“I Saw a 7-year-old Walking Home and Felt So Scared for Him!” — Mom on Facebook

Voila znnhtababs
a Facebook thread from Cherry Hill, NJ. Names removed to protect them from being kidnapped! Or whatever. (You just can’t be too safe!) Most upsetting to me is the idea that if a child is walking home, something is wrong and the authorities should become involved. I like how Ed, towards the end, manages to shift the focus. (Boldface is mine):

ORIGINAL POSTER: Hello everyone I’m not sure how to deal with a situation that I have encountered twice so far this school year,, today as I was waiting for the light on Morris and Springdale around 3:45 waiting to turn left I noticed an elementary age boy turning the corner and walking alone up the busy road of Springdale, this scared me to death!! a million things went through my head if something was to happen to him with so many cars driving by,,,, just imagine!!!! So I put my hazard lights on and called to police and followed him slowly till I started to talk to him through the car window to stall him till police would arrive,, and so they did and then took over the matter..

A 7 year old vulnerable boy walking alone along Springdale rd,, where are the parents? School? I don’t get it?!?!?! So dangerous and so many crazy people out there!!!!! I am bothered!!!!!!

SUE: I think I saw this near the K___ residence. What happened? Did the police drive him home? IMO, I think the town should be responsible for him until he gets home (bus) as he is on a MAJOR road. <can’t imagine your gut when you went thru this – thank you for caring!>

ELLEN: Sad/scary situation. You totally did the right thing calling the police. Was he walking home from elementary school?

ORIGINAL POSTER: The officer was like ‘I think it’s ok he walking home,,,’ I was like I’m sorry not on a busy road! He said that he was gonna drive him home or back to the school.

Yes, he said he lives near wawa but couldn’t remember the street name,,

ELLEN: Near wawa…..there isnt even a sidewalk there….so scary.


GIGI:  If there is no side walk. I thought the rule is he would need to be bused.


LORI:  Oh, I saw a kid dart across Morris. It was at 4:15. It was right at the corner. Kid looked around 9.

LISA: I saw this and wondered what was going on. Good for you! How scary for that little boy! I don’t want to judge the parents bc we don’t know why he’s walking alone. But, they should reach out to the school for safety reasons.

ADRIENNE: It could be reportable. I hope the police investigated and called DYFS if necessary. Poor kid!

ORIGINAL POSTER:  Idk what to say anymore!! Poor kids out there!!!

ERIN: He should he dropped off near his house. There are plenty of busses that go down Springdale.

CLAUDIA: It’s so crazy how times have changed. I talk to my husband about this all the time. My brother and I would leave the house on the weekend and be all over the neighborhood- even busy streets. We’d walk to Cumberland Farms (anyone remember those?) and it was on a highway. I was 6 and my brother was 8. That’s not to say that it was a good idea… My son is 7 and I don’t let him play in our front yard unless I’m out there lol. I can’t tell if I’m being safe or a (s)mother. Maybe this kids parents are from a place where at 7 you have grown up responsibilities- look at the kid in the picture (keep in mind I don’t let my son use the toaster haha)

HANNAH: The school is aware of the situation and they are taking care if it.

ED: Kids walk home and to other places alone often. The police didn’t seem to have an issue with it. What was pretty scary is some strange person slowly driving in a car down Springdale following a young kid walking alone.Its all about perspective.

ERIN:  Sorry…in todays day….it is very unusual to see a young child walking alone on a busy road! And I think it is wonderful that someone cared enough to stop and ask the child if they were okay!!! Most people would turn the other way because they are too busy and in a hurry!!

ED: Which brings me to my next point….why are so many main roads here (like Springdale) sidewalk free?Walking isn’t the issue…poor planning in the face of development is.

ED: Maybe you feel its unusual in this area….but every day I see kids travelling alongside much busier roads. The difference is they have sidewalks,crosswalks,and traffic signals.

ELLEN: I don’t understand the lack of sidewalks. There are schools with no sidewalk.

BARB:  With all the shopping center development, playgrounds, baseball fields … there should be sidewalks on Springdale and Evesham. Not sure why the township didn’t make provisions for this when they developed all the farm land.

This is the street!

This is the street!

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117 Responses to “I Saw a 7-year-old Walking Home and Felt So Scared for Him!” — Mom on Facebook

  1. CrazyCatLady May 5, 2014 at 10:20 am #

    How scary for that child! First some strange lady is following him down the street, and then the police come!

    I wish I had bike lanes like that here.

  2. BL May 5, 2014 at 10:26 am #

    “One Adam Twelve, we have reports of a WWY on Springdale Road.”


    “Walking While Young.”

  3. JM May 5, 2014 at 10:29 am #

    Aside from the needless overreaction, the glaring problem in this story is the lack of sidewalks in this area. It’s as if the era of walking has been deemed officially over, and car culture rules. That’s really the tragic part – fear is working its way into city infrastructure!!

