28 answers

When Is the Magical Age When Kids Can Walk Themselves Home from the Bus Stop????

Hi. My daughter is 8 1/2 yrs old ( responsible for her age). We live in a small neighborhood with tons of kids, everyone knows each other by name and whose kids belong to who :) Our bus stop is at the entrance of our neighborhood, our house is less than half a mile from the bus stop (about a 5-8 minute walk). At what age or grade do you think it is okay for me to allow her to walk home by herself? I will probably always drive her to the bus stop in the morning b/c we are always running late, and I want to make sure she gets on the bus and doesn't miss it :), but I feel comfortable with her walking home by herself when the weather is nice, I think the only thing holding me back is worrying that the other moms will think I'm horrible. All the other parents come to and from pick up, they even get out of their cars and stand in the rain and wait, I don't take it that far, I sit in my car when it's cold or rainy. Am I being silly to worry about what others think or would they be right to think I was horrible for letting her walk alone at this age? And if not at 8 or 9, when is the magical age that is socially acceptable? Thanks!!!

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She really wouldn't be "alone".... there is an enormous amount of people walking the whole distance. We have 5 families across the street and 3 next to us. It really looks like a small parade at 4pm in our neighborhood.....I just don't want the other parents to think that I am expecting them to be responsible for her. Thanks for the advice so far!! Keep it coming, I love hearing everyones point of view!!

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Since there are so many other kids walking home from school, do you think you could set up with the others a group to walk home? That way none of the kids are alone.
Maybe talk with the other parents and set up a day that each can watch for the kids to come home? That way no one has to always be there.
Just an idea.

2 moms found this helpful

Thirty?

I see elementary children walking home from school in the neighborhood. Some of them seem as young as eight. But they're walking with siblings or friends. Safety in numbers?

2 moms found this helpful

For me the magic age was 10, when she started middle school, and it was home from school not the bus stop. It also involves crossing a busy street.

With the conditions you described, I think it would be fine for her to walk home. Don't worry about what the other parents think. I've found that when it comes to the other parents, we all kind of watch out for each other.

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I think it depends on the type of neighborhood you live in, your daughter's maturity level and her understanding about stranger danger and all that. I think I would allow my daughter to walk that half mile home from the bus stop if she had one or two of her friends walking with her. It's that whole "safety in numbers" thing. Maybe you can talk to some of your neighbors and feel them out to see if they will allow their daughter walk home with you daughter on warm weather days. I'm sure that you could probably find one or two moms who would be okay with this idea.

4 moms found this helpful

I guess it is what you are comfortable with. I personally still watch my 7th grader walk to and from the bus stop and it is only 5 houses down. I also live in a "safe" neighborhood but my kids are my responsibility until they are 18 and how do I really know who is driving/living in my neighborhood. There are always lots of landscapers and various contractors in my neighborhood. No matter how mature your child, it wouldn't take much for a 180+ lb man to grab a child. Not that I live my life thinking or worrying about this but it is certainly easy enough for me to watch them coming home from the bus stop so I just do: )

3 moms found this helpful

If you live in a suburban neighborhood with ALL houses then yes. I would never let my child walk alone in a rural neighborhood. Seems like most abdcutions you hear about happen then.

I would not let her walk completely by herself. Are there other kids that walk with her?

Lastly-if you DO let her do this you should coach her that she is not to talk to ANYBODY on her way home. A wave or a hello is all. Tell her-If Mr. Smith says hi and come here I want to show you something-you say NO I have to go home. No stopping for anyone.

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My daughter will be 9 in March and in 3rd grade. I would let her walk that distance through our neighborhood to our home. She currently walks to a friend's house about 1/4 mile away and back by herself.

If you haven't already, teach her some basic rules about watching out for herself, and what to do in specific situations. Remind her that she knows many people and houses along the way and that it is acceptable to ask for help in any situation.

BTW - the current crime rate in this country is the same as it was in the 70s, not one bit higher. By age 10, I was riding bike on a 10 mile round trip into town just for fun in the summer.

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I laughed when I first read this because I thought "When they get married and have kids".

