“It’s Not Appropriate for Your Son to Walk Home Unaccompanied Until Middle School” — How to Fight Back

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How does change happen? How do we give kids — and ourselves — the freedom we all deserve? Freedom to be part of the world?  Sometimes all it takes is simply standing our ground and demanding our rights. Here’s what one mom did. – L
Dear Free-Range Kids: I LOVE what you are doing and wanted to share an experience with you. I recently transferred my 8-year-old, 3rd grade son to a new, small charter school in San Diego. After school, my son goes to the Boys and Girls Club. When I transferred him, I thought it would be no big deal to get him on the bus from the new school over to the club. But that’s when I ran into a snag.
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The bus was completely full. So I thought: It’s not that far, we can work together on a safe route and make sure he feels safe to take it on his own after school. We discussed it and he liked the idea. He learned the route.
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As it is a new school, I wanted to let them know that he would soon be leaving by scooter to get himself to the Club.  They said that children cannot leave campus until the teacher actually sees the authorized adult who is supposed to pick them up. I pushed a little harder and asked why and when would he be able to leave without an adult present. They had never dealt with that question and asked their higher-ups and came back to me saying nobody felt safe with him leaving on his own to go to the boys and girls club. And it wouldn’t be until about middle school that it would be appropriate.
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Well, I was shocked! But I kinda understand with the school being so small and parents being so involved. They did say they cannot legally tell me he cannot leave, but they wanted me to put something in writing. So this is my letter to them. Would there be anything else that you would add? And I am happy to share this with others if it can help anyone else out! —
Charlene

To whom it may concern,

 
I would like to authorize my child, _________,  to leave school independently, without an adult present, at my discretion. I will work out arrangements with my child for leaving school on a daily basis. He has my written permission to leave school by the following means: my picking him up in my car, riding in a car with a friend, walking, riding his bike, riding his skateboard, riding his scooter or by bus/shuttle/van. Pursuant to Section 8542 of the “Every Student Succeeds Act,” entitled “Rule of Construction Regarding Travel to and From School” it is my right as a parent to give my child permission as to how he is allowed to travel to and from school.
 
Thank you for your understanding in this matter. Please let me know if you have any further questions or concerns. I would like to give my child this permission starting today: Monday, March 14, 2016 and throughout his time at your school.
 
Kind regards,
 
Charlene
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You must be entering puberty to cross this street without your mom.

Stop! You must be entering puberty to cross this street without your mom! 

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53 Responses to “It’s Not Appropriate for Your Son to Walk Home Unaccompanied Until Middle School” — How to Fight Back

  1. Melanie G March 15, 2016 at 10:35 am #

    I would leave out “would like to.” It doesn’t make the letter sound less polite without that phrasing and you’re taking away the opportunity for the school to treat it like a request if you leave it out. Also, the bit about the law doesn’t really add anything to the letter one way or the other as it states that nothing in the rest of the act prohibits parents from getting their kids to and from school in a manner they see fit, but has no bearing on what local districts do.

  2. Craig March 15, 2016 at 10:40 am #

    I suggest a couple of changes..

    The very first words – “I would like to authorize my child..” Should be more like. “My child, ____ is authorized to leave school..”

    You are not asking anybody’s permission, instead you are stating what you have decided will happen.

    It is the same with the segment at the end.. “I would like to give my child this permission starting today..”

    Again, you are not asking for permission from your parents (this is old conditioned behavior that you can now leave behind you) It should read: “The above authorization shall be effective as of today (date)”

    Good on you for supporting your child toward becoming an empowered and effective adult. This really should serve as an observation on how almost everyone is brainwashed, emotionally programmed. Evidence of this is when the employee cannot make any kind of decision for herself and needed to go and ask a superior to tell them what to do. Everybody is programmed to be afraid and dependent. It sounds like you are encouraging your child to be the opposite. By making this decision and writing this letter you are teaching your son self-authority one of the most important lessons he will get.

  3. stacey March 15, 2016 at 10:44 am #

    “nobody ‘felt’ safe with him leaving on his own”…

    Feelings are what society is now basing rules/policy on. When did someone else’s feelings (Think, I’m offended) earn the right to dictate someone else’s behavior?