  4. Paul May 5, 2014 at 10:29 am #

    As a free-range parent, I’ve given up a lot of fears, but one fear I’ll never lose is the worry that sooner or later, one of these overconcerned parents is going to take an interest in my kids.

  5. lollipoplover May 5, 2014 at 10:33 am #

    “I started to talk to him through the car window to stall him till police would arrive,, and so they did and then took over the matter..”

    I hope this capable elementary school student reports this *child luring* to the police. You can never be too safe, especially from creepy parents like this.

  6. SJH May 5, 2014 at 10:35 am #

    @BL: Love the Adam-12 reference! I’m too young to remember when it originally aired in the 70’s, but my dad introduced me to them on DVD. Now my husband and I watch them on Netflix, and we often marvel at how the times have changed. The peak into saner times is both refreshing and disheartening, by contrast.

  7. Scott May 5, 2014 at 10:38 am #

    Haven’t I seen other posts here about cars that were stopped in a neighborhood and parents freaking out thinking they were kidnappers? Someone should report the original poster for following a child in her car as a potential kidnapper…

  8. Brooke May 5, 2014 at 10:43 am #

    @Paul: Yes! “Concerned people” are my number one worry about being Free Range. The idea that I might have to deal with CPS because I have faith in my child is absolutely terrifying.

    Kudos to Ed in the above thread for daring to question the status quo.

  9. Lizzie Smith May 5, 2014 at 10:46 am #

    I’m in my early 20’s and was blessed with parents who allowed us to walk along busy streets. The things I had nightmares about were the folks who scared the tar out if us by stopping to check on us and ask nosy questions. Shame on that awful lady, she probably gave that child the scare of his life. Her actions were cruel and inconsiderate, and done only to make herself feel better. There is no way she really thought she was helping that boy out! To go through that would have been terrifying.

  10. Gary May 5, 2014 at 10:48 am #

    Claudia needs to be waterboarded.

  11. TaraK May 5, 2014 at 10:49 am #

    I think the creeper is the lady following him and trying to stall him!

  12. Tim May 5, 2014 at 10:50 am #

    I think I have a pretty Free Range attitude towards parenting, but traffic is legitimately scary. In the zeal to get people to think more realistically about the actual (almost nonexistent) dangers of child abduction and the like, let’s not forget that car accidents are the leading cause of death among kids and young adults. And nowadays more people probably live in areas without sidewalks or other pedestrian amenities than used to back in the day, and there are more cars on the road, so if anything the danger to young children from car accidents is probably higher than it used to be (although it is quite difficult to find actual statistics on this that don’t focus on occupant injuries, where improved car seats have made things much safer).

  13. SKL May 5, 2014 at 10:54 am #

    If she were a man, she would have been arrested for attempted abduction and probably a few other things.

    Shame. If that showed up on my facebook, it would have gotten ugly. 😛

    There is a road on my way to my kids’ school where there is no sidewalk (and no berm) and kids have to walk down this street to get to the school bus stop. Sometimes they can walk on the grass, but usually not, due to our lovely weather. There is also a lady who walks there with her baby stroller during rush hour. Honestly, it does make me nervous because drivers don’t expect to have pedestrians all over the road during rush hour. However, in the photo above, at least there is a berm and grass to walk on. I would assume the child was walking near or on the grass.

  14. Beth May 5, 2014 at 10:56 am #

    “I’m sorry, not on a busy road”? Lady, this is not your decision. It’s the decision of the parents and you need to stay out of it.

    And I love the poster(s) pulling for what must be the equivalent of CPS involvement. Yeah, it would be SO much better for this boy’s family to be investigated and for him to possibly be placed into foster care.

  15. CJW May 5, 2014 at 10:56 am #

    *gasp* Look at that photo! No cement sidewalks, just grass! The kids would have to walk on the GRASS! There could be dirty syringes, broken bottles, and disease-carrying insects lurking in that grass! Oh the HUMANITY!

  16. Not the Adrienne in the story May 5, 2014 at 10:58 am #

    Aren’t we supposed to teach our kids to run from crazy strangers (male OR female) who follow them and talk to them? I’ll bet she was asking personal questions too. “Where do you live/ go to school? Do you play sports, etc.” All this so she could “stall” him.

    When the talking doesn’t work, these vigilante parents will try getting the kid into their much safer car. When the cops show up for a potential kidnapping, their excuse will be, “But the kid was so much better off in my car than walking along the road.”

  17. DJ May 5, 2014 at 11:01 am #

    I really like the way Ed refocused the discussion on improving safety by installing sidewalks, not by limiting the child or making the school responsible for busing.

  18. Ravana May 5, 2014 at 11:13 am #

    The woman should be arrested for stalking the child.

    Oh, and thanks for posting all this information publicly on Facebook about where to find a young boy alone. What an ijit.