How about having a get together with the neighbors and talk about it. Tell them your daughter is wanting to walk but you are wondering if all the kids could walk together. They could have some education about what to "NOT" do, of course they know a lot of it but in real life it's very hard for a kid to tell an adult "No, I'm not getting in your car" or "No, I can't help you find your puppy". Also, talking aobut how they should stay together as a group is important too.

I don't know the magic age. I would not let the kids walk that far until they were older.

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I think it sounds very safe. crowds of kids all walking home in a small neighborhood. Id she is mature and follows directions well, she should be fine.
Just make sure she calls you when she gets home if you are not going to be there for some reason.

Also point out Safe houses so that if she gets nervous she knows she can go to those homes..

The amount of children kidnapped in this country is actually very small. Of course the news does not report that "Millions of children are safe at home tonight".. instead they focus on the 1 or 2 kids that go missing.. mostly because the kids run away on their own..

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Unfortunately, we just don't live in a safe society....so what might work for one area will not work for another.

Gosh, I used to walk a mile home alone in KG....that would be unheard of now and alone would be ever so risky.

I'm with you on allowing freedom and creating independence. Can she walk home with a buddy and you wait outside your home so you can see her and friend walking together?

And has she asked to start walking alone or to a friends?

I recommend she's at least in the 5th grade before going it alone.

And waiting in the car is a perfectly fine alternative to standing out in inclement weather...I would pay bills, make phone calls, listen to a favorite CD, catch up on reading....your car is a great, quiet place to catch a little solitude.

Also, these years go by so quickly, I would probably look at it as an opportunity to get to know the other families and kids and see what school and after school activities everyone is going to.

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I haven't read the other responses.....so forgive if I'm repeating. My son is 5 (almost 6) and BEGGED me to let him walk home from the bus stop. However, ours is only 7 houses away and I can stand at the front door and watch him get off the bus and walk. I was, however, still paranoid. I kept thinking, even though I could see him, someone in a car could STILL snatch him and, even running, I couldn't possibly catch them. Then I also, like you, started contemplating the other parents reactions.....the only difference is that I'm currently the only parent still picking up. So we gave it a trial run for about a week. It worked out well and now I'm feeling a little better about it. But its a personal decision......and you know....maybe other parents WANT to do the same but just don't want to be the first. You might just find that you'll be the trend setter...LOL

2 moms found this helpful

Since there are so many other kids walking home from school, do you think you could set up with the others a group to walk home? That way none of the kids are alone.
Maybe talk with the other parents and set up a day that each can watch for the kids to come home? That way no one has to always be there.
Just an idea.

2 moms found this helpful

I guess I'll be in the minority because I don't think she would ever be ok to walk home alone. We hear about terrible things that happen to small children every day in nice neighborhoods. And they happen in distances less than .5 mile from the child's home.

Mature for her age or no, she is still a young child and easily influenced or controlled. How many specials have been done on, say, kids home alone and the parents are watching via a hidden camera. They all said "oh my kids know the rules, they'd never let a stranger in the house". And guess what? Every single kid let the stranger talk their way into the house (in nice neighborhoods too).

As a young teen, using a buddy system it might be ok as there is safety in numbers but I can't imagine allowing an 8.9.10 year old to walk .5 or so alone.

2 moms found this helpful

Thirty?

I see elementary children walking home from school in the neighborhood. Some of them seem as young as eight. But they're walking with siblings or friends. Safety in numbers?

2 moms found this helpful

I think that if the _only_ reason you're not letting her walk is that you don't want the judgment from other parents, then you should let her walk. After all, won't you want her to be able to stand up to peer pressure when she gets older? And that self-censoring is absolutely a form of peer pressure.

And BTW, I'm like you - I'd have my daughter walk too. Statistically she's in much greater danger getting in the car than walking home, and the exercise will do her some good. Just give her a couple practice runs and come up with what you're going to say to the other moms. Who knows - maybe they're also waiting for someone else to be the first?!

2 moms found this helpful

We always waited at the bus stop by ourselves and walked home as well. My house was right near the stop, but the kids down the street all walked home from when we started school. There are no more stranger abductions today than there were in the 70s. The kids at the bus stop on my corner now never even talk to each other - each one sits in the SUV with their mom (nope, no dads at our stop).

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I would think 4th or 5th grade would be ok. Are there any neighbor kids that walk towards your house where she wouldn't have to walk the whole way home by herself?

