How Do You Change a Lily-Livered School?

Hi aaaebnehkk
Readers — Here’s another plea from a Free-Ranger trapped in a helicoptering vise. Do you have any suggestions that have worked at your school? Please share them! — L.

Dear Free-Range Kids: Something terrible has happened at our school.

I wrote to you a while ago about how wonderfully free our village kids are.  Things are changing….. and not for the better.

My children are 7 and 9.  I live 1 mile from school, and our route takes us through a nature reserve, so no traffic and no road crossings necessary.
I have been taking baby steps towards letting my children walk to/from school.  I started by walking the children to school and then I started leaving the children at the school boundary approximately 50 meters from the school gates, they then walked over the boundary line by themselves.

That’s as far as I got…. they walked 50 meters unattanded (but I watched them).

I have received a letter from the school explaining that children have to be taken to and picked up from the school gate. I challenged the school on this rule, and asked them why.  They said, “It’s not worth the risk, SOMETHING TERRIBLE COULD HAPPEN.”  Though they would not spell out what that something terrible could be, and neither has anything ever happened before.

The head master also indicated to me that other parents had been reported to social services for allowing their children to walk to school by themselves.

Please note that the majority of the children live within a mile of the school, and we really do live in quite a safe village.

What can I do? Are they really allowed to dictate to me how my children get to and from school? — Rachel

P.S. I have heard that this has nothing to do with insurance!

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50 Responses to How Do You Change a Lily-Livered School?

  1. Alexander November 16, 2010 at 12:21 pm #

    Tell them you agree that your kids must be protected from dangerous adults, and that you will therefore be removing them from the school, since it is run by far more dangerous adults than they are likely to meet on the street.

  2. Obi-Wandreas November 16, 2010 at 12:29 pm #

    My suggestion would be to have your opinion on the matter politely and clearly explained to them in a letter from your lawyer, including what your reaction might be if you find that they have filed a false complaint.

  3. Anthony Hernandez November 16, 2010 at 12:34 pm #

    1) Research the law and make sure you are not in violation. Then let them call Child Protective Services if they want.

    2) Write a letter to the school explaining that your children will be coming to and from school on their own. Cite the law and statistics about kids walkinh vs. cars, predation, etc. to demonstrate that the kids being escorted are the ones at real risk. Absolve the school of any liability for any consequence of your decision.

    3) If this persists, inform the school that they have ZERO control over what happens beyond their borders and beyond school hours. They can either defer to your parental rights or face legal consequences.

    4) Never give up. NEVER surrender!

  4. Meagan November 16, 2010 at 1:07 pm #

    Judging by “head master” and “meters” I’m guessing you aren’t in the US? It’s hard to give advice on what you can do or have to do without knowing where you are (and by that I mean even if I knew where you were I wouldn’t KNOW it since I don’t live there if you see what I mean). If you are in the UK though, there seem to have been a lot of publicity lately on overprotective rules for children, so maybe getting local media on the story could help?

  5. Maya November 16, 2010 at 1:31 pm #

    I would start getting other parents together and start a movement – what you need is a culture change, where kids walking to school is completely normal & accepted. So get other parents on board – even if it means taking turns supervising a group of kids (they call it a walking school bus) at first while the culture changes. Eventually you’ll reach a tipping point. And when you have more parents on board, approach the school and work out a reasonable policy. (Here, it’s in 3rd grade that they can walk or bike unaccompanied – though it doesn’t have to be an adult that’s with them, a sibling or friend will do.)

  6. Uly November 16, 2010 at 1:32 pm #

    Anthony’s advice is exactly what I was about to suggest, word by word and letter by letter.

    I’d also suggest that you get back-up – find out the ages/years that other schools in your area allow children to leave without being picked up, and under what circumstances (can they be picked up by an older child? do you have to write a note or sign a waiver allowing this?), find out what ages children are allowed to be on public transportation unaccompanied in your area, that sort of thing.