    I do not care about your feelings, nor should they impact anyone else’s life with regard to what they may do that is within the law.
    Examine all of the local school policies in your area. IF the words “Feel/feels” Felt, Regard, Think…. are the authority on which they are written… there is no authority.

  4. Anna March 15, 2016 at 10:46 am #

    “Also, the bit about the law doesn’t really add anything to the letter one way or the other as it states that nothing in the rest of the act prohibits parents from getting their kids to and from school in a manner they see fit, but has no bearing on what local districts do.”

    Factually this is true, but I’d leave it in anyway. It’s likely that the teachers (especially given their initial response) have a habit of mindless deference to anything that smacks of officialdom and bureaucracy, in which case this appeal to irrelevant authorities will help this mom get her way, even if logically it shouldn’t. It will also help show them what the parent wants isn’t as crazy and out there as they obviously think it is.

  5. Anna March 15, 2016 at 10:49 am #

    Also, I agree with those who say to leave out “I would like to,” and in the same line, I’d change “if you have any further questions or concerns” to just “if you have any questions” – after all, their concerns are neither here nor there, right?

  6. pentamom March 15, 2016 at 11:10 am #

    Anna, but then you run the risk of getting someone who actually does know what they’re doing, and will think you’re trying to snow them with a totally inapplicable bit of legal jargon. That could backfire.

  7. Workshop March 15, 2016 at 11:13 am #

    Well written.

  8. Craig March 15, 2016 at 11:19 am #

    Excellent post Stacey! Bullseye!

    This is emotional programming – Brainwashing and it comes from schooling and is further supported in the world by news and other fear based propaganda. Emotionally driven people are very predictable and easy to manipulate and will do whatever they are told, no matter how atrocious, to allay their emotional discomfort. (Actually, their conditioning will cause them to look for and seek out more ways in which their feelings are triggered. They are addicted to this. It is really quite funny to watch)

    Emotionally driven people have no access to their rational or trans-rational (intuitive or higher sources of information) faculties and therefore are incapable of making any kind of decision. So the lady who is writing the above is acting from her self-authority when those who are ‘feeling’ unsafe cannot act from the same place.

    Really a better solution would be for this woman, and everybody really, to take this child out of school and home school him. Schooling has nothing to do with building intelligence (if it were then why is there a need for after school literacy programs among other remedial constructs) No child should be in school past the age of 12. At this age kids are capable of knowing everything they need to enter university to study something practical if that is what they desire. Just have a conversation with a high school senior and a home schooled 12 year old. The home schooled exhibit differences in maturity levels and abilities to express themselves clearly, confidently and authoritatively that most ‘normal’ kids just can’t.

    The reason school is 12 years long is to install in people very specific responses to authority, and, that these authorities are anybody but themselves; teacher, perpetual parents, police, boss, co-worker, billboard, man on TV, best friend, stranger on the street. School indoctrinates that everybody else has the answers and that you can’t be smart enough yourself to have them.

    Before any parent sends their kids to school they should read John Taylor Gatto’s The Underground History of American Education and Charlotte Iserbyt’s The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America. they are available online. Look for their talks and interviews on youtube as well. That would be a good place to start.

    I love Lenore’s work and this blog but it is a much bigger topic then everybody thinks. It is a very deep rabbit hole and this is just the top of it.

  9. Eric March 15, 2016 at 11:20 am #

    Keep your list of approved means of transport open-ended, i.e., “or by other means as necessary,” so that some bean-counter doesn’t use it to limit his ability to take care of himself.

  10. Powers March 15, 2016 at 11:25 am #

    Leave out the bit about “Section 8542 of the ‘Every Student Succeeds Act.'”. If your state has laws that limit how a child can get to and from school, then the Every Student Succeeds Act does not preempt those laws. If your state does not have such laws, then the ESSA doesn’t apply. Either way, it’s irrelevant.

  11. Charlotte Gracer March 15, 2016 at 11:53 am #

    I think you covered it! Good work!

  12. BL March 15, 2016 at 12:07 pm #

    “And it wouldn’t be until about middle school that it would be appropriate.”

    I’m getting fairly sick of the word “appropriate”. As commonly used today, it adds nothing to the statements “we’re for it” or “we’re agin’ it”/

  13. Reziac March 15, 2016 at 12:22 pm #

    I’d leave the legal bit in. It gives the school an “out” so they feel like they can “blame the law” instead of thinking they might get blamed, which makes it more likely that they’ll back off.