  19. MiRoLa May 5, 2014 at 11:23 am #

    Shorter “Claudia” – we did it as kids, but it ought to be illegal now.

    The only thing “scary” about this scenario is that these parents want the kid taken away and the cops time wasted.

    The kid was walking along a busy street – he wasn’t tightrope walking at the edge of the Grand Canyon. Get a grip!!!

    When was the last time you heard a “random kid struck by a car on a busy street” story?

  20. MiRoLa May 5, 2014 at 11:24 am #

    And, what CrazyCatLady said. Followed by a crazy Gladys Kravitz type and then picked up by the cops. Nice.

  21. mystic_eye May 5, 2014 at 11:27 am #

    A street with no sidewalk is safer than a street with a sidewalk and on-street parking. We should ban on-street parking to protect kids /sarcasm.

    Seriously “busy” is a matter of opinion

  22. Andrea May 5, 2014 at 11:27 am #

    Two thoughts:

    1) I would be surprised to find out that walking cautiously down the side of a road on a berm is statistically more dangerous than riding in a car, sidewalk or no.

    2) There was a point in time that I was bullied to the point of panic attacks on the school bus. School buses may have good highway safety records, but they are certainly rife with internal hazards.

    Perhaps walking home is the safest option for this kid after all.

  23. Sandi May 5, 2014 at 11:34 am #

    OMG! I used to walk on a busy street without a sidewalk ALL THE TIME when I was little. How does a strip of concrete next to a road make the cards stay on the road any better? Just walk in the grass, for goodness sake. Adults in this country are losing their senses.

  24. Sandi May 5, 2014 at 11:34 am #

    cars – not cards – LOL

  25. Papilio May 5, 2014 at 11:36 am #

    I like how Ed says everything I thought!
    I’m kind of disappointed in the kid that he didn’t run away as fast as he could when some stranger’s car slowed down next to him, preferably taking a route where a car couldn’t follow.
    The bigger problem is indeed, again, a lack of infrastructure for those who transport themselves with their legs.

    @Crazycatlady: Eh – I don’t see bike lanes? Where do you see a bike lane?

  26. Shannon May 5, 2014 at 11:44 am #

    Aside from the creeper, what is with the nutcase that doesn’t let her 7 yr old son go in the front yard alone, or use a toaster??

  27. E May 5, 2014 at 11:49 am #

    Hopefully the kids was walking in the grass and not on that small shoulder. I don’t think the observer mentions that. I could see being concerned if he was on the pavement, but obviously not to this crazed extent.

    Facebook and neighborhood listservs are very interesting places. A friend of mine relayed a post-Halloween FB thread where a woman was suggesting that they give out stickers to neighborhood kids to easily identify them so they could refuse those that were only interlopers. Ugh. Probably the same woman would would want CPS to follow up on a kid walking down the street.

  28. Laura May 5, 2014 at 11:52 am #

    In our area, loads of kids walk home alone and do it safely. Parents look out for them- without hovering- they do so in groups, etc. You know what the dangerous part is? The lady following the kid! We had an incident recently where a stranger approached a child and asked for name, address, etc. The kid did the right thing and ran for help. I only hope this child would do the same thing! The lady’s actions (following the child, etc) are the ones that are NOT okay or safe!

  29. Asya May 5, 2014 at 12:04 pm #

    That was so painful I couldn’t read through it. The level of stupidity is just… astronomical. So given the amount of incidents with police brutality nowadays, you call the pigs to scare a little boy not bothering anyone (imagine how worried and guilty this made him feel, especially if it was his first proud little walk) after you stalk him slowly in your precious suburban locomotive, and wail online that the horrors of CPS need to mess with his life and leave him potentially drugged, abused, or dead in state care?! WOW WHAT A FAVOR YOU ARE DOING FOR HIM, MORON!!!! I would instruct my kid to say how it was– the strange woman was harassing and following him while asking invasive questions.

  30. Jillian May 5, 2014 at 12:07 pm #

    At least they eventually got to the right issue: the need for sidewalks and traffic safety. I wish all these people would spend more time pressuring their city council for sidewalks and safe roads and less trying to stop children from walking on them.

  31. North of 49 May 5, 2014 at 12:16 pm #

    I had to deal with this with my 7 year old. Child services was constantly being called on us even though there were sidewalks and walk signals and more.

    What drove me nuts is that when I was his age, I was on a city bus, not school bus, for over an hour, including a transfer, in order to get to and from school. A walk of 15 minutes? My son loved his freedom.

  32. Gary May 5, 2014 at 12:24 pm #

    “Child services was constantly being called on us even though there were sidewalks and walk signals and more.”

    “Please direct all questions and concerns to my attorney who is handling this.”

    I bet you that would stop it.

  33. anonymous mom May 5, 2014 at 12:24 pm #

    On the one hand, I do think it’s frustrating that a child would have to walk down a street like that to get home from school. It doesn’t look very pedestrian-friendly. Sidewalks are very helpful things.