    It’s not impossible that social services will avoid giving you a straight answer, so having information from a variety of sources which indicates what reasonable adults in your area consider children capable of moving about freely is *always* helpful.

  7. Alexander November 16, 2010 at 2:39 pm #

    Of course, whatever you do, you should talk to your kids first. It’s their lives, and ought to be their decision.

  8. Matt November 16, 2010 at 2:41 pm #

    Assuming we’re talking about the US…if it’s a private school there’s nothing you can do about it other than vote with your feet. If it’s a public school, they have to be subject to public scrutiny with respect to policies, they must produce the written policy they’re enforcing for you. If such a thing really does exist, your next stop is the school board. Recruiting other parents at PTA meetings, etc. is always useful.

    If it’s not the US, can’t offer any advice here.

  9. Lola November 16, 2010 at 4:54 pm #

    I’m more on Maya’s side, getting more parents together rather than facing the system on your own. I would start by gossiping with other parents, perhaps hitting the school-is-questioning-our-parental-authority-this-is-outrageous button, so that other parents line up with you without questioning the matter much. From my experience, the first one who cries “fascism!” normally wins the debate. No matter what debate. Sad, but true.
    Of course, there’s no need to get so confrontational. There’s another, slower way. Talk with the neighbours and start getting big gaggles of children together walking to and from school, with just one adult with them (taking turns, so that everyone is involved and sees that there’s really no danger). In a few months, when the adult bodyguards get tired of getting unnecessarily cold and wet and tired of keeping up with noisy kids on the way to school, start to suggest that maybe it’s not such a big deal that children get to school on their own. “After all, they’re quite a bunch, and we’ve seen there’s no danger, and if there’s trouble we’re just around the corner”, etc, etc.

  10. enyawface November 16, 2010 at 5:46 pm #

    Don’t know what the laws are in your location, but have u ever considered home schooling? Then you also have a say in what your child is taught. Were I live they have neighborhood “community home schools” where one of the mothers gets certified to home school and the other mothers then send their children to her so that they can get a better education while mom goes off to work, or just simply gets the house clean and runs her errands. In some neighborhoods, more than one mom gets certified and then they take turns.

  11. Undomiel27 November 16, 2010 at 7:43 pm #

    Sometimes, the school’s motivation has to do with their fear of lawsuits if something were to happen to a child.

    A school in which I used to work required that parents/caregivers come into the school at dismissal time to sign the child out before the child would be released to them. In that way there was a written record of who had picked up the child if there were ever to be a problem (also a record of whether the child had been picked up at all).

    That same school also had a question on their emergency contact form asking whether a child was allowed by the parent to travel to and from school without adult supervision. The parent could check “yes” or “no”. In this way, if something happened to the child en route, the school had a written consent form from the parent on file and could not be held liable.

  12. tanya November 16, 2010 at 8:23 pm #

    I don’t get this business with schools not being “allowed” to dismiss children without parental supervision. Yesterday when I picked up my daughter at school one of the principals told me that my daughter wanted to walk home on her own, but that she couldn’t let her without a permission slip from me. (My daughter does not actually want to walk home from school by herself as it turns out.)

    Whatever happened to “bell rings, school’s out!” and the school just flings open the doors and let the kids out? Don’t most schools operate that way?

    Do schools really feel they must be accountable for every child’s whereabouts upon dismissal? That’s crazy. And what do you do in schools where there are hundreds of kids?

    And to have parents reported to social services for letting their kids walk home from school alone!! That takes my breath away.

  13. Laura Vellenga November 16, 2010 at 8:57 pm #

    sunshine is the best disinfectant. obviously it depends on how big of a stink you want to create of this, but the more people know about this via the most possible media, the more likely it is that such a position is retracted.

  14. SheetWise November 16, 2010 at 9:40 pm #

    Chain-of-custody issues? *IF* something goes wrong, whose fault is it? It’s a bit like leaving for the theater when the babysitter hasn’t yet arrived — but she did call and said she’d be there in ten minutes … whose fault if the babysitter never arrives and something goes wrong? Yours.