1 mom found this helpful

You know, I would probably ask one of the other Mom's across the street whose kids walks home would her children mind if your child walked home with her. But other than that, I wouldn't worry about the other Mom's. I get caught in that sometimes too but I still leave my youngest 2 strapped into their car seats and jump out of the car at pick up when the line comes out, grab my oldest and throw him into his seat!

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For me the magic age was 10, when she started middle school, and it was home from school not the bus stop. It also involves crossing a busy street.

With the conditions you described, I think it would be fine for her to walk home. Don't worry about what the other parents think. I've found that when it comes to the other parents, we all kind of watch out for each other.

1 mom found this helpful

My son is 8 next month. We can see the bus stop from our front door so he "thinks" he is walking home alone. His buddy in 3rd grade still gets met at the sop because their house is out of view from the bus stop. Our middle school starts in 5th grade....so I'm thinking then?

1 mom found this helpful

Half a mile is a little long for an 8 year old, unless she's got a couple of buddies walking with her the whole way.

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As long as there is a group, I think it's fine. My concerns would be about your neighborhood (not the crime rate). How busy are the streets? How parked up are they? How good is the visibility. Like several moms have said, the crime rate is no different from when we may have been in school, but in my town, the TOWN is very different. Quaint little houses with driveways were torn down and McMansions were built in their places, filling every eligible square inch of property, so cars that would have been parked in driveways are now filling the streets. Visibility at the corners is far worse than it was when I was a kid, and one could argue that drivers are more distracted. So, while your child is mature enough to follow the rules and be careful, make sure the environment is safe enough that she will be able to see drivers and they will be able to see her. My daughter is 7 1/2, very mature, and definitely NOT walking by herself. But, there aren't other kids that are walking right where we are, and she has one really difficult intersection and a couple of turns. If it was straight down the street and didn't involve that one intersection, maybe next year.

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my son is 8 and he walks the block and 1/2 home by himself- well not alone with kids in the neighborhood. Honestly it still makes me nervous but my DH is home and can see him from our house

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18? Just joking. I lived about half a mile from my school as a child and I was about 10 1/2 - 11 before my parents allowed me to walk home by myself or with friends. Then again that was back in the 1970's where there weren't as many weirdos out there. My opinion would be just wait until she's a little older like 11 .. that's just me. Good luck.

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We live in a very safe area in our city. Our bus stop is just around the corner and down a half a block. I still walk my 9 year old there every morning and meet her there every afternoon. Having a dog to take for a walk is a great excuse to be there, too. She is in 3rd grade. My older daughter leaves 5 minutes before we do. She has a bus stop about a block further away for middle school (her first year). She is 11 and in 6th grade. This is the first year I let her go alone. However, I can see her get on the bus when I am waiting with my younger, which is comforting. Also, there is a little coffee shop across from her stop in a high traffic neighborhood area, so she isn't at all waiting in an isolated area.

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I haven't read all the other posts, but since from what you said, there are a lot of families right on your block...why not set up a schedule with 4 other families and have each family/parent be responsible to get all the kids home one night a week?

That said, what does your daughter want? Have you asked her? I would take her input into consideration in the situation.

I think she's too young to be without a parent, my husband would probably say let her go...

No magical age for walking home, play outdoors with friends without a parent with, for driving, for dating...etc....
It is a totally individual thing based upon the maturity of the child.
Three teen age boys: all different with regards to maturity...all had different ages for various freedoms in life.
Good luck.

i would never let her walk home alone. never look how many kids did and they got taken.

I was a 'latch key kid' many moons be fore that term ever existed. I walked a long way to and from the stop from age six on.
Since there is such a large group are there maybe a couple of Jr High or High school kids that you know and trust well that could walk with her for awhile??

I would think 10 is a good age to allow her to walk home alone for that distance. I let my 9 yr. old daughter walk home by herself, but we live across the street from her school.

I would like to share this article on a blog. I just read this is cell phone safety application that could help a lot of parents in leaving their kids at home alone. Take a look at it and enjoy the giveaways they are giving. I just have mine and it's amazing how it works. Feel free to drop by here's the link http://anationofmoms.com/2011/08/protect-your-family-give...

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