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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.

OP's posts:
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cushioncovers · 07/12/2021 08:12

No this is not ok op. It is a serious safeguarding issue. A 6 year old will have no defence against anyone adults or other kids who decide to target them. Also what if they get injured on the way? Bloody ridiculous idea to let a vulnerable child do that every morning.

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JinglingHellsBells · 07/12/2021 08:13

@Waxonwaxoff0

Absolutely not OK. I do not allow my 8yo to walk to school alone, the school doesn't allow it either until Year 6 10/11 year olds.

The school is being ridiculous. They can't enforce that. What are they going to be if parents don't comply?

I walked to school from age 7. It was along a road with one crossing with a school lollipop lady.

Most days I did it with a friend.

I think 6 is too young if it's through a secluded area, but equally some posts here simply show how some parents are too protective.

In my village there are children aged 8 walking to school so that's yr 3.

Most crimes against children happen by family and people they know, not men lurking in a wood.
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Cailin66 · 07/12/2021 08:27

Children need to learn independence and resilience. It’s about a 15 minute walk. Child seems to be managing it ok. There are no roads to cross and there are plenty of people on the route. I am not seeing the stranger-danger that others see. That irrational fear makes parents wrap children in cotton wool.
The mother is struggling. And trying to get educated. Plus she’s a single mother. If the child is managing this walk already and seems ok with it, than what is the actual reason to report it. The mother is to be commended for bringing up her daughter singlehanded, for sending her child to school and for seeking further education. She is the judge of whether the child is old enough or not. And this was not uncommon in my childhood. My husband had to do it. Ideally another child going the same route that they could buddy up with would be the ideal solution. There was two unnecessary references to men initially. All men are not a danger. The fact there are a lot of adults about is a good thing. And if a man wants to take a child the child being 10 isn’t going to stop him.

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Tal45 · 07/12/2021 08:27

I don't understand how some people are seen as being 'too protective'. Children don't need to be walking to school alone before 10/11 years old. The only thing you learn from walking to school is how to walk to school and you can do that with an adult walking next to you. No one needs to be completely independent at 6 or 7, the most 'independent' kids I know are the ones whose parents don't bother with them - and they're not 'independent' in a good way - more always off causing trouble.

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FestiveMelts · 07/12/2021 08:28

Hell no! I'd avoid such a walk myself and I'm in my 30s.

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CaMePlaitPas · 07/12/2021 08:31

Do you need to post this on Mumsnet? Where is your common sense?

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theapplesinthetrees · 07/12/2021 08:44

For the child's own safety, you need to do the right thing and report this. It's a safeguarding issue.

There is absolutely no way I would let my future 6 year old DD walk to school alone. It is too young. Maybe Y5 or 6, but definitely not at 6 years old.

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seperatedmum · 07/12/2021 08:52

I can picture an area like that here, through woods, industrial area adjacent, lots of schoolchildren use it, however every time I cut through this pretty path to work instead of using the longer route I almost get swiped by those cycling to school (just a fact) get cloaked in a cloud of skunk and wonder if I should've gone the other way! I'd never send my 7yo through there alone

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eca80 · 07/12/2021 09:03

There’s no right answer to this - it is partly cultural attitudes, and partly the child’s capabilities. Having lived in Asia, in some countries it is quite common for even younger children to navigate busy roads, ride public transit, etc on their own. It is seen as important for child development, but kids are prepared and eased into it. Adults in general know to look out for kids out and about

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2pinkginsplease · 07/12/2021 09:08

As an adult I wouldn’t walk a wooded area for half a mile by myself!

Our local primary school asks that until a child is 8 they are dropped off and picked up at the school doors. So they would have concerns about a 6yr old walking through a wooded area alone to get to school,

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couchparsnip · 07/12/2021 09:08

The school is being ridiculous. They can't enforce that. What are they going to do if parents don't comply?

They do enforce it.
In summer term - I sent my Year 4 daughter to school walking with her Year 6 brother, the mum across the road had two of the same ages so she did the same. They were all together and walked all of 5 minutes over one road crossing with a pedestrian light - along with dozens of other kids and parents.
When the school found out, the safeguarding officer phoned me and told me that wasn't allowed because my Y6 has 'too much responsibility for his age'. She implied I would be reported to social services and DS would be considered 'at risk' by the school.
I started this in the last term of the year. The school didn't take into account both were old in the Year and already older than most Yr 5's in September - who would be allowed to walk in with each other.
We had to take the year 4s ourselves, or risk being reported, which we did because we didn't want the hassle. We were told it was a blanket ban on children below Year 5 coming into school without an adult.

Most schools will be similar I would have thought. Report to the school OP.

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NellieBertram · 07/12/2021 09:09

Can you not just help OP?

This seems to be like something that is quite easily solved - either you offer to walk the child to school those 3 mornings.
Or help the mum access breakfast club?
If it's only 3 mornings it will likely be a few quid a week.

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43leftfeet · 07/12/2021 09:09

@CaMePlaitPas

Do you need to post this on Mumsnet? Where is your common sense?

Did you need to post that on Mumsnet? Where's your humanity? Or your manners even?