    On the other hand, those people are by and large insane. And, I think it’s pretty clear that social media faux concern for children’s well-being is not about the actual well-being of an actual child, but making the poster look like the most concerned and caring parent and citizen around. The OP didn’t really want feedback on what to do; she has her mind made up already about the situation. Instead, she wants affirmation that she is an awesome person for calling the police and caring about this child, unlike all the horrible people out there like this child’s neglectful parents and all those crazy people driving by who did nothing.

  34. Laura May 5, 2014 at 12:26 pm #

    We have instructed out 8 year old, who walks to and from school every day, that if anyone does something like this (follow her in a car trying to talk to her), to run to the closest house, ask for help, and call 911. Or, run home if it’s closer. My daughter would have some damaging things to say to the police about this woman following her in a car. We’ve taught her to speak to stranger (adults) and what to do if they behave inappropriately. I’d love it if that child had complained to the police about her creepy, inappropriate actions.

  35. john May 5, 2014 at 12:26 pm #

    In as far as kindergarteners are actually in college prep and 7,8,9 year old youngsters can’t navigate a “walk” home from school, why don’t we just start them in driver’s ed and lower the licensing age. Understandably, we would need some enterprising entrepreneur to develop auto booster seats and peddles, but wouldn’t that solve so many problems? Opportunities for investment, real engineering challenges for otherwise only hopeful college graduates, newly designed autos, manufacturing jobs, new areas of law and enforcement, the licensing, think of the licensing and the fees. A veritable Great Society, oh yeah we did that one, never mind.

  36. gap.runner May 5, 2014 at 12:29 pm #

    That woman sounds scary! I would have her arrested for being a potential kidnapper. Why else would she be stalking a child?

    All of those busybodies who are concerned about children walking by themselves would go crazy anywhere else in the world. In most other countries, children walk places by themselves and it’s a normal thing. Do people in the States really believe that kids should be kept in a bubble until they are 18? How will they be expected to navigate their world when they are adults if they never had the chance as children? I always thought that the purpose of child rearing was really teaching your kids to become capable adults.

  37. mandy May 5, 2014 at 12:36 pm #

    I would report the original reporter for harassing my kid. I can’t believe the way some folks just have to stick their nose in where it doesn’t belong – MAKES ME MAD!!
    If the parents believe the kid is responsible enough then that should be good enough for the school, the police and the busy body who has to butt her nose in!

  38. lollipoplover May 5, 2014 at 12:40 pm #

    “I think I have a pretty Free Range attitude towards parenting, but traffic is legitimately scary. In the zeal to get people to think more realistically about the actual (almost nonexistent) dangers of child abduction and the like, let’s not forget that car accidents are the leading cause of death among kids and young adults.”

    I totally agree. My kids bike to school daily and their biggest danger is drivers, especially distracted ones on the phone calling the police about non-existent dangers.
    There’s a mom in our development who drives her son to and from school every day. She’s called me several times *concerned* because she thinks my kids “look cold” while biking. I replied by saying my kids see her son in the back of her minivan and he “looks sad and bored” and want to know if he wants to join them biking to school to cheer him up. Judgement goes both ways. I also reminded her that my kids are wearing their ski jackets and they check the Weather Channel app on my phone every morning to prepare for the weather conditions appropriately.

  39. J- May 5, 2014 at 12:40 pm #

    I know that area quite well. My grandmother lives in Cherry Hill, right on Kresson Rd., a couple of blocks from where Kresson and Springdale intersect. I used to ride by there all the time, down Kresson over to Haddonfield.

    It’s a very nice community, very family friendly. I never felt like there was any danger when I was spending summers with my Grandparents. This woman is insane.

  40. anonymous mom May 5, 2014 at 12:46 pm #

    Honestly, I don’t think there was anything wrong with this woman politely inquiring whether the child was okay. I don’t think that’s weird or creepy or inappropriate. Now, once the kid said he was walking home from school and was fine, she should have dropped it, wished him a good day, and driven off. The continuing to follow him WAS creepy. But I don’t think kids need to overreact to strangers asking them questions, especially on a busy rode like this. There’s certainly good safety precautions like never getting in a car with a stranger or trusting your instincts if somebody seems scary or dangerous, but I don’t think there’s any reason for kids to assume that any adult slowing down their car next to them or asking them a question is dangerous.

  41. E Simms May 5, 2014 at 12:46 pm #

    I googled Wawa near Morris and Springdale. There IS a sidewalk on Springdale on one side all the way from Morris to the Wawa.

    According to the OP, the police officer sounded kind of reasonable, but the OP was upset with that. The people on that site seem to feed on themselves.

  42. Kayla May 5, 2014 at 12:48 pm #

    Good thing it was a woman who stopped her. They probably would have arrested a man for doing that. I think the issue here is sidewalks, not a 7 year old walking home from school. If their home is close enough… why not?.

