12 Year Old Daughter Walking to and from School

Updated on May 27, 2012
M.F. asks from Bessemer City, NC
18 answers

My 12 year old daughter wants to start walking to school, I'm scared, I told her I would think about it, but now I'm not sure, because you never know what can happen out there, I'm not too sure if I should let her walk, or if i should keep driving her, because I worry about my children, please help me make the right decision. It's about 1 or 2 miles to get to the school from the house, i'm thinking about letting her 15 year old brother walking her to school.

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answers from Dallas on

When I was 12 I walked to and from school. It was about 1.7 miles. I never crossed any road over two lanes each way and my neighbor hood was right next to the administration building for the school district. It was very, very safe. I understand that it has been 20 years since then (I'm aging myself here) and things have changed but it really depends on the route she would be taken. In my honest opinion, if she doesn't have to cross any major streets I would probably be okay with it. As long as she knows safe practices when it comes to walking and strangers/predators I would think a 12 year old would be perfectly capable of safely getting to and from school; especially if she has an older sibling walking with her. It definitely depends on where you are living and what types of neighborhoods she would be walking through.

A couple of suggestions. While school is out walk the route with her. Show her which routes would be safest. Time how long it would take her to walk the distance. Have a very long discussion between the two of them about safe walking practices. See if there are any friends that will be walking the same route (all the way or partial) and talk to their parents. She is going to have to learn how to do this at some point. Just teach her how to do it correctly and safely.

ETA: Buy her a cell phone; they have ones you can track now as well. Make a rule that you call as soon as you get to school and when you get home. This is what my bosses children do and they are 12 this school year.

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answers from Santa Barbara on

For me it would depend on the area and if she is going to be with friends. Is she a pretty smart cookie and responsible? I don't think an escort from her brother is what she is looking for :)

When my daughter was in middle school she would walk to her friend's house with a group occasionally and had a phone. I also let her get her drivers license at about 16 years and ten days. Gotta let the birdy fly!!

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answers from Seattle on

Depends on the area.

What are local hazards? Gangs, mountian lions, johns, swamps, freeways, etc.?

What is local culture like? Tons of walkers, or remote area? Good cell reception? Public transport? Friends who walk to school?

In some areas I'll let my 9yo have free rein. In others I wouldn't want a 19yo walking with an armed guard.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

She asked for some earned independence. She is asking you to trust her. Shis is 12 YEARS OLD! If you won't allow her to simply walk to school without you because of your own anxiety issues, she will find other risks to test her independence. Tread carefully.

We all worry about our children and want them to be safe. She has more of a chance of being struck by lightning at a soccer game than something bad happening on a walk to school. Are there other kids who she wants to walk with? Have her meet up with them. Kids have walked to school safely for hundreds of years. The myth of child predators lurking in every bush is something new to our generation of parents created by the constant 24/7 news cycle that makes it seem like kids are plucked off the streets daily. They are not. There is more of a chance of her being solicited ONLINE in a chat room vs. walking on the street.
My kids all bike to school (3 miles round trip) daily. They are 11, 9 and 5. Kids are capable of remarkable things. You never know what can happen if you never trust them to do anything.

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answers from Stationed Overseas on

Things have changed since we were kids. The crime rate against both children and adults has declined significantly since the 1970s. Kids now are actually safer than we were as kids. The reason that child abductions make the news is that they are so rare. Out of 800,000 kids that go missing each year, only about 100 are the typical stranger abductions. Most missing kids are runaways, taken in custody disputes, or end up coming back on their own a few hours later. We didn't have 24-hour news shows that broadcast rare child abductions by strangers when we were growing up and crime rates were higher!

Think about it...A plane crash makes the news because it's so rare. Car accidents don't make the news because they are an everyday occurrence. Yet you are statistically safer riding in a plane because there are hundreds of times more car accidents than plane crashes. But if you watch the news, you would think that planes fall out of the sky every day and motorists never have accidents. The same goes for walking to school. You don't see news reports about the millions of kids all over the world who walk to school and back home without incident. That would be very boring and the news programs' ratings would sink like a stone. Your child is perfectly safe if you teach her some basic safety rules like only accepting rides from certain people that she knows very well. Walking is good exercise and the fresh air is good for kids. It also helps against obesity.

A couple of suggestions to allay your fears: 1) If she and her brother attend the same school, have them walk together. 2) Have her walk with other kids in the neighborhood. 3) Have her walk to school with you the first few times. 4) Have her walk to school with you following a discreet distance behind her. When you are assured that she is perfectly safe, then you can let her go on her own. With #s 3 and 4 you both get some fresh air and exercise.

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answers from Eugene on

OK for all those who think that it's too dangerous: Your kid would have to walk around for 750,000 years to have a good chance of being abducted. In other words, it's vanishgly rare. There's less crime today than when you were growing up.

In fact your child is 40,000 times more likely to die getting driven to school than getting abducted while walking to school. No, I'm not making this up; the stats are available and easily verified.

It's all about your fears as a parent, not about your child's safety. So I'd say yes, let her walk. Walk with her the first few times. Reassure yourself that it is safe, and go over any points that concern you.

At 12, your child is old enough to be making decisions that impact the rest of her life. Chances are that in a year, she can get pregnant (if not already); it's time to teach her responsibility for her own actions.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Let her walk. If you try to make her and her brother walk together, she'll "ditch" him as soon as she's out of your sight anyway. It's time to let her grow up in a small way.

Get her a cell phone, if she doesn't already have one. And have her text you when she gets there for the first few days. Then, drop that, too.

