and get their asses home on their own time with their friends. However, they now have little school buses for the littlest kids. Spoiled rotten they are!

Here’s what I found:

I am an avid cyclist, but I am not sure this stat shows that biking to school is safer than driving. It says that biking is safer for a given duration. However if a car travels twice as fast (on average) as the bike, then a car is safer for a given distance. Since the school is a fixed distance from home, the car is going to be safer per trip. At least regarding fatalities. It would be interesting to include accidents as well as fatalities.

I also assume this data is based on a cross-section of cyclists. In this particular debate it would be most useful to compare accident rates of children cyclists with adult (or parent) motorists.

I walked to school when I was a kid. Nothing bad happened. I broke through the ice of the 4" creek once…

The big missing factor here, also, is that kids are more likely to be riding on the footpath, which is presumably safer for them (local law is that you can legally do this up to 12 years old - don’t know how that stacks up with other jurisdictions but I’ll assume most places they wouldn’t make a 6 yearold, say, ride on the roads.

I use to walk or ride my bike 4/10 of a mile to school when I was in kindergarten. Yes, that was a long time ago.

I never really walked to or from school until seventh grade. But I’m not sure that wasn’t just because of the location.

I wonder how much the issue in the situation the OP gave is not that the child walks across the street (which they should have been doing since 8 at least), but that the child will be home alone.

Then again, I also know of schools that will not let the kids go home without a guardian present.