    And — high five! You’re the Mom.

  14. Kevin Billings March 15, 2016 at 12:36 pm #

    I would not say that “I would like to”; Say instead, “I authorize…”

  15. Vaughan Evans March 15, 2016 at 12:44 pm #

    I will mention that when I was a kid in Vancouver, B.C. I often walked home at night-before I was 13. So did many pre-teen girls
    (I lived(and still)live in Vancouver, Canada.
    Vancouver had 375,000 people in 1945. Today it has 600,000

  16. EricS March 15, 2016 at 12:48 pm #

    “They had never dealt with that question and asked their higher-ups and came back to me saying nobody felt safe with him leaving on his own to go to the boys and girls club. And it wouldn’t be until about middle school that it would be appropriate.” LOL!! I’m picturing their faces as this question is posed. Think going back to the 1700’s and you pull out a flash light…in the dark.

    That is a great letter. I wouldn’t touch it. I also love the part where she included the “Every Student Succeeds Act”. It’s like sanctimonious and fearful people of authority, throwing around vague laws, and you trump it with an actual, specific federal law. Fight fire with fire. I still do believe that many of these vague policies and rules are perpetuated by fear of lawsuits.

  17. Katie March 15, 2016 at 1:05 pm #

    Perhaps I’d mention you have practiced the route with him?

    Now granted there is so much more I’m sure you and I would like to say to these car centric idiots, but I don’t think it will help!

  18. lollipoplover March 15, 2016 at 1:34 pm #

    “…nobody felt safe with him leaving on his own to go to the boys and girls club.”

    That’s not your problem. Families have the right to choose their own means of transportation and acceptable means of commuting. Walking is a completely reasonable way to travel to an after school club, likely with other kids who also attend and don’t want to sit on a *full* bus to go such a short distance.

    We ran into a similar problem last year with our then 8 year-old (Why this age?) when she wanted to bike home from school without her sister. She was biking with other kids, neighbors and friends, but the aide decided to *detain* her as she didn’t feel she should leave on her *own*. She held her until they called me to get my approval and the delay caused her to actually now have to bike on her own because all of her friends and neighbors left without her. They did this a total of 3 times before I called and asked why my dismissal instructions were not being followed. She is in the system as a walker/biker. She has perfect attendance. There is no stipulation that she needs an escort. Her form is filled out that she signs herself in/out. She has been biking to school since Kindergarten and can do it better than most adults and probably this aide who held her back for no good reason other than her own unease. They haven’t bothered her since.

    I like the letter, but think a short and direct discussion with the principal about your commuting decisions as a family is also a good idea. There’s no other kids at this school that walk over? Even with limited public transportation (full buses)??
    I get that they need something in writing but this should be as simple as checking a box under “walker” for dismissal, not having to explain that your kid at age 8 is capable and willing to travel independently short distances.

  19. Steve March 15, 2016 at 1:42 pm #

    It would be nice if you could hand them a copy of Lenore’s book, FREE RANGE KIDS, and say, “If you read this, you’ll understand why I’m doing what I’m doing. You could also email the principal some links to Lenore’s youtube videos.

  20. JulieH March 15, 2016 at 1:46 pm #

    Would they be more comfortable if they felt that the peak traffic of dismissal time was avoided some?

    At my children’s school, the kids who are walking home are released ahead of all other forms of transport so that they are clear of the area before the bus and cars leave. Then those riding the bus are released to the bus. The bus leaves. Then, and only then, are the car riders released to the parking lot. Perhaps they would feel better if he departed just a few minutes early to get headed on his way?

    Another option comes from when I was little…
    When I was little, I remember the kindergarten teacher was concerned the first day I said I was walking home – I had been riding the bus, but the weather had turned nice. I was the oldest, and Mom didn’t think to send a note or call the school. That sweet, young, unmarried teacher didn’t call my mom, didn’t hold me hostage. Instead she had me wait a few minutes, then walked home with me. She didn’t realize that I only lived 0.25 miles from the school. She saw that I knew the proper way to walk on a country road (dad worked on the school buses, so I would sometimes walk down to the school where the bus barn was to let him know supper was ready…or walk home when I got bored of watching him work). She said hi to my mom, and she asked if it would be ok with my mom if I waited until the buses left the parking lot before I started home. Mom said she would prefer it that way herself. Perhaps the school would feel better if he sat and read a book for a few minutes until the worst of the car traffic cleared out? If this school is anything like the public middle school, it doesn’t take long for things to mostly clear out.