(And as for having her brother driver her? She's WAY safer walking than riding with a newly licensed driver! She's actually safer walking than riding with ANY driver. Thousands of kids die in traffic accidents every year.)

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answers from Oklahoma City on

How far is it to school? How many other kids are walking the same roads? How street smart is she?

I walked with the neighborhood kids to and from school every day. It was a long way. I know it was close to a mile because it took about 20 minutes to get from school to home.

We did not have so many worries that the kids of today have. There are lots more TV shows out there to teach parents what can happen to their kids. So kids now have to be extra prepared to fight off adult predators too.

I think in the fall I would walk with her a few times to get the feel of it, if it feels safe, if you find there are some places where it's just too creepy or a perfect spot for someone to park and grab her...just to get the feel of the area. Then if she is with a group I might let her, if it's by herself then no. No way in heck.
The Red Cross teaches classes to 12 year old's on how to be a baby sitter. My thoughts are this...if a 12 year old child is old enough to watch someone else without adult supervision then they better have experience taking care of themselves first. She needs to learn to have alone time where she is taking care of herself and being responsible. BUT being alone on the road walking to school may not be the first right thing to allow.

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answers from Kansas City on

Would you like your child growing up in a state of fear? You can't live your life in what could happens.

What is the route like? Are there plenty of sidewalks? Would she have to cross a highway? Do other children walk to school? Is it a safe neighborhood? Is your child mature enough to walk to and from school without getting distracted?

In our neighborhood I would absolutely let her walk to school. In my best friend's neighbohood? No way.

It might help you to read Lenore Skenezy's book "Free Range Parenting." Which can help you to understand our culture of fear parenting and help let your child be more independent.

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answers from Atlanta on

IMO, I wouldn't let her. There are just too many things that can happen. Those days are gone.

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answers from Sherman on

i am having the same worries, my son wants to start walking, the middle school is about a 1/2 mile away and he would have to cross the highway, but i see about 30 kids doing it everyday and he has a friend who will walk with him, but i worry about bullies, or being kidnapped, or ran over, ............its hard to let them grow up..lol..good luck

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answers from Denver on

I would base my answer on what kind of kid she is. And I would let her know how I was making my decision. Is she reliable? When she says she's at Susie's house, is she actually at Susie's house or have you ever found out that she wasn't at Susie's house but at the mall instead? If you tell her to be home at 6, is she home at 6? Or do you have to call all over until 7:45 and she tells you she lost track of time? And is she focused? Would she keep on the predicted street and path to school or would she wander, or try a new shortcut that you didn't know about? If she is trustworthy, good for her word, and reliable, and if the neighborhood wasn't dangerous, I would let her know that I will be evaluating her over the summer for dependability and reliability and if she gives you no major cause for concern, I'd let her walk. But I'd remind her that if she demonstrates immaturity, unreliability, and takes careless chances, the privilege of independence will not be granted.

I'd also write a contract and have her sign it. I'd write what streets she would take (no shortcuts or new routes unless you approved), that she would always be prompt to school (no goofing off or walking too slow or getting too late of a start), and some basic safety rules (no hopping in anyone's car at random- even someone's mom; no walking with any strangers; no walking with any kids who have been drinking or who are exhibiting dangerous behavior). If she keeps to the contract, she can keep the privilege of independence. If you get tardy notices, or find out that Susie's older sister picked them all up and gave them a ride that day, the independence is forfeited. You can explain that's a part of growing up. We get cars and licenses but we have to obey the rules of the road. We get our own apartments, but we have to pay the rent on time and not destroy the place.

My son graduated from college and moved several states away. I'm scared too. (I still want to drive him to work!) Letting them move on to these new stages is scary, but I think it's important to evaluate the child and the situation. Some kids are ready to walk to school at 12, and some kids aren't even ready at 17. Think about your particular child and make your decision based on that, not fear.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on


With all that is going on in this world with child abduction makes your questions absolutely STUN me. Does your 15 year old go to the same school as your 12 year old? Do they have the same schedule?

Unless there is a school bus, or your daughter has a GROUP of kids that all walk together at the same going to school time and coming home time...then NO...she has no business walking alone.

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answers from Provo on

Is it because she wants to walk with her friends? Could you drive her to the house of one of the friends who lives closer to the school? At that age, sometime even 10 more minutes with your best friend every day can mean a lot. Just an idea.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Hard to say without knowing the area. However I probably would not let my child walk alone at that age and for that long of a distance every day.



answers from Raleigh on

there's nothing that happens now that didn't happen when you were 12. heck, i just sent my 9 year old on a bike ride by herself. let her walk. you know, as long as she doesn't have to cross a 6-lane highway and isn't too geographically challenged (like my 11 year old, who never seems to know where she is). how's she going to develop any sort of independence without you giving her some responsibility, ya know?

i mean, she's old enough to babysit; seems to me she's old enough to walk somewhere on her own, imho.



answers from Detroit on

I hear ya. If your gut tells you no, then don't do it. At 12, you make the rules for her, she doesn't. Heck, I don't even let my kids play in my backyard without me there and my yard is completely fenced in! Another possibility is since you have a 15 year old, will he be taking driver's ed? Once he gets his license, you can get him a car and have them drive together.


answers from Columbus on

See if she can walk with a friend or other kid from school, that way she won’t be walking alone, but you know your neighborhood better and can estimate its safety.
Just wanted to comment that although I understand your fear completely and that I know I will be the same way when my sons get older, it’s so sad that we as parents have to worry about so many things this days; when I was 11 (back in the 80's) and was an exchange student here, I walked to school and I don’t recall parents being that upset and there were kids from 2nd grade walking along also (I was in 6th grade).

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