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6 year old walking to school alone via a woodland track
327

Loveagingernut · 06/12/2021 22:17

I am looking for others views, maybe I’m being too protective and should be promoting independence.

Back story….
School walk via roads and pavements is over a mile long, however there is a short cut through woodland area where the track is just less than half a mile but it is classed as a forest. On the left of the forest is an industrial estate with approx 60 different businesses. Due to the nature of 80% of these businesses, they mainly employ men. On the right of the forest there is a residential area and the primary school.
The track is popular with dog walkers, teenagers going in the opposite direction to the secondary school use this short cut, and lots of men that walk or cycle to their employment in the industrial estate.

So this is my concern…..
A young mum, that I support, was walking her 6 year old daughter to school via the track, but I have found out that in the cold, winter, dark mornings, the child is now walking to school alone on this route. She doesn’t need to cross any roads so no safety issues there but am I being over protective thinking it’s not acceptable for a 6 year old taking this route on her own.

Mum isn’t taking her, because she has to be elsewhere for 9am and doesn’t have the time to take her daughter to school, thus allowing daughter to walk through the forest alone.

Am I being too protective or do I promote independence.

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JustLarkinAbout · 07/12/2021 00:08

I don't think it is entirely unreasonable for someone who is of the age to be a grandparental figure to be double-checking before making a fuss about this (as we have all agreed, she must). I'm probably a similar generation (maybe a bit younger) and my hyper-responsible mother did allow me to start walking to school by myself top year infants (age 7), although only after making very sure I knew how to cross the one sideroad involved, and in a time and place where there were lots of other children, and mothers with younger children, walking in the same direction. There were far fewer car dropoffs and no wraparound care, so this was half the school community.

But even my own youngest (now in their 20s) walked to school in similar circumstances, in a village, about a 5 minute walk with a main road to cross with a pedestrian crossing, from some time during Year 3, after extensive 'training' in the previous 3 school years. School would ring if children known to walk to school didn't arrive promptly. (KS2 were allowed to, depending on the safety of their route to school, KS1 no. Previous house was too far and unsafe for the others to do so until older.)

But, this journey, aged 6, alone? Absolutely no way whatsoever.

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bumbleymummy · 07/12/2021 00:08

I don’t think you’re being overprotective at all. I wouldn’t allow a 6 year old to walk by themselves like that.

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superplumb · 07/12/2021 00:09

No no no no
You even need to ask this? Of course it isnt ok. I'm.amazed the school havnt raised it already when they see the child walk in alone

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bluetowers · 07/12/2021 00:10

@Loveagingernut

Mum has to be at college for 9 am , 3 mornings a week in the opposite direction.
Unfortunately mum puts her own needs before her daughters, which I am fully aware of.

Or does she feel there is no free alternative
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HappyGirl86 · 07/12/2021 00:13

It's great you are trying to support Mum, you're a good person in her life but please please please report this to social services yourself directly and also to school.
We all need to act when we have concerns, and can't rely on other people reporting it for us.
School maybe really on it, but sometimes you don't know and I wouldn't want to delay a referral.
This isn't just about telling tales on mum, it's about her getting the right support, maybe from a social worker or family support worker, who can help and educate her about parenting.

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ABCeasyasdohrayme · 07/12/2021 00:14

@Psuedoshoes

Enter ABC to perfectly prove my point. Awful behaviour

What's awful is someone who appoints themselves as support, then gets a load of people to say the mum is rubbish in order to show her the thread.

A struggling mum making poor choices and needing support does not need to see a thread with a few hundred posts calling her allsorts.

What kind of support is that?
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Loveagingernut · 07/12/2021 00:17

The mum is, of course, wrong. But you know this anyway.

Why you feel the need to get validation from Internet strangers in order to show this girls mum the thread I don't know.

You say she's manipulative, sounds like she isn't the only one tbh.

If you're this womans self appointed support, and this little girls only trusted adult then you should perhaps behave in a supportive way, and act like a trusted adult, and either help and guide the mum to make better and safer choices, or make the appropriate reports to protect this little girl.

Coming on here and painting this picture of a crap mum making crap choices to rile people up so you can show her that lots of people think she is shit is just nasty.

Gosh I didn’t think I was being manipulative, but maybe you have a point.
I am trying so hard to support this mum keep her children,
In her defence, she isn’t a crap mum, and I didn’t mean to paint that picture, she can provide adequate care.

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RestingMurderousFace · 07/12/2021 00:18

A six year old shouldn't be walking anywhere alone should they?

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Marshwawows · 07/12/2021 00:19

I also think you need to ask yourself whether you are actually enabling neglect and standing by while a child is (possibly) in danger. Is your need to feel 'helpful' to or 'needed' by the mother greater than your need to protect this child? Don't discuss it with the mother.

This. Is your role formal?

