This question has been raised numerous times throughout parenting, and honestly there is a correct answer. Or at least a law abiding one, according to Family and Children Services Canada there are steps parents should follow before allowing their child to walk anywhere alone. Not so fortunate for one Florida mother who was recently arrested for allowing her seven year old with a cell phone walk to a park a half mile from their home, so he could play.
The recommended age for allowing your child to walk somewhere alone at the earliest is age nine. I myself when faced with allowing our son to walk to school by himself, didn’t really feel comfortable until he was in grade five (age 12) and even then I worried. Not because I didn’t trust my son, but there are factors involved that create doubt in parents, which doesn’t make them secure in allowing freedom and independence at such a young age.
Walking somewhere alone isn’t just about crossing roads. Kids may know and understand safety rules when crossing the street, but drivers are not always aware of people, let alone little people. I can’t tell you how many times we have heard about a child below the age of ten being hit by a vehicle while crossing the street in a crosswalk on their way to school. It’s insane!
Aside from street rules and obeying road safety — what about strangers? What age are kids aware and easily ready to take on what can be thrown at them when they are on their own?
Children ages 4 – 6 can begin to learn the road rules. They can hold your hand and cross the street, but can easily become distracted so they should always be supervised by a parent.
Children ages 7 – 9 are ready for more traffic learning, but still need adult supervision. They are still not old enough to walk alone by themselves, as they need to be able to handle things such as how fast cars move, strangers approaching them, someone calling to them.
Age 10 and up kids can learn to walk alone, perhaps to and from school. It’s always best to map out the best way for your child to get there, and walk with a buddy if you can. This way you know your child isn’t alone. Some kids are ready younger than this but that doesn’t mean they should be allowed to walk alone.
The bottom line is that we live in a world that is unsafe. Last week in the Fraser Valley a woman was found dead at Mill Lake Park by joggers in the morning, only five blocks from the elementary school. And two men were beaten over the head at the park by random boys on skateboards. The world is a dangerous place, plain and simple. So parents need to not only be mindful of road rules, safety but err on the side of caution.
Kids go missing daily, taken a block from their homes and usually by someone they know. As mom (for me) that is a very scary thought, and I would never let my son walk to school by himself until I know he’s ready, understands the rules and is old enough.