    I realize nobody needs to be at fault, but … lawyers insist upon it. Legally we want a well defined chain-of-custody.

  15. coffeegod November 16, 2010 at 9:49 pm #

    As other have said:

    – Research local & state law regarding the issue
    – Have a meeting with the principle
    – Have a meeting with the district supervisor
    – Go to the school board meeting and get loud but polite
    – When all else fails, law firm letterhead is a miracle worker

    Stick to your guns, babe. They are kids, not a Ming vase. If you trust your children and the values you’ve instilled, go for it.

  16. RobynHeud November 16, 2010 at 11:13 pm #

    @Tanya, that’s how I remember school. Bell rings and school’s out. I spent most afternoons walking the 1 to 2 miles home, mostly because my mom forgot to pick me up (there were four other kids in the family, none of them at the same school at the same time) especially if I stayed late. If the school had insisted on contacting my mom or dad before I could leave, I would have had to stay at school a long time with some very unhappy teacher. Sometimes I really do think cell phones are to blame for this. We operate under the mentality that we should always be able to get a hold of someone and if for some reason they’re not answering their phone, something must be horribly wrong. I think it’s be interesting to see if and how the rules have changed for that elementary school.

  17. pentamom November 16, 2010 at 11:40 pm #

    Even if “chain of custody” were a valid concern for 7 and 9 year old kids walking to school, the chain is not violated if you see the kids walk across the boundary onto school property. Once the kids are on school property, they are in “school custody” as much as they’re ever going to be, assuming that the school actually has adults around to make sure kids aren’t wandering lost around the school property (and given their hyperprotectiveness, I think that’s a safe assumption.)

  18. John Paulson November 17, 2010 at 12:31 am #

    There could be lions or tigers or bears in the nature perserve!

    OH MY!

  19. therese November 17, 2010 at 12:36 am #

    get security officers to walk your kids to school if you can’t!…UGH!

  20. Kayleigh November 17, 2010 at 12:49 am #

    Do your research into the law and school policies and then work to advocate change if needed.

    I know that “chain of custody” is frustrating and goes against free-range philosophy but when it is ingrained in the law I feel the best thing to do is operate within the law as best you can while advocating change to those laws.

    Remember the beauty of democracy is supposed to be that governments and laws are the voice of the people.

  21. Jewels November 17, 2010 at 12:50 am #

    Anthony gives good, sound advice.

    The most important thing is to STAY CALM and BE INFORMED. Know your rights inside and out and repeat them politely but firmly whenever someone challenges you. It’s also a good idea to have some statistics and facts on hand.

    I’ve found that if you take the tact of “We are trying to foster strength and independence in our children and we feel that this is a good way to do it. In addition to exercising their maturity, allowing my children to walk to school puts them in the habit of exercising every morning. This is a healthy ritual that we hope to encourage them to continue for the rest of their lives.”

    Your headmaster is coming at this from a position of fear and negativity. The best way to combat that is through calm strength and a positive attitude.

    Take care, and keep us informed!

  22. EricS November 17, 2010 at 1:00 am #

    I agree with Anthony and Jewels. One can also ask social services how empowering children with knowledge, confidence, and trust be a bad thing, especially when you can see still see them entering the school. One can even contest them and ask which is more detrimental to children, teaching them to be self sufficient or teaching them to fear and have no knowledge of how to deal with certain situations. That would be a no brainer. lol.

    But it really is about the school and accountability. As many of us have said before, institutions are too afraid of lawsuits from opportunistic parents, and are just covering their collective asses. In some ways you can’t blame them. But at the same time, they make it about them and not about the kids.

    Hopefully, like minded parents can get together and put things back the way they were for that community.

  23. MrPopularSentiment November 17, 2010 at 1:18 am #

    My advice would be to not go it alone. Find other like-minded parents and have your kids walk to school together – without adults around.

    Reporting one parent to social services is easy. Reporting 3-4? Much harder!