    Lets not forget…What 7 year old behaves dangerously around roads?.

  43. wombat94 May 5, 2014 at 12:57 pm #

    Holy hell… this has me angry.

    Mostly because I grew up in Cherry Hill…drawing on the info that was available, I’m almost certain I know what elementary school it is that this child goes to (the same one I went to for kindergarten back in 1974-75).

    The intersection in question is about 1/2 mile from the school… up to the point of that intersection, the walking paths are all residential streets with good concrete sidewalks. There certainly is no danger from traffic up to the point where the child would have turned onto Springdale road.

    From the description given by the child, (living “near” the Wawa food market) I can be pretty sure that the TOTAL distance from this child’s home is no more than 1.2 miles to the school. (It could be as little as 0.7 – 0.8 miles).

    7 years old is not too young to walk that distance alone. I walked further than that to go to this school as a kindergartner (5 – 6 years old) back in the mid 1970s! So the age should not be a problem (a 7 year old is possibly 2nd grade – or more likely at this point in the school year, a first grader).

    As for the issue of the main road the child was walking down… I can understand some concern as it IS a VERY busy arterial road that goes between different suburban developments and connects them to a busy commercial area….

    BUT, here’s the thing… as the photo attached to this story shows, there is a WIDE paved shoulder on this road next to the one lane of traffic… and next to that shoulder is a wide grassy area. This construction continues all the way to the shopping centers/commerial area – at which point sidewalks and traffic lights/crosswalks will take the child the rest of the way home.

    ADDITIONALLY… though the photo above doesn’t show it well, the OPPOSITE side of Springdale road DOES have a sidewalk that is not in the traffic right of way, and the intersection referred to (Morris and Springdale) has a traffic light controlling traffic AND a crosswalk that would safely allow the child to go to the side with the sidewalk. Now, if the child lives in the neighborhood I expect, using that sidewalk would actually result in two unnecessary crossing of the busy road, and if I were walking that route, I wouldn’t do it, but at that age, depending on the child, I might counsel them to do that anyway – but it is a false sense of security, because by walking on the grass on the side without the sidewalk, the child is actually FURTHER away from the traffic lane because of the wide shoulder on that side.

    Ultimately, what bothers me most is that the original poster says “I’m not sure how to deal with the situation.” – I have an idea for him/her… how about you mind your own business???

    And, the policeman initially saw no problem but relented… and then the school is “dealing with it”!


  44. Emily Moothart May 5, 2014 at 1:22 pm #

    That street looks safe to me, as long as the child is walking on the far edge. And I would assume that any parent letting the child walk home would have taught him how beforehand. 🙂

    I agree that it would be frightening to a child to have someone “follow him slowly” in a car. He doesn’t know her at all! And that is totally creepier than someone pulling over and asking if he is ok (acceptable, but probably not necessary!)

    My boys (who walk alone!) know that if they need help, they are to yell and wave their arms and ASK FOR HELP. If they’re just walking, minding their own business, I hope other “concerned adults” would mind theirs, as well. 😛

  45. Mrs. H. May 5, 2014 at 1:25 pm #

    “I don’t even let my [seven-year-old] son use the toaster! lol”

    Jesus Christ.

    And no, I’m not swearing — I’m praying (and I’m an atheist). I feel so hopeless about our cause in the face of such proud idiocy. col (that’s “crying out loud”)

  46. lollipoplover May 5, 2014 at 1:29 pm #

    “I’m not sure how to deal with the situation.”


    Reading through this rant, it’s very clear a helicopter parent has developed an irrational fear of seeing children “unattended”. This is completely irrational. What most disturbs me is that others go along with this crazy non-sense and build her up that she did the right thing. She is creating a nuisance and her FB friends should cower under rocks for giving her facebook balls to press on with police. She was probably texting and driving to boot. If she were concerned AT ALL for this kid, get off the smart phone and pay attention to the road.

    Chances are, this child (and how can she tell the age just by sight?) has discovered that it is faster and more efficient to walk a short distance vs. being chauffered in a very congested area stuck in the back of a car. Trying to make the 10-minute drop off/pick up window at these schools on congested roads is a nightmare. Walking short distances (especially with friends) is a such a nicer option. The sight of it should make you smile, not induce panic attacks. FB friends need to refer her to a mental health professional.

  47. Maxine May 5, 2014 at 1:32 pm #

    My 3rd grade daughter has been walking to school all this year. It is a 10 minute walk in a safe neighborhood. She is one of very few kids who does. Lots of walkers but all accompanied by mom or dad. She does have to cross one street which is only busy because of all the parents driving their kids to school. I foo ask the town to put up a child crossing sign at this intersection and my daughter often says the minivan moms are the worst ones when it comes to stopping as the law requires to allow her to cross.It has been grey for both of us. She has some time every day on her own to transition from home to school and back and I have an extra 40 minutes a day to do what i need to. Next school year, when she is 9, I am gong to have her start taking our local bus to our downtown area – a ten minute ride – so she can go to the library on her own.