    As a side note, take your kids out on some country roads and teach them how to navigate on foot! So many “city” kids don’t know what to do when there isn’t a sidewalk, let alone even a shoulder to speak of. That is one of the things I do with my Girl Scout troop. The new kids to the troop are always clueless of what to do.

  21. Jana March 15, 2016 at 2:48 pm #

    Well, our son’s school is a “walk to school” institution, so I guess in this matter we are rather lucky. But still – he is among a very few who does so every single day. PTA even started an event called a “walk to school day”, which is practiced one day per month during school year (“harsh” winter months excluded). Not big success. Crazy… I like the letter, though, and good luck!

  22. Marybeth March 15, 2016 at 2:52 pm #

    Hi Charlene –

    I’m in San Diego too and my son’s swim team operates out of a Boys & Girls Club so I’m familiar with the club and with San Diego. On the part about “bus/shuttle/van” did you mean one operated by the B&G Club or did you mean a City of San Diego Muni vehicle.

    I hope the adults in his life remember they are the village and not the constables. And I hope some day he gets a buddy to travel with him. Free-Range was not meant to be a lonely existence but it sure can be sometimes when other parents won’t let their kids join your son in walking places.

    Best of luck – You have a good idea.

  23. hineata March 15, 2016 at 3:05 pm #

    I think that letter’s brilliant ☺. I too would say ‘I give’ as opposed to ‘I would like to give’….but otherwise I think it looks fine.

    Maybe I should be getting y’all’s opinion on permission slips….I have to write one for my 16 year old! Different scenario of course but still mildly irritating. Her very dear tutor teacher (a bit like a homeroom teacher except she’s had the same one for 6 years, a wonderful grandmother woman) rang last night to check whether we were OK with El Sicko doing a mountain hike on her geo trip next week. This particular trek starts from an elevation of about a thousand metres (3200 feet) and you hike to about 1900m (6000? feet) in two to three hours, it’s an occasionally active volcano, and the weather is obviously very changeable so there are a few potential dangers doing it….

    So, I wasn’t that concerned about the phone call. What did get me a little annoyed was the insistent questions about whether we as parents would take full responsibility if something ‘awful’ happened (as a result of her unusual medical conditions and the fact that on a mountain there are no doctors handy ☺). I assured her that we would – though she’s more likely to die from mundane things like exposure or slipping off the side somewhere, like the rest of the populace. I also think that it should be El Sicko’s choice anyway…she’s medically emancipated already, and can vote toward the end of next year.

    How do you word a letter though (we have to back it up in writing, of course) that states that you will not take legal action against the school if your kid dies? It sounds a bit blunt to write ‘It is my teen’s choice to do this walk, and to die if that’s her time’ but that’s roughly what it amounts to.

    Good luck with your’s, Charlene.

  24. Joanne March 15, 2016 at 3:51 pm #

    Have you considered filing a complaint with your state dept of education? Charter Schools are still Public Schools with oversight by state Dept of Ed – even if there is no specific language in state Ed law/guidelines addressing the situation, you may be able to get a decision from them on the issue which may work out well especially if most schools/Districts in your area have no issue with similar situations

    Remember, Charter Schools have waivers enabling them to hire Teachers who are not certified and staff who don’t necessarily have appropriate experience/qualifications for their positions – a lot of times they don’t know what they are doing (what you said about staff needing to consult upper level administration brought this to mind)

    My older children attend a Charter School because our home District is so poorly ranked that certain colleges wouldn’t consider acceptance for graduates (lowest 20% in rankings for Districts in our state) – Charter Schools have drawbacks and benefits – a major drawback can be that they are run more like private clubs with baseless and/or ridiculous policies and a lot of not knowing what they are doing – if our Home District wasn’t so bad, our kids wouldn’t be in a Charter School

    Good Luck with your situation and good for you for standing your ground – I do agree with other commenters that if you go the letter route, you should revise language to reflect more definitive, assertive tone

  25. LauraL March 15, 2016 at 3:52 pm #

    Brava, mama!!!!