This is an anonymous forum full of mothers. It is exactly the right place to post a question about parenting. Why should the OP know this? She may not be a mother herself, and if she is, her DC would have been little a long time ago. If she'd asked the question 30 years ago she'd have got a very different set of answers. It's not common sense, it's cultural.

Why would you be so rude to the OP? You know the effect of shunning people for asking questions is to make people afraid to ask questions. Is that what you intend to do?
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C8H10N4O2 · 07/12/2021 09:10

Have you posted this elsewhere OP? I've read something very similar elsewhere right down to the feckless mother with the temerity to try and improve her education work prospects and thereby her DCs' future.

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JinglingHellsBells · 07/12/2021 09:12

@Tal45 Sorry but you are wrong.

At 11 most kids are off to secondary school and that means either walking, catching a bus or even a tube and train.

If they have had NO practise till then, they are seriously disadvantaged.

One of the life skills kids need is a slow introduction to being independent. Not thrown in at the deep end at 11.

One thing that has changed over the past 50 years is the number of parents with cars who ferry their children to school. Not only is this bad for their health ( number of primary aged kids leaving in year 6 already obese) but it's bad for their self confidence.

Children learn to judge risks, traffic, road safety etc, by being exposed to it in a safe and gradual way.

When I went to school in the 60s, there were very few children who were walked to school with a parent above the age of 8. They tended to walk in groups and 'collect' each other en route.

The difference now is so many parents drop their kids off by car as they go to work, mainly to save time.

Children need to be exposed gradually to making decisions about what's safe, what's not etc. I don't believe they ought to be crossing busy roads alone before 10 or 11, but a straight walk of half a mile or so to school is do-able from the age of 8 or 9, especially if they do it with friends.

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3WildOnes · 07/12/2021 09:20

I think this would be fine if there was a culture of young children walking to school without parents. Then the children would be able to walk in groups together. I have family in Norway and I think they do walk without parents at this age (at least where my relatives live) but I don’t think they would be on their own. In the UK where this isn’t the norm this just isn’t safe. I would report to children’s services. If this is they only reported concern they have on file they are unlikely to do anything but if it is part of other reported concerns they this may trigger some sort of conversation/support for the mum.

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SleepingStandingUp · 07/12/2021 09:27

@tttigress

Currently living in Switzerland, that is perfectly normal here, and having parents taking children around is considered damaging to the child.

But I can see Hy it might stand out in the UK.

What do they consider children can take themselves off out alone if its normal to be walking to school alone at 6? Genuine curiosity. School is only a mile away but there two major roads with lots of ambulances and lorries / lorries and buses that would make me nervous even when he's 10
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SafferUpNorth · 07/12/2021 09:27

Good lord, reading your post gives me the chills. NO WAY should a six-year-old girl be left to walk that alone. I'd not even let a 10 year old do it.

However by going to college this young mum is at least trying for a better future. By the sounds of it, she should be entitled to some breakfast club support from the school so that she can drop her daughter before going to college.

If I were you I'd talk to the school, explain what you know and ask them to offer the girl a place.

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SleepingStandingUp · 07/12/2021 09:28

Sad because of the number of people who think a 6 year old shouldn't walk to school alone. Of course a 6 year old can walk to school alone, there's nothing wrong with that, why the hell should it be a safeguarding issue??
Attitudes like this explain exactly why kids in the UK grow up over-protected and unable to do anything by themselves


Yes, yes, all parents in the UK are shit and our kids just lie about all day being hand fed like baby birds and turn into adults who live at home until they're 90 because they were walked to school by an adult in infant school 🙄🙄

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SaraSidleWillows · 07/12/2021 09:29

So, to me, you’re all a bit overprotective (and putting your nose where it doesn’t belong, it’s not abuse, it’s not your kid, it’s not your business)- but then England always did seem a little coddly.

Honestly though, she’s been shown the route. It’s half a mile. Contrary to popular opinion, there is not a around every corner.

Leave this poor woman alone. Fancy “stepping in” with a child you’re not related to. If the mum lies to you perhaps she doesn’t WANT you stepping in!

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Spikeyball · 07/12/2021 09:34

A 6 year old is too young to be walking alone to school. Even the most sensible one should be in the sight of their parent/carer. From 8/9 along safe routes is reasonable. If the mother doesn't listen to you, talk to the school.

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bluetowers · 07/12/2021 09:35

At our school walking to school alone is the norm at Yr4 but not below. DC take all sorts of different routes. There's always parents around. They tend to see friends & tag along together. But not in infants

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julieca · 07/12/2021 09:35

@2pinkginsplease

As an adult I wouldn’t walk a wooded area for half a mile by myself!

Our local primary school asks that until a child is 8 they are dropped off and picked up at the school doors. So they would have concerns about a 6yr old walking through a wooded area alone to get to school,

It is ridiculous as an adult that you wouldn't do that.
I do see a lot of anxious fearful behaviour in adults that isn't healthy.
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julieca · 07/12/2021 09:37

I lived in Switzerland for a bit, a large village admittedly, and it was normal for four year olds to walk home from nursery alone.

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secular39 · 07/12/2021 09:37

What does her being a young mum got to do with it? Couldn't you have just said "a mum that I support..."

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