  24. Anthony Hernandez November 17, 2010 at 1:33 am #

    Another thing… tell EVERYONE what you’re up to. Find neighbors, friends, relatives, etc. who back you up 100%. Then, if CPS does make a stink about it, you will have plenty of witnesses to testify on your behalf. Me, they’ll need to install a turnstile and call ’em by number.

    Focus on the benefits. For example, I have lost count of the camp counselors, teachers, shop owners, people on the street, neighbors, etc. who say that my son is extremely mature and independent for his age and able to make sound decisions.

    – A little exercise in the morning results in a more awake kid who will do better in school.

    – A more mature and streetwise kid is by definition a much harder target for the few people who would do her or him harm.

    – A helipad kid who gets into a strange situation is in FAR MORE danger than a free-range kid. For example, if my son and I get separated, he will probably either call me or go into a store and ask them to call me, or even take himself home without any fuss at all. A smothered kid in a similar situation? Hmm…

    – A kid who is allowed to make her or his own decisions and own her or his own safety is probably far less likely to do something really stupid later on in life that could resut in harm to themselves or others.

    – A kid who has learned to deal with society on her or his own, which includes standing up for themselves when mommy and daddy are not around (which includes respecting others and learning the golden rule on a visceral level) is less likely to commit crime or get into other kinds of trouble.

    My attitude toward parents who oppose free-range parenting methods is, “Please by all means keep hovering over your kid; my son is going to run or manage a business someday and will need mindless, servile employees like your kid!”

  25. Marty November 17, 2010 at 1:50 am #

    homeschool op;onents roll their eyes, but the only advocates of children being independent (that I see) are homeschooling and montessori schools. unfortunately, montessori can be costly and it’s not common throughout the country.

    otherwise, kids in public schools are subjected to dogs sniffing them, random locker checks, book back searches, etc. ridiculous. these kids growing up, being treated like criminals, will have no problem treating us like criminals.

  26. Nicola November 17, 2010 at 2:01 am #

    If I were you, I’d get ready for a fight.

    As many others have said, it’s hard if you’re not in the US since a lot of us are speaking from that perspective.

    I know here, the school doesn’t get to tell me what to do with my children when they are not on school grounds. I am their parent, not the principal (headmaster) nor their teachers nor the school district. Unless they want to start helping me out with my grocery bill, my kid’s clothing bills, their birthday parties, my gas for my car, and other things that involve making my child happy, healthy, fed and clothed.

    I’d find out what the statistics are in your country first for child abduction. Here, it’s more likely that a child will get hit by lightning than it is for a complete stranger to snatch them – roughly 400 to 100 times a year, respectively.

    Second, I’d talk to CPS and determine what the law is – not what they think is best or what they suggest, but what the actual law says about your kids walking to school. If it’s not against the law, you’ve got no worries.

    Third, write your nosy headmaster and provide him statistics, provide him the law, and let him know that unless he’s willing to pitch in for helping to raise your child, you’ll determine what is best for your kids until they arrive on school grounds, at which time, you’ll trust in their judgment to keep them safe until the final bell rings and they are once more your responsibility.

    Best of luck to you and don’t back down. Change is never made by being quiet.

  27. dmd November 17, 2010 at 2:07 am #

    Tanya brings up a good point. When exactly did the bells ring, children leave the building change? I guess when more parents started working so there was no one home? I did go home to an empty house beginning in…let me think…7th grade? I can’t remember. Prior to that, we lived with my grandparents and someone was always home. I guess when some parents started wanting afterschool care, it slowly became an issue. And I don’t have a problem with afterschool care. Our school is several miles away at the moment and it would be difficult for my 8 year old to get home – buses are not at all direct from the school community to ours. Plus, without some hounding, my son would not get homework done

    I think this all is a process. It took time for us to get from kids running out of the school to after-care/change of command. And it will take time for Free Range to capture mass imagination and change back. But I think it will. I don’t think we’ll ever lose after care and that’s a good thing, but I think this is becoming more open little by little. When I mention leaving my son alone or letting him go somewhere alone, more parents are agreeing with me.