  26. Diana March 15, 2016 at 4:50 pm #

    When I was eight we simply exited the building after the last (glorious) bell and walked home. When did it change?

    In New York State, across the country from where this Mom writes, we have Suffolk County which pays a private organization $780,000 a year to keep kids like her son safe from the predators lurking behind every bush. Which are figments of over active legislative imaginations, according to a growing body of well-documented research.

    Who’s in charge?
    When did we lose the right to let our kids run free?
    We blew it when we voted for state law makers who think they can do a better job of raising our kids than we can. We abrogated our rights.
    In NYState, a senate majority leader, famous for telling patents how dangerous it is to let kids walk home alone, has been convicted of felony corruption along with his only child, a son. A father who told us for twenty years how endangered our kids were. And passed laws that resulted in kids and teenagers facing life in “the list”, often for minor offenses which a few years before were not even punishable as crimes.
    Meanwhile he was raising a son of his own, a child who showed great early promise. He
    led his own child into a life of crime. Both father and son are due to be sentenced this month, to as much as 130 years for corruption. Our (finer) hero.

    Whom can we trust in raising our kids? Ourselves! Let’s keep the government and the School Authorities out of it.

    Let’s take child rearing back into parental hands. Loving hands.

  27. Warren March 15, 2016 at 4:53 pm #

    Great job not caving to the school. Word of advice, take command with your words and tone, instead of asking. Telling them what you are doing instead of seeking permission. Better to come from a place of strength than one of weakness, so to speak.

    Best of luck.

  28. Donald March 15, 2016 at 5:09 pm #

    The safety movement is not exclusively to children. It’s at breaking point in the workforce as well. Safety officers need something to do. This is the same as the news. The media has to fill up their time slot.

    Safety officers have to keep making changes to ‘improve safety’. They can never stop doing this. They have to implement more safety rules regardless of how ridiculous they are. I have a friend that’s a teacher. She’s not allowed to put up posters in her classroom higher than she can reach. She’s not authorized to use a ladder or step stool. Even if the step stool is only 2 feet high, she’s not allowed to use it. That’s because all employees MUST keep 3 points of contact at all times. (2 feet and one hand on a rail or 2 hands and one foot)

    If she wants a poster on her wall she has to get maintenance to hang it for her. All places of employment have ridiculous safety rules. They are all different but they have one common thing about them. They make people roll their eyes, shake their heads, and get treated as if they are too stupid and helpless to do anything. In some companies, office staff have to go through the ‘stapler training’ before they are allowed to us a stapler!

    In the movie, ‘The Big Short’ Ben Rickert (Brad Pitt) said that 40,000 people die when unemployment goes up by 1%. I don’t know how accurate that is. However, unemployment helps to cause lot’s of things. Divorce, suicide, and domestic violence increases with unemployment and fewer people can afford hospital beds. This leads me to the question. Does the overabundance of safety rules make us safer when they are forcing us to be inefficient in the workforce?

    However it’s important to have stapler training otherwise employees may accidentally staple their hand.

  29. Warren March 15, 2016 at 5:14 pm #

    Donald

    I once had a safety officer write me up for not wearing my fall arrest harness. I was 8 feet off the ground, and the static chord doesnt stop me until 10 feet. Stupid thing was management upheld his ruling.

  30. CLamb March 15, 2016 at 5:46 pm #

    The letter seems to be written in a way that concedes the school has primary responsibility over the child. I would’ve started it out something like, “You are forbidden to detain my child…”

  31. Donald March 15, 2016 at 6:09 pm #

    Management – Insurance cost are astronomical! We have to reduce workman compensation claims by making the employees hyper-vigilant about safety. We must do everything that we can to cover every base.

    Employee – No matter how hard that the management tries to cover every base, they can’t cover them all. I’m hyper-vigilant about safety. I can find any base not yet covered by safety regulations. Because of my training, I’m better at finding these things than Sherlock Holmes! If an accident happens, I’ll find fault in the company safety policy no matter how slight.

    This is a paradox

  32. Donald March 15, 2016 at 6:18 pm #

    Warren

    Employers are desperate to have things in writing. Near miss investigations, safety infractions, (not wearing a fall harness) and training (written tests) Whether they make sense or not is irrelevant. If they don’t collect lots of safety paperwork, they are seen as not doing their job to increase safety and their insurance goes up.