  48. Gary May 5, 2014 at 1:32 pm #

    What fb page/group is this nonsense taking place at.

  49. Nadine May 5, 2014 at 1:32 pm #

    So everybody is complaining but nobody actually takes it up a notch and solves the possibly dangerous situations. By taking it up with the government. Its what they did in the Netherlands in the seventies. They changed the road laws, the standard of designing roads, incorporating bikepaths and walkpaths everywhere. http://youtu.be/XuBdf9jYj7o

    There is something to say about having save infrastructures that are accessable by foot and bike. To have laws and rules in place that are favorable to the most vulnerable. It would make kids safer and independent.

    But i guess that would take control away from the helikopter parents. And we cant have that. What would they do with their lives.

  50. Dee May 5, 2014 at 1:34 pm #

    Wow, so that grassy area of at least 3 feet can’t be considered a sidewalk? Not having a sidewalk is when there’s nothing…just road and nothing to walk on. Yeah, a paved path might be nice, but that looks just fine. (For the record, I grew up without sidewalks and obviously lived to tell the tale.)

  51. Peter Brülls May 5, 2014 at 1:39 pm #

    This is quite absurd. Is there a plan to infantilize the American public?

    in nearly 30 years of driving, I felt I had to intervene exactly 2 times.

    Once when a toddler walked next to a busy road where the speed limit was 45 mph. Right after a curve, even. He apparently escaped from his back yard, though his mothers wasn’t too concerned.

    Another when a bunch of elementary school children frolicked on the Autobahn. Absolutely forbidden for all pedestrians and unpowered vehicles and not very safe, as lots if cars were going 100 mph and faster.

    But calling out school age kids because they walk at a perfectly normal road?

  52. bmj2k May 5, 2014 at 1:41 pm #

    I look forward to our bubblewrapped future. Sigh.

  53. EricS May 5, 2014 at 1:44 pm #

    Wow. So many paro parents.

    “ERIN: Sorry…in todays day….it is very unusual to see a young child walking alone on a busy road!”

    Yes, it is UNUSUAL. Because society has MADE IT unusual in the last 20 years. This was completely normal, in rural and busy city communities, for decades prior to this age of paranoia. People making up issues out of nothing, because they are manipulated by media to think that way. I was 6 when I started walking to school on my own, in a major city in Canada. I was introduced to prostitutes (I only knew them as ladies who were nice to me, and bought me chocolate at the corner store I walk by when I go home). They would by me my treat for the day, and tell me to always look both ways before crossing the street. I always took the route that was between stop lights, that cut through a little alley way behind a church and a hospital. For 6 years I did this. The prostitutes had moved off that corner by the time I was 10. This was common practice for pretty much every kid back then. The main thing is, we were TAUGHT how to walk to school and cross the street.

    At 7 years old, kids aren’t stupid, or dumb, or slow. They are much smarter, resilient, and resourceful than most adults give them credit for. And when you don’t nurture those natural abilities of children, they don’t grow, and develop them as they get older. Just like sports, if you don’t practice, you never get good at it. You never learn the instincts required that will help you. You never learn the confidence that will guide you. And you never learn self esteem that will help you grow into a better person.

    I find it very perplexing how many parents today think that children can be sheltered till they are 18, and then be let out in the real world expecting them to be prepared. lol! Again, using sports, that’s like sticking a person who, except from what he’s been told about it, knows very little about hockey, and then stick him in the NHL. Common sense.

    And by the looks of that picture, there may not be a “sidewalk” but there there is plenty of room that isn’t considered a road. Yes, we’ve walked in conditions like that too. On even busier roads. It’s not the situation, situations of today, is the same as situations 20+ years ago. The only thing that has changed significantly, is the way people think. No one THINKS using COMMON SENSE anymore.

    ED, at the end, has a better outlook on the situation. Make an issue of THE ISSUE…no sidewalks. Not the non-issue, a kid walking home. And like he said, the cop had no issue with the kid walking home by himself. Which means he is using common sense based on his experience on the job. I’d wager, his dept sees very little to know issues with kids walking around town. So why make an issue of it?

  54. Donna May 5, 2014 at 1:56 pm #

    E – I finally had to opt out of my neighborhood listserv when I got annoyed with the DAILY emails over Christmas stating different varieties of essentially “A strange (poor black) man knocked on my door today and offered to rake my leaves. I called the police and the police told me that they knew who he was and that it was legit, but I still insisted that they come out and harass him (for no apparent reason). Everyone be on the look out (so that we can stop this person from attempting to make some Christmas money for his family by raking leaves). This is so scary.” (parenthesis are my editorial comments)

  55. Deborah May 5, 2014 at 2:01 pm #

    Crazy nosey trouble makers. Elementary kids are perfectly capable of walking to school, and using the toaster, in this day and age which is historically safer than ever before. The driver should have been given a ticket for impeding traffic and scolded for harassing the kid.

