Is Walking To School A Thing Of The Past?

   By drodriguez  Sep 14, 2009

For many parents, the idea of their kids walking to school is not an option, no matter the distance.  With horrific stories of kidnapping circulating daily in the news, it is no wonder that parents fear the worst will happen to their children if they walk the streets unsupervised.  According to data from the National Household Travel Survey, in 2001 only 13 percent of children walked or rode their bikes to school as compared with the 41 percent that used to in 1969. 

So why the big decline, is it really that much more dangerous to walk to school now as it was back then?  Or are our fears compounded by the increase in media coverage and outlets that allow us to hear more stories about children being abducted?

A recent article from New York Times reported that roughly 115 children are abducted by strangers each year as compared to the 250,000 that are injured in auto accidents.  So is it really safer to drive your child to school?  Paula Fass, author of "Kidnapped: Child Abduction in America" explains, "We try to control our fears to the nth degree, so we drop our children off right at school.  It’s a confirmation that ’I’m a good parent.’"

The minority of parents that allow their children to walk to school often report experiencing disapproval from other parents as well as school officials.  One mother, Lori Pierce, from Columbus, Miss. allowed her eager 10-year-old son to walk to a nearby soccer practice.  Several people who saw the boy walking reportedly called 911 before a police officer arrived and drove the boy the rest of the way to his practice.  Pierce was later reprimanded by the officer for allowing her son to walk alone.

What do you think of the decline in parents allowing their children to walk to school?

Do you feel it is safe enough to allow your children to walk or ride their bikes to school?

Make a Comment

carrothead by carrothead | ormond beach, FL
Nov 29, 2009

kifds in florida if they live less then 2 mile they have to walk to school . So why are they not get after school from let kids walk to school . I think if they are tring to keep kids safe they need check out school to see why they are leting kids walk to school and arrest them.

AimeeAken by AimeeAken | Omaha, NE
Nov 19, 2009

My children's school is too far away, but I still would not allow them to walk to school even for a short distance. I see a few students walking to school in group usually, but that would still make me nervous. It only takes that one moment for a bad time / bad place. It is not worth it. The few extra moments it takes you to drive them to school, enjoy it and talk with them.. have fun :) They are only small once so enjoy every moment. Do not let them fall victim to that one moment where you were not there. This is in regards to small children. I think as a teen they should be fine to walk to school, even though at that age I am sure they will want the first class "limo" service from the parents...

linny09 by linny09 | gardena, CA
Oct 21, 2009

It depends. If the kids want to walk you have to give them a little bit of reedom as long as they keep in contact with you where ever there going.

CinnamonHollow by CinnamonHollow | Nicholasville, KY
Oct 20, 2009

I think if I were to ever give in and let my kids walk to school.... I'd probably only be two steps behind them! There is just way too much danger out there to go alone in my opinion. It is just too scary.

sabrinalove by sabrinalove | Landover, MD
Oct 14, 2009

I Take My brother to school. and I will countinue doing that. no matter what the deal is. I just wanna make sure he gets to school.

Alyssarae92293 by Alyssarae92293 | BOYNTON BEACH, FL
Oct 14, 2009

I think those people who called 911 were overreating a bit???Did the really have to call the police??? It's just a kid walking down the street????But then again things are worst now than they used to be.

chaves1919 by chaves1919 | Ashburn, VA
Oct 14, 2009

Unfortunately I do not believe it's safe for our children to walk alone in public. There are too many instances where a child has been harrassed or even kidnapped becauses there was a lack of parental supervision. It's unfortunate that our children cannot live the way we did in the past. The white picket fences are of the 70's and 80's. I truly hope my husband and I can raise our children to not be afraid yet to not talk to strangers and to trust their gut instinct.

meghitt by meghitt | Madison, MS
Oct 12, 2009

I'm from Mississippi and unfortunately we just moved from the state last year due to my hubby's work. We did not live in Columbus but in another town in Miss and our daughter either walked to school or rode the bus as a 5yr old kindergartner! and she loved every second of it and was totally safe at all times due to the circumstances under which she was allowed to do so. So I think since we dont know how close or far the soccer fields were then we cant speculate. I can say that Columbus is a wonderful town and most of the town centers around the Air Force base there so my guess is that this child was perfectly fine to walk on his own.

kokomojo by kokomojo | Winston, OR
Oct 06, 2009

We walked everywhere as kids. We took the bus downtown without supervision. I wouldn't allow that to happen today. I hate taking the train by myself and would never allow a child to do it. Things have changed. I cringe when I see anyone walking alone. I worry that they are vulnerable.

Nubians by Nubians | N PLAINFIELD, NJ
Oct 05, 2009

I am 40 years old and I do remember walking pretty much everywhere. But those were times when neighbors looked out for one anothers children. Our community was a lot closer then. And the old addage did apply: "It takes a village to raise a child." Unfortunately no is willing to lend a hand to their neighbor in the present times. No one is willing to be "a good neighbor." Now don't get me wrong, I understand they dangers of the world today, I myself have three children... So now we are repremanded for allowing our children to walk.... so who's to blame for obesity problem in our children???

latinamom by latinamom | Kaufman, TX
Oct 01, 2009

We are deffinitely more aware now thanks to the media, but besides that, I think our world is much more corrupt than it was 30-40 years ago. Before, due to lack of technology, parents were not as aware of many things. Its not just about the danger of being abducted, its also the possablitly of being offered drugs on the way to school, being run over, skipping school to do God know what. We as parents are more aware of all the dangers lurking around our children now. Yes, we need to teach them to handle themselves, but there are other ways to do so other than this. It is our right and responsability to protect them.

safire9983 by safire9983 | Castro Valley, CA
Sep 28, 2009

I must admit I am not a mother so I have no idea the intense sense of protection that accompanies having children. But I do think the media shoves the most depraved and horrible stories down our throats on a daily basis. Nancy Grace is always trying someone in the court of public opinion and the local news just reaffirms my fear that there is no such thing as a safe neighborhood anymore. I think it is perfectly OK to allow your child to walk to/from school as long as you have explained the do's and don'ts with them. Don't talk to strangers. Don't get in a car with anyone who doesn't know the family password. Don't jaywalk or stray from the established route home. Also, in the age of the cell phone, one would think it would be safer for children to walk since their parents are just a phone call away!

ajluvkj by ajluvkj | archer, FL
Sep 27, 2009

My kids are supposed to walk to school, but we drive or throw them on a bus. We live next to a daycare that somehow within the walking distance gets school district bus service. Are there large busy streets? My personal views is check for sex offenders, make sure none of the streets are too busy at that time of day, and find a walking buddy, preferably older. Stuff used to happen. I walked to school in the mid 80's (1st grade)and early 90's(5th to 7th). I was on a military base in the mid 80's and we had snatching problems. It happens everywhere. It used to happen int he good ole days too... The laws/police/media were different. No child abuse, pregnancy was not discussed, cancer was nicknamed the big c.... Totally different times!

MrsMichelle by MrsMichelle | Barrington, IL
Sep 25, 2009

Wow. We can't walk or ride to school, as it's a 25 minute drive. But if we lived within walking distance, my wee ones would both walk. Not alone in kindergarten, but by the time they were 10 (as cited here with the soccer practice example)? Absolutely! As much as I want to keep my children safe at all times, it's also critical that they learn how to handle themselves and take responsibility in a (relatively) low pressure situation.

blake2020ca by blake2020ca | sault sainte marie, MI
Sep 25, 2009

I allow my children to walk but i can spit on the school from my house so i don't really think my opinion counts much.