  33. Kim Kinzie March 15, 2016 at 6:36 pm #

    You go Charlene! i’m so happy to hear you stood up for your son’s right to be treated as a competent individual. Hopefully the school will wake up and change their mindset…and other parents will join you.

  34. Dave March 15, 2016 at 6:53 pm #

    I agree with Melanie. You are asserting a right here. I’d substitute “I hereby authorize my child…” Let them know this is official and no-nonsense.

  35. Donald March 15, 2016 at 7:06 pm #

    According to one meta-analysis of 42 studies involving 20 million people, the risk of death increases 63% when you lose your job. Some of this risk is attributable to the negative health effects of stress and poverty, some of this is due to crappy health behaviors that are more common with poverty and unemployment (bad diet, smoking, booze, drugs).

    I think about this whenever I have sit through a daily 1 hour safety meeting at work. I then go home, turn on the news and listen to all the businesses that are moving overseas.

  36. Jennie March 15, 2016 at 9:28 pm #

    Good on you for not rolling over!

    I encountered a similar situation when I enrolled my then fourth grader in the school district summer camp for a couple of weeks. The difference was that I’d given my “written” permission, which the staff proceeded to ignore, and then bring law enforcement in.

    Prior to camp, there was, of course, the small mountain of paperwork, which I dutifully completed. Included was a statement to check and sign, or not, that permission was given for my child to walk home. Well, of course it was — we only live eight-tenths of a mile away, through residential neighborhood. Full disclosure: my son is on the spectrum, but is very high-functioning. The responsibility of reasonable freedom has done nothing but good for his confidence and maturity. He also carries an old cellphone kitted out with calls only, if he should ever feel the need for one of us to be there (he’s only ever used it to ask permission to walk to houses of friends).

    On one of the first days, I needed to bring in a form for an extra field trip, so I decided to pick him up. The staff told me that he had left, and that two staff members were out in the neighborhood, chasing him.

    “Um… chasing him?”

    “Yes, well, he said he was going to walk home.”

    “There should be no problem with that, right? I signed off on the permission form for him to do that.”

    “Well, we’ve *never* had a student walk home. It’s not safe.”

    “Can I see his paperwork, please?”

    And she pulled out his file, and I pointed directly to the checkbox and my signature.

    “Yes, I see that. But kids just don’t walk home here. It’s not safe.”

    “…Why is it an option on this form, then? I don’t understand.”

    “I don’t know. I just know that it doesn’t ever happen.”

    “I live a handful of blocks away. He’s been walking home from school the same distance for a year now!”

    “What if you’re not home when he gets there? What happens then?”

    “Either my husband and I are *always* at home waiting for him!”

    “Well, you’re not right now, are you?”

    “I would be back home if I weren’t standing here *arguing with you!*”

    At this point, I was gobsmacked and rapidly turning a violent shade of crimson. One of the pursuers called, and requested that I go and help. After driving around a bit, I located him at our neighborhood high school (where we often play as a family), but, feeling abjectly persecuted, he’d gone into his unhappy place and wasn’t having any of it. I decided just to stick with him until he was able to calm down enough to return home (one block away — again, we live in a fairly pastoral suburb).

    Nope. District policy, apparently, is to involve public safety if a child can’t be “controlled.” Needless to say, that was a traumatic experience for everyone. We were lucky to deal with an officer who had a son on the spectrum, as well, and was understanding of my son’s mannerisms and reactions.

    He attended a couple more days, when the director recognized his right to walk home, but his heart wasn’t in it after that.

    That incident is what led me to this site. Incidentally.

  37. Lynnie Neal March 15, 2016 at 10:52 pm #

    I would say, I authorize my child to, instead of “I would like to authorize my child, because that shows that you know him best. Secondly, I’d suggest that you’d include that you practiced the route with him until he was familiar with it, and covered all possible scenarios, as well. Thirdly, you could also say that you have also ensured that someone who both of you are familiar with will meet him at the Boys & Girls Club. That should make them agree to what you want, and allow him to go there without argument. I hope this helps.

