I’m a big fan and follower of freerangekids.com. The author, Lenore Skenazy, campaigns to educate parents on the real and perceived risks to children. I appreciate the research she presents and it has helped me to be less fearful in raising my own girls.
The Little One’s school is probably one of the few in the country that actually encourages its students to walk, rather than have them dropped off by an adult. The school is situated in a neighborhood, off of any busy street, and the traffic congestion can get pretty bad. The school promotes an “All Walk” day once a month and we usually participate. We live about a half mile from the school, which is doable every day, but we’re lazy and sleep the extra fifteen minutes, so I usually take her on my way to work. However, every morning I see lot of kids walking to school. Many are alone or with siblings and no parents. No one seems to think this is dangerous or unusual.
Last Friday was All Walk day, and we got up early enough to walk. I know she’ll be fine if she walks alone, but the dog needed a walk and so did I, so I went with her. We got about two blocks from the school and heard a crash across the street. We looked over, and there was a little guy who had fallen off his scooter. We went over to check on him. He was crying, had a cut on his neck and was holding his arm like it hurt. I introduced myself and The Little One, asked him his name and who was his teacher. It turned out he had the same second grade teacher as The Little One had had. I picked up his scooter and told him we’d walk with him the rest of the way. The Little One stayed with him and chatted with him about Mrs. Second Grade Teacher. When we got to school, I walked him into the nurse’s office and told the school secretary he was in Mrs. Second Grade Teacher’s class. She commented it was nice I brought him in and I told her I couldn’t just leave him crying on the sidewalk.
After school, I asked The Little One if she’d seen the little boy at all during the day. She said she had gone by Mrs. Second Grade Teacher’s classroom to check on him and he was fine.
This incident illustrates that the Free Range Kids idea really works. Little Guy’s mother had enough faith that her kid was capable of getting himself to school. She also had enough faith that if something happened to him, it would be taken care of. Not only was there someone around when he needed it, there was someone who checked up on him.
The boogey man’s not really out there as much as we think. We just need to relearn how to treat each other like neighbors.