  56. Michelle May 5, 2014 at 2:05 pm #

    Did it occur to anyone how dangerous it is for a car to be creeping along (presumably much slower than the rest of traffic) on a supposedly busy road? I’m surprised she didn’t cause an accident.

  57. Mark Davis May 5, 2014 at 2:12 pm #

    “Claudia”‘s son is 7 and she doesn’t let him use the toaster? I think that says it all right there.

    (My toaster story? My 5-year-old has been using the toaster for ages. Very early on he decided that anything that comes out of the toaster must be handled with oven mitts – so hilarious, but good for him. He recognized (or experienced) the danger and made his own (proactive) decision how to deal with it.)

  58. Kathy May 5, 2014 at 2:13 pm #

    If “Ed” had been the one in the car slowly following the kid, this would have been a news report about an “ATTEMPTED ABDUCTION on Springdale Rd.!!! Get the story, tonight at 10!!!”

  59. Reziac May 5, 2014 at 2:18 pm #

    I see the headline, “I Saw a 7-year-old Walking Home and Felt So Scared for Him!” and immediately thought, “So, what did you plan to do to him??”

    Seriously, the likely upshot if all these fearful types act on their paranoia is that the child is in for the most traumatic experience of his young life.

  60. EricS May 5, 2014 at 2:22 pm #

    At anonymous mom, I understand what you are saying. My take on that, is it sends the wrong signals for the child. From the sounds of it, it seems like this kid has been doing this for a while. He and his parents are comfortable with him walking to and from school. No comes some one creeping up on him in a car, wondering if he was ok. Let’s just say he isn’t paranoid, and knows not to get into the car. But what does it say to his developing confidence and self esteem? Kids are very smart at this age. They pick up on on many things, and learn from experience. Hence why we should be teaching them proper. But at that age, they are also impressionable. Now, he’s being questioned about something he knows to be alright, and he feels comfortable doing. A cop gets involved to take him home or back to the school. And chances are, the school may make a big issue of it now that a busy body “complained”.

    This kid’s normal day to day life, is now being turned upside down. No doubt he is probably confused. And chances are if the school presses the parents to make sure he is no longer allowed to walk to and from school on his own, it will destroy the confidence and self-esteem he has been building for himself. All because of a busy body person, who felt FEARFUL within themselves. Just to make herself feel better about the situation she PERCEIVES is an issue, she just got the ball rolling for locked down life for this boy. SELFISH! Heart may have been in the right place, but her mind was a million miles away.

    People need to start thinking before speaking and acting. Stop acting on THEIR emotional turmoil. And start thinking about what IS best for the children. NOT what THEY FEEL is best. It’s pretty obvious that when we cater to our own emotional needs, it’s not always what is best. It’s best for us, yes. But what is best for us, isn’t always best for others. Deal with the situation as it is presented in front of you. If nothing is happening, move on. Not what you think MAY happen, or the possibility of things happening. ANYTHING is possible, but not everything is probable.

  61. Reziac May 5, 2014 at 2:26 pm #

    “A strange (poor black) man knocked on my door today and offered to rake my leaves.” Excellent! I’ll pay him two bucks a sack.

    Seriously, I wonder how these paranoid people would react to things like… I live out in the middle of nowhere. One very cold midnight last December, a ragged young black man appeared on my doorstep, having fallen off the train (really!) My main thought was — lucky he fell off here instead of five miles either way, where he’d have froze to death. Lucky I’d forgot the porch light on so he’d seen a place to go. But afraid? not hardly. I gave him two cups of hot chocolate and called his girlfriend to come get him.

  62. John May 5, 2014 at 2:26 pm #

    This thread pretty much sums up the absurdity in the way us Americans think when it comes to the OVERprotection of kids. This thread is definite proof that free rangers have a looooooong way to go in changing this mindset.

    These people need to visit the Philippines to observe how free range the kids are there and that they do perfectly fine. Then again, the crazy people in that thread would probably demand that our government impose sanctions on the Philippines until they bubble-wrap their kids like we do ours!

  63. Emily May 5, 2014 at 2:33 pm #

    >>Aside from the creeper, what is with the nutcase that doesn’t let her 7 yr old son go in the front yard alone, or use a toaster??<<

    Probably the same mom who'll be filling out all her son's university applications, and then constantly hovering over him there to make sure he goes to all of his classes, goes to bed at a reasonable hour every night, and eats his vegetables in the dining hall. On weekends, she'll visit to do his laundry.