  38. Sam March 15, 2016 at 11:15 pm #

    That’ outrageous.I want to fulfill my responsibility as a parent by looking after and taking care of an underage child whose brain is scientifically in development process.
    I see it an escape from parental responsibility.I mean you just want to leave this child unattended and deserted.what in this world tell you that it is a wise decision.independence doesnot mean putting a child in dangerous situation.Murphy law does exist.

  39. ValerieH March 15, 2016 at 11:34 pm #

    Great job! I agree with the “I authorize” advice. Leave the legal stuff in there to give the school an out.
    When I was a kid, I walked to school, home for lunch, back to school and then home after school completely on my own, in CHICAGO in the 70’s when crime rates were higher. I had a key to the house an amy parents were at work. My sister an I had to make our own lunches and be responsible enough to be back to school on time.

  40. Vicki Bradley March 16, 2016 at 8:59 am #

    @Sam
    You don’t get what this website is about, do you? You need to start by reading the paragraph in the upper right corner of this page, which starts: “Fighting the belief that our children are in constant danger…”

    @Jennie
    I was so sad reading what happened to your son. After all your hard work of instilling in him a sense of independence and competence, that ridiculous day camp scared it out of him in one fell swoop. If I were you, I would have had a few choice words to say to all involved. Hopefully, your son will forget about that horrible incident and revert to his previous sense of competence and self-confidence.

  41. Connie D March 16, 2016 at 10:13 am #

    What a great idea! In our district, a student can’t even leave MIDDLE SCHOOL without being signed out/checked out and physically appearing in the office to show ID. I applaud you for making this move with your third grader. We had a “walk to school day” for the nearby elementary school, and none of the parents were comfortable having their fourth and fifth graders walk with a big group of kids.

  42. lollipoplover March 16, 2016 at 10:39 am #

    “We had a “walk to school day” for the nearby elementary school, and none of the parents were comfortable having their fourth and fifth graders walk with a big group of kids.”

    That is horrifying. And what these parents who aren’t comfortable with walking *alone* don’t realize is that age doesn’t automatically give these kids the skill set to walk independently-it’s a learned behavior. Waiting until middle school to learn is a recipe for disaster or a lifetime on anxiety medication. More and more kids *need* their parents to take them everywhere because they are too afraid (learned behavior) to do it alone. College should be really fun for these kids. SO sad.

  43. Pete March 16, 2016 at 1:33 pm #

    I understand the desire to give them a letter as CYA, but part of me wants to word it the other way:

    “To whom it may concern,

    This letter is intended to clarify that no school district employee has the authority to detain my child after school hours. I have not granted anyone within the school that authority, and you do not have my approval to do so now or in the future.

    I hope that this clarification will help avoid further infringement on my son’s right to freedom of movement. Should you attempt to unlawfully detain my child in the future, I will pursue criminal charges.”

    Any comments about how they don’t feel it’s safe should be met with the sharp rebuke: “Your feelings in no way trump my child’s rights or my parental authority.”

  44. Craig March 16, 2016 at 1:58 pm #

    @Pete

    That’s not bad. Although the bit at the end about criminal charges should be left off. Emotionally reactive people will see threat and over-react. Also it carries a tone of anger. The rest is simply matter of fact. But when using words that can be interpreted as anger, this often is seen as overcompensation and powerlessness.

    The bit about Feelings is great. But I might say that their feelings are not relevant and are a matter between you and your therapist.

    In the real world I carry a stack of business cards of a friend who is a very good therapist. When confronted by a person who is offended whose has ‘feelings’ about something or is uncomfortable (another pet peeve word) I hand them a card and tell them that my friend can really help them with that problem.

    Also people might get an argument that whatever stupidity they are trying to force is ‘policy’. Policy is not law. Policy in this context is irrelevant. The only people who want to strongly enforce policy are those whose tiny little egos have a stake in being identified with that policy. Policy being disobeyed is a personal threat to themselves.

    A word about comfort. It is really funny when people use the word ‘uncomfortable’ in situations like these. When did comfort become the highest state to aspire to? And when did their DIS-comfort become the most horrible thing that must be avoided at all costs? I say that comfort is death. When people seek comfort the are seeking stasis, stagnation, lack of challenge and growth. Everything in life, in the world, grows all the time. If one is seeking comfort they are looking to stay stuck and not be challenged in a way that causes them to grow. They seek death.

  45. Donna March 16, 2016 at 3:34 pm #

    “We had a “walk to school day” for the nearby elementary school, and none of the parents were comfortable having their fourth and fifth graders walk with a big group of kids.”