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PerpetualStudent · 07/12/2021 00:20

ABC has it right - OP is saying if she leaves the child’s life she’ll ‘have no one’ but also that she can’t make a daily commitment due to other responsibilities? The clear, child-centred answer is to report it and to encourage the mother to access appropriate, sustainable and professional support. Anything else is makes it more about you than the child I’m afraid OP

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Loveagingernut · 07/12/2021 00:24

Anything else is makes it more about you than the child I’m afraid OP

Maybe I needed to here this too!
Maybe I need to reflect on what my role has been

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Ozanj · 07/12/2021 00:28

This isn’t considered appropriate in other countries either. Especially Germany / France. Even Japan and China are stamping down on it. 6 is too young to walk to school alone.

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julieca · 07/12/2021 00:30

Even in the seventies when most young kids did walk to school, they walked with friends or brothers and sisters, not alone.
It did used to be okay in other countries though. I can remember in Berlin seeing kids who looked 5 travelling across the city by bus alone.

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ABCeasyasdohrayme · 07/12/2021 00:30

I am trying so hard to support this mum keep her children

To be totally honest it doesn't really sound like you are helping.

If you weren't around then she would access proper support, either voluntarily, or she would be forced to.

It doesn't sound like you're able to offer any day to day practical help, as you have other commitments (understandable) and the fact you have to ask such a basic question about whether this is appropriate makes it seem like you're not too great at offering practical advice or solutions either.

The best thing you could do is help her access proper help and support from the school or social services.

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NoSquirrels · 07/12/2021 00:38

I am trying so hard to support this mum keep her children,
In her defence, she isn’t a crap mum, and I didn’t mean to paint that picture, she can provide adequate care.

She isn’t providing adequate care, though.

No one thinks a six-year-old should walk anywhere alone, ever.

So that’s not adequate care and in this instance it absolutely is being a “crap mum”.

If you want her to keep her children then you need to get her the help and supervision she requires.

If you want to help the children you need to be absolutely brutally honest with yourself- is it in their best interests to be with their mum right now?

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bubblesbubbles11 · 07/12/2021 00:39

"If you're this womans self appointed support,"

I have not read the whole thread but:

  • I would not let a 6 year old walk through a forest alone in a morning
  • I would however
    (i) investigate breakfast school options if any
    (ii) ask my employer if I could slightly move my hours to make sure my child can get to breakfast school and I can get to work (including asking the school if there is £ support so my child can go to breakfast school
    (iii) put out feelers beyond/as well as the OP about a trusted adult who might walk my child to school (although to achieve this might be a challenge depending on who is available)
    (iv) question myself as to why when my child is 6 I cannot be around for when school starts to drop him/her off. And this one I hesitate with because I know how imperative it is to work (especially as a single parent) and how inflexible the variables can be.
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NotAshamedToFancyTheGrinch · 07/12/2021 00:42

I wouldn’t show the mum this thread. It might enrage her you’ve been “shaming” her on the internet and she’ll shut you out of the little girls life forever.
Report to school and social services.

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Suzanne999 · 07/12/2021 00:49

Promoting independence in a six year old is encouraging them to dress themselves, change for P.E., hang their coat up, put their toys away, NOT walk to school alone through a woodland bordered by an industrial estate. This is neglect.
I’d suggest this mother needs support from a more professionally regulated source.

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SimpsonsXmasBoogie · 07/12/2021 00:51

I used to get dropped at primary school 20mins before the gates opened and be left to wait outside, otherwise my stepdad wouldn't have made it to work on time. There were a few others kids that did the same and there were adults around on the school grounds, they just hadn't opened the gates yet. So although not an ideal situation, it felt quite safe. Nothing ever happened.

Obviously times have changed and I don't know if this is still an option, but it was certainly better than me walking alone in the dark at age 6.

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ClaudiaJ1 · 07/12/2021 01:01

YANBU 6 is too young to walk alone to school.

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Awwlookatmybabyspider · 07/12/2021 01:11

WTAF. It's not just the roads that are a potential danger. You don't know what creeps are hanging around there. 6 Years old, what's she thinking of. That's a baby FFS

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Kennykenkencat · 07/12/2021 01:14

The mum lacks in parenting skills

I think there is a lot more lacking than just parenting skills.

Whilst you are trying to keep this family together, are you doing more harm than good if the lack of understanding around safety, time management and just basic care isn’t there.

Encouraging independence is just another term for I CBA ensuring my dc gets to school safely and on time as I have better things to do with.

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Kokeshi123 · 07/12/2021 01:15

I live in a country where 6yos do walk to school, and mine did from age 7. But that was along a shortish route in a well populated area---the kids had the option of walking in walking groups, and the road crossings are manned by volunteers. I think this arrangement (in the OP) sounds unsafe. Does the UK not offer any support options for single parents who struggle to get their kids to school while working?

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Kokeshi123 · 07/12/2021 01:17

No one thinks a six-year-old should walk anywhere alone, ever.

Actually, some people on this thread really have said that (which I think is ridiculous)

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SleepingStandingUp · 07/12/2021 01:20

How are school not taking action? There's teachers at our gate, they clock every child coming in and the grown up. Only yr 6 so 10/11are allowed to walk alone and even that's banned for after school club.

A 6yo rocking up regularly alone would set off alarm bells.

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