Children Travelling Alone. When is it safe?
We all worry about our children — it’s an inbuilt mechanism that connects to our brain the moment they enter our world.
This protective shield remains steady when our child’s neck is not strong enough to hold his/her head up, when we hide every cord and power plug in sight, and when we rush to the doctor for a runny nose. We protect our children even when we hesitate on their first time at daycare and when we hold their hands during their first wobbly steps.
So what happens the day we send our children off to school. Do we let them walk? Can they take the bus? And at what age is it appropriate to let our children get to school on their own?
Denise and Bruce Morcombe know and understand this anguish better than any parent in Australia. They recently saw through the tenth anniversary of the Daniel Morcombe Foundation, an education platform for parents and educators to teach young people about personal safety.
The couple started the foundation two years after their son Daniel disappeared at a bus stop in Woombye on the Sunshine Coast. In those 12 years since Daniel’s disappearance Denise and Bruce Morcombe have transformed their grief into incredible strength, taking the lead in child safety to become a nationally-recognised symbol of awareness. They take to the roads for weeks at a time, visiting schools and communities, encouraging students and parents to remember their motto of Recognise, React and Report.
You would think if anyone was going to say that it’s not safe to let your kids take the bus to school, it would be them. But no, they encourage this development and believe kids should be able to walk to school, catch buses and visit their friend’s homes without hesitation or fear, but believe they also need to be know how to recognise danger and what actions they should take if danger does arise.
We asked the Morcombe’s to help our parents answer a few crucial questions with regards to child safety, and here are their responses.
One scary question that a lot of parents face is how old kids should be before they walk to school on their own. Who makes that call?
Bruce and Denise: The parent makes the call. So many variables: maturity of child, area and distance to walk, road safety is just as important as potential predators they may meet.
How young is too young to walk to school?
Bruce and Denise: Some students will be ready years before others. The question they should ask themselves is, are there busy roads to cross? Will they feel safe?
How do we know our child is ready to walk to school?
Bruce and Denise: Maturity and understanding of basic principles of safety.
How can we better prepare our children?
Bruce and Denise: Walk with the child for a certain distance then observe from a distance for a number of weeks. Lengthen that distance over the weeks.
What are the signs of danger we should teach our children to look out for?
Bruce and Denise: Recognise, React and Report are our keywords. More information is on our website, including video downloads for children and parents. Create a family password.
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