    We have a large walking community at our school, and I can count on one hand and have fingers left over the number of 4th and 5th graders who walk by themselves. Almost every single kid, except mine and maybe one or two others, is escorted to school by an adult. Kids who live right across the street from the school? Escorted by mom or dad. Kids who don’t even have to cross a single street to get to the school? Escorted by mom or dad.

    And it is so sad how little confidence parents have in their own kids. I get comments all the time about how great it is that my daughter is so capable and how they wish their children could be so self-possessed to get themselves to and from school by themselves – which is often said right in front of their children. My kid is great and all, but it isn’t rocket science. It is just biking a couple blocks.

  46. Craig March 16, 2016 at 4:02 pm #

    ” Kids who don’t even have to cross a single street to get to the school? Escorted by mom or dad.

    And it is so sad how little confidence parents have in their own kids.”

    In my experience this isn’t so much a lack of confidence in their kids, but much more about how parents view their own importance in making their kids perfect – an over-inflated sense of self-importance, where unless they are devoting every waking moment to supervising everything their kids are doing, they are bad parents. If they are not hovering, either something bad will happen, or they will feel bad about themselves. This is parental narcissism. So the real motive is how they will feel about themselves, their own ‘Feelings’ (That word again)

    Notice how conversations between parents are so often competitive? Everybody is trying to out-special the other.

    further to this competitive nature, parents also hover, or escort their kids because they are afraid that if they don’t other parents will think they are bad parents, or worse, not PERFECT parents. Have to keep up that artificial sense of self-pride. Pathological parental narcissism. And the kids suffer and likely will become narcissists themselves. Just look at kids in universities these days.. Yipes.

  47. lollipoplover March 16, 2016 at 4:15 pm #

    @Donna-
    I was driving home today and saw my daughter at a distance biking home from school (she was by herself). I stopped the car and watched her (there was no traffic behind me). She biked up to my car and asked me if there was something wrong with my car that I stopped. She is dumbfounded that I would just sit in the car and watch!

    She was more worried that someone might think that *I* was a creeper watching kids than she would ever be in danger for biking. So strange, this world.

  48. Matthew March 16, 2016 at 9:05 pm #

    “They did say they cannot legally tell me he cannot leave, but they wanted me to put something in writing.” if that is the case, don’t put anything in writing. There is no requirement to put something in writing, it is just a CYA action by the school. Tell them how your child will leave school and that you expect them to honor your wishes.

  49. Warren March 16, 2016 at 10:09 pm #

    Actually after reading it again, I agree with Matthew. Don’t give them a letter. Just tell them. If they want to put “walker” on her file, so that staff knows, then they can do it.

    But you are under no obligation to make your child’s walking home a legal matter for them.

  50. Diana March 16, 2016 at 11:23 pm #

    I used to live in a crappy city for the majority of my elementary years. Teachers did not let us go home until they saw a parent so I was pleasantly surprised when my parents moved us to the suburbs, and our teachers didn’t even walk us down to the door. We were allowed to go as we please. Your letter sounds great. It really depends on the neighborhood, and your child’s awareness.

  51. jeffrey March 22, 2016 at 9:35 am #

    Here in Germany we can only laugh about this. When I was six, my parents let me walk the four hundred meters to the school alone. One of my classmates even came with the bus. There was no parent or teacher or whatsoever who said that this is irresponsible.

  52. Steve March 22, 2016 at 11:02 am #

    The school is terrified that they will be held liable and sued into oblivion if something happens to a child who leaves by themselves.

    Thats probably why you don’t get this kind of thing in any other country or culture; only in the USA is liability and being sued such a gigantic, show-stopping issue.

  53. Dan March 22, 2016 at 3:17 pm #

    The citation should be:
    20 U.S.C. § 7922.

    You should insert a hyperlink to an actual government site, like this one: http://goo.gl/ALVtOD. (For the record, as other commenters have noted, this provision does not actually say that “you have the right to decide how your kid gets to school.” It only says that the federal government isn’t going to regulate your kid’s behavior in this regard. Still, leave it in because it is persuasive.)

    I’m an attorney. This isn’t legal advice, but I love the note, and I anticipate I’ll have to use something similar for my kids.