    On another note, wow – I can see why parents are afraid. I was at a convention recently and had downtime to turn on the TV in the afternoon. Is Nancy Grace on 24/7? It seemed she was on every time I turned on the TV and every single thing she talked about was a missing child! What is that woman’s problem? Did someone abandon her as a child?

  28. delurking November 17, 2010 at 2:24 am #

    At all of the schools in my area there are lines of cars, that stretch out into the road, dropping kids off. Any kid who walks to school can simply hitchhike, and hop in a car to get a ride across the school property line.

    They can thereby neatly follow the letter of the rule while thumbing their noses at the spirit.

  29. Donna November 17, 2010 at 2:58 am #

    Putting my lawyer hat on –

    There is not, nor will there ever be, a law that says “it’s illegal for children to walk to school unaccompanied by an adult before 10 years old” or similar. The law in this area is just not that specific. That does not mean that you are free from prosecution. If a prosecutor believes that a child is in danger by walking to school, he can bring charges under any number of statutes that could be construed to fit the situation – child endangerment, cruelty to children, reckless conduct, contributing to the deprivation of a minor.

    For example, reckless conduct in my state is defined as “endangering the bodily safety of another person by consciously disregarding a substantial and unjustifiable risk that his act or omission will cause harm or endanger the safety of the other person and the disregard constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care which a reasonable person would exercise in the situation….”

    While WE would all agree that letting children of 7 and 9 walk to school does not pose a “substantial and unjustifiable risk,” clearly many others disagree today since this blog exists at all. So if the school believes that you risked your children’s safety and calls CPS and CPS agrees and reports you to the prosecutor and the prosecutor agrees and files charges against you and 6 helicopter parents on the jury agree and convict you, you can be found guilty of a crime even if there is no law that specifically states that it’s illegal for your child to walk to school.

  30. Anthony Hernandez November 17, 2010 at 3:13 am #

    @Donna, I am no lawyer, but…

    – Unless I am mistaken, the standard is “reasonable and prudent person.”

    – Just because millions of people do or believe something does not make them correct. Everyone thought the earth was flat and the sun orbited us, for example.

    – Statistics kept by the same branches of government charged with prosecuting crimes reveal the truth about child safety.

    – Additional mountains of information reveal what common sense should be able to tell anyone about child development.

    Thus, it becomes quote easy to argue that the helicopter parents, while having the force of numbers, are in fact the ones who are being both unreasonable and irresponsible.

    ALSO: Given how many cases of actual abuse CPS is buried under, does anyone really think that letting the kid out for air will really go far at all?

    Consider that all of us on this blog freely confess to behavior that some of us fear could land us in legal hot water. We do this on a daily basis and in enough detail that anyone who wants to prosecute any of us could simply pull a few of our blog entries here and take them to court. If authorities were really interested in keeping kids out of sanity’s way, then they could round us all up and have enough evidence to convict each and every one of us.

    Consider also that we are all here because a bestselling author has confessed to certain actions both publicly and globally. Lenore has not, to the best of my knowledge, been contacted by law enforcement or CPS.

    Has anyone on this board gotten such a knock on their door?

    I agree that your chain of events could happen. But I kind of like my odds. And if someone should ever charge me with abuse, I will gladly fight it all the way to the top. But in the meantime, I am not about to let fear of frightened, irrational, stupid people get in the way of my son hopping on his bicycle for the 1/2 mile ride to school at 7:30 each morning, his hours at the playground by said school almost every afternoon, his coming home by himself, going to stores by himself, martial arts, Jamba Juice, etc.

    And neither should anyone else.

  31. BrianJ November 17, 2010 at 3:15 am #

    @Donna – I would guess that you are leaving out the whole aspect of case law. This honestly sounds like one of those areas where there have to be some cases that have already been litigated. Unfortunately, that will vary by jurisdiction.

    That said, if we lived our lives worrying about how a certain jury might interpret our legal and justifiable actions, haven’t we allowed the terrorists to win? (and by terrorists, I mean those that would fill us with terror so that we do not do what we know makes sense and is perfectly reasonable)

  32. Donna November 17, 2010 at 3:32 am #

    @ Anthony – Actually several people on this blog have reported being harrassed by the police, including I believe, yourself. I don’t think anyone here’s case has gone as far as criminal prosecution, however, that is not to say that it could not.

    I have definitely had a client whose door got kicked in because the police officer did not like the fact that a 4 year old child was playing in the carport by herself (ultimately only charged with poss of marij and not child endangerment). There have been other posts by Lenore that contained news articles in which people were prosecuted for something that the free range parents here thought was absolutely crazy.

    I am certainly not saying that we should keep our kids locked up. I’m very free range. However, there were alot of people advocating knowing the law as if they expected to find some clear delination as to what age a child could legally walk home from school in their community. I’m simply stating that such a law does not exist. There also seemed to some belief that if it isn’t specifically outlawed, that it is okay. I’m simply saying that that is not necessarily true. Nor is there some universal definition as to a “reasonable and prudent person.” “Reasonable and prudent” and “substantial risk of harm” is ultimately defined by the police, courts and citizens of your jurisdiction.

    I allow my child to roam as free as I feel a 5 year old preschooler should roam. I also readily admit that such a stance could run me afoul of the laws in my state. I hope not but I think to lead people into some false sense of “if the law doesn’t have a specific age at which kids can walk to school, then there can be no problem” is a gross misreading of the law and that seemed to be the road that some were going down in their comments.

  33. Uly November 17, 2010 at 3:40 am #

    Anthony, nobody, since the time of the ancient Greeks (and probably earlier) thought the earth was flat. Not even the most ignorant sailor thought that – they could SEE that the horizon was curved!

  34. Anthony Hernandez November 17, 2010 at 3:50 am #

    @Uly, whether they did believe that specific thing or not is immaterial in this context because my main point is that people have believed a lot of bullshit over the millennia… including an example that I will refrain from mentioning, in deference to your overly tolerant sensibilities.

    @Donna, harassment by cops and prosecution are entirely different things. Also, I am not saying that people are not prosecuted. But given that:

    – I live in a major city with liberal tendencies where the school principal explicitly said “It’s a lifestyle choice and none of our business”…

    – The YMCA summer camp director let my boy sign himself out of summer camp and vanish into the distance…

    – etc…

    I rather like my odds.

    And I again submit that anyone with too much time on their hands could very easily prosecute any of us.

  35. Donna November 17, 2010 at 4:38 am #

    @ Anthony – Harassment by the police and prosecution are not two entirely different things. Harassment by the police is generally what leads to prosecution – you are never going to get prosecuted unless you first get harassed by the police.

    I also live in a liberal area – a liberal college mecca in an otherwise very red state. I have no worries about prosecution UNLESS something happens while my child is free ranging. I don’t care how liberal of an area you live in, your odds are only good IF nothing happens to your child. If your child is out doing the laundry and nothing happens, he may get harassed by the police but ultimately everything will be fine. If your child is out doing the laundry and gets hit by a car, you may very well get prosecuted. For example, in my liberal college town, a grandmother accidently left her grandbaby in the car while she went into a store. She was gone for less than 10 minutes and baby was perfectly fine – no charges. On the other hand, a mother left her preschooler in the car while she ran into the babysitter to give her a check she’d forgotten. She was gone for a few seconds, the child managed to catch his head in the window and suffered brain damage – mother prosecuted for a felony.

    I like my odds as long as my child is not injured. I don’t like my odds at all if something were to happen.

  36. Donna November 17, 2010 at 4:48 am #

    I also don’t make my decisions based on something that might happen. Tonight when we take the dog for a walk, I will let my daughter take one fork home while I take the other. It’s a quiet road and the risk of her hitting by a car is minimal so I let her do it. However, I do it with the understanding that IF the worst was to happen and she was to get hit by a car, I would probably be prosecuted.

  37. DJG November 17, 2010 at 4:49 am #


    I am a lawyer. I officially state with all the authority at my disposal, that I do not require a well defined chain of custody for a child going to or from school.

    Seriously, this assumption that people should compromise their principles and parenting style because they think that “lawyers may (or may not) have told the school to do that” is nonsense. Anthony said it perfectly. Know the law. Know the rules. Talk to social or child services. Ask if the school wants a permission slip. Ask them specifically what the consequences are going to be if you do not abide, and have them put that in writing. If they refuse to put something in writing, write down exactly what they say, type it verbatim in a letter, and send it back to them: “On X date you instructed me that your policy was [blah blah blah]. If this is incorrect, please instruct as to your exact policy, and any consequences should we fail to abide by that policy.” Keep your cool, stay dispassionate, deal with them on a professional level. It tends to scare the hell out of people.

  38. Anthony Hernandez November 17, 2010 at 5:06 am #

    @Donna, like you, I wil take my chances. I am as prepared as I can be by knowing the law, knowing the stats and their sources, and having a small army of people who could testify on my behalf.

  39. Carrie November 17, 2010 at 7:24 am #

    “Whatever happened to “bell rings, school’s out!” and the school just flings open the doors and let the kids out? Don’t most schools operate that way?” Our school doesn’t and neither do any other elementary schools in the district. Depending on the child’s mode of transportation, the school is actually liable until the child arrives home. Walkers (who have signed parental consent on file) are allowed to leave without supervision. Car or bus riders aren’t.

    There was an issue a few years ago with some of the bus kids where the drivers were letting the kids off at the wrong stops, arriving at the right stops really early and forcing the kids off, leaving them in poor weather (not just rain or snow but blizzard conditions that caused school to be closed early) without an adult, etc. After doing some research, the parents were finally told that the school held the ultimate responsibility for getting the kids home safely.

    Although most of us wouldn’t sue, there are many out there that would and it is easier for a school to cite “terrible things” and CYA, instead of allowing children to do crazy things, like walk home.

    “ALSO: Given how many cases of actual abuse CPS is buried under, does anyone really think that letting the kid out for air will really go far at all?”

    Again based on my area, I would say “yes, CPS likely would investigate” I don’t know the real stats but based on perception, it seems like CPS is far more interested in harassing law abiding parents, who let their kids be free than they are about actual abuse. We constantly hear about kids who are killed by their parent who were reported to CPS, who saw no cause to do anything. I’m sure that isn’t the case but I certainly wouldn’t brush all aside because there are worse things happening out there.

  40. This girl loves to talk November 17, 2010 at 8:36 am #

    oh my this about does my head in. I live in an inner city capital city of australia and there is no notes to sign if your kid walks or drives or whatever. Most kids do go to aftershool care, or get driven, but there are plenty who walk and ride bikes alone or with adults. My kids ride/walk with me and drive on the days we are lazy. Next year I am looking at them walking home alone on some days they will be 10 and 8 by then.

    Its still definately ‘bell rings schools out’ type thing here unless you go to afterschool care where the kids have to ‘sign in’

  41. Cheryl W November 17, 2010 at 9:16 am #

    Ask for a copy of the written district policy so you can show it to your lawyer. (Even if you don’t have a lawyer.) If they don’t have it written up, tell them to get you a copy when they have it. Offer to sign a waiver stating that your kid can walk.

    Call up CPS and ask if they have ever or would go after a person who ensuring that the child can get to school even if the parent is too sick to drive. (Hey, when I had the swine flu, I would have been arrested if I got behind the wheel, and I probably would have hit a kid or dog.)

    As last resort, since your kids can’t be allowed to go to school alone, even if you are sick or disabled in some way, tell the school that they need to send a bus to pick up your kids at the door.

    Basically, they are saying that everyone must be physically fit enough to walk their kid to school, or they need to have a car and drive them. If you fall down and break your leg, you can’t do either and then your kids are truant because you can’t physically hand them off? Or would they rather have them come to school?

  42. maxine most November 17, 2010 at 11:32 am #

    I am a market researcher and what I would do is find statistics on ‘dangers” to children in your area … child abductions – probably none, auto accidents, home accidents, etc. .And what you will find is that it is far more dangerous for a child to get into an automibile than to walk to school alone…. so perhaps you can then suggest to the Headmaster that the shcool should ban parents driving thier kids to school becuase it is one of the most dnagerous thinkgs you can do with a child.

  43. Steven November 17, 2010 at 1:15 pm #

    I do not mean to reinforce this mother’s concerns, but I feel that if the claim is true, get statistics on the crime rate especially on child abductions and other child related crimes. And assuming that you are in a kid safe/friendly area, bring the statistics to the principal telling him (or her) to not interfere with YOUR parenting and that even though you may not walk them physically to the gate, that you watch them go to the gate making sure they get there safely. If they say something again, get a consult with a lawyer to explore your options.

  44. Rachel Probert November 17, 2010 at 6:47 pm #

    Thank you everyone for all the advice. Its great to know that there are others out there who have the same outlook on life as myself. I will taking to social services, the CAB and will also be asking the school about the consequences of not abiding to these rules. Once again…Thank you everyone. I just hope this situation doesn’t escalate any further. I am seriously considering homeschooling as an option at the moment.

  45. Sarah Natividad November 18, 2010 at 1:13 am #

    “Chain of custody?” Are our children pieces of evidence to be presented in court?? Whatever happened to releasing a child on his own recognizance? If he’s walking with a buddy, and at least one of them is mature enough to be in charge, why not?

  46. Beth November 19, 2010 at 5:03 am #

    When I leave work, my employer is NOT responsible for my welfare until I walk in the door at home. I get that adults and children are different, but so different that whenever a child leaves a place, that place is responsible for them until they get home?

  47. Angela November 19, 2010 at 5:54 am #

    My kid’s out-of-school care (before and after care) requires that we SIGN IN our child in the AM. So, this means instead of letting my 8 YO son walk the 1/2 block to the school at 7:45 AM when I leave for work, I either have to walk him myself or drop him off on my way to work. I don’t like either option.

    I’ve asked WHY I have to sign him in and I just get “it’s policy”. I said, “What about kids who walk here by themselves?” And I just got a blank stare. I said, “Surely you have kids who come here on their own – you have students up to Grade 7 in this school!” And again, blank stares.

    I’m not ready to let my son stay home by himself for an hour before school while I go to work, but I’m more than ready to let him walk to school by himself. He loved it when I called in sick the other day, because it meant he got to walk to school all by himself at 8:45 (when the bell rings)!

    SO frustrating.

  48. Anthony Hernandez November 19, 2010 at 6:00 am #

    @Angela, this one is easy: Just give the daycare facility written authorization to let your son sign himself in and out and assume full responsibility. That’s what I did with my son’s YMCA camp this past summer. The director said normally only middle schoolers sign themselves out but handed me the form and made it happen.

  49. Roland December 31, 2010 at 6:05 am #

    I’m going to tell you a horrifying story. I am now in my early fifties. When I was a child we lived in the city of Brockton, MA – a smallish city, harldy small town USA. My mother walked me to school the first day of first grade. The very next day she went back to work. From then on I walked the roughly 1 mile back and forth from home to school every day …… by myself. The horror!!! I did this every day from 1st grade thru 6th (after that I took the bus). For the first 3 years we went home for lunch so at age 6 I walked the mile home and made myself lunch, then walked back to school. I made four trips daily between home and school and somehow managed to not get kidnapped or molested. And you know something? Every student in the school did that. Parents didn’t walk their kids to school or pick them up after school. Most kids had stay at home moms but they were too busy taking care of younger siblings. We were fine walking by ourselves or with our school friends. Of course we all got the “Don’t talk to strangers” warnings but that was the extent of it. Somehow I actually managed to survive into udulthood. It must be a miracle.

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