  64. Derek May 5, 2014 at 2:37 pm #

    Another thing to consider is that this is in New Jersey, where state law requires districts provide transportation to students if they live more than two miles distant from the schools. Busing within that radius is called “courtesy busing” and is not reimbursed by the state.

    This is a rule that has existed for several decades, and makes sense in the state because of its profusion of postage-stamp cities and older suburbs have the infrastructure that actually makes it possible to walk to school. Many towns have just a few homes, if any, outside of that radius.

    However, within the last 10 to 15 years, I have noticed an increasing number of parents dropping off their children. In these small towns, it is not uncommon to see 50 to 75 cars idling on the shoulder of an otherwise busy street while just a few students walk by on adjacent sidewalks. The cars creep up at less than pedestrian speeds, until the drivers can finally drop off this single child at the front door. The process repeats in reverse six hours later.

    Geez. Doesn’t anybody own bikes anymore?

  65. lollipoplover May 5, 2014 at 2:39 pm #

    “Near wawa…..there isnt even a sidewalk there….so scary”

    You mean he can stop for a shorti on his way home from school? To the kid, this is probably the highlight of his day!
    Cherry Hill is a very affluent suburb of New Jersey and across the river from Philadelphia. If she drove over the Ben Franklin Bridge into the city she would see tens of thousands of Philadelphia School Students walk through the ‘hood daily or take SEPTA buses *unattended* because there’s no money for school transportation. She’d be on her phone calling the police all day. This is what they call white people problems.

  66. bernard May 5, 2014 at 2:43 pm #

    What we need to be frightened about are those people (creepy people is a good phrase) who spend so much time thinking negatively, constantly ruminating about potential perversions, never letting go of the idea that “anything and everything” could happen (but statistically rarely does).

    These people frighten me because they are both scaring children insane and teaching them to NEVER dare, never enjoy, never be independent and never learn how to handle any situations they may encounter – unless those situations are in the virtual realities of their digital game lives.

    2 things should happen to people like “original poster” and her cohort of idiocy thinkers: They should be severely fined ($100 +) for disturbing a police officer during his or her legitimate duties and told in no uncertain terms to MYOB” or the second fine would be double.

  67. Havva May 5, 2014 at 3:04 pm #


    I’m amused by the part of the link name “helicopter-parents-crash-kids-job-interviews-whats-an-employer-to-do”

    The hand ringing I’ve seen in such articles on the part of employers over what to do amuses me. For my department the answer would be simple. The applicants chance of getting the job would dip to almost nothing. I’m the department softy so I would give them one chance to authoritatively tell their “driver” to go wait in the lobby.

    If they couldn’t, or if they had any hesitation to do so, I would know they were entirely unfit for the job. But then the work my department does, requires an air of authority. If you can’t get someone who cares about you to do a perfectly logical thing; there is no way you will be able to jump into the middle of dispute, and negotiate a solution.

  68. Steve May 5, 2014 at 3:33 pm #

    I love the NO SIDEWALKS ARGUMENT. It’s a bit like saying, “I didn’t know how to do it because I had no step-by-step instructions in my hands. How can you expect me to accomplish something if “someone else” hasn’t prepared the way for me and given me a plan to follow?

    Ah, for the good old days when the Pilgrims landed and found sidewalks already in place so they could explore this great country.

    The main reason sidewalks don’t exist is because very few people would use them. If most people wanted sidewalks, they would be installed because of the uproar from the public.

  69. fred schueler May 5, 2014 at 3:52 pm #

    a few years ago our township tore up the sidewalks they’d installed in 1946 so the kids could walk to school without getting muddy. Now the kids need to walk on the street, right out among traffic, when they’re home. They get bus bounced so far to a central school that their bums ache by the time they get home if they sit in the back of the bus.

  70. E May 5, 2014 at 4:19 pm #

    I have no problem pointing out there is no sidewalk. I’ve walked a section the closest busy main road to our subdivision…it was no fun and I’d not chose to do it again w/o a sidewalk. The ground was littered with trash and the occasional ant hill and my socks ended up with ticks on them. I realize I survived just fine, but a sidewalk would be much preferred.

    On that same main road closer to development, the city has recently installed crosswalks and sidewalks for pedestrians and I’m happy to say I’ve used them all (as have many others). As much as we’re a car driven society (especially in the ‘burbs), I do see an increase of people walking to the local store, bagel/coffee shop, etc.

  71. Bob Cavanaugh May 5, 2014 at 4:22 pm #

    Did it occur to anyone how dangerous it is for a car to be creeping along (presumably much slower than the rest of traffic) on a supposedly busy road? I’m surprised she didn’t cause an accident.” Part of the problem also is insurance. Your car insurance is going to judge the accident caused in this situation as the fault of the back driver, not the front. If I make the light and am going the speed limit then don’t slow down and crash into this lady, it’s going to be judged my fault, even though in this case the lady was clearly going too slow in order to talk to the kid who was just walking home.

  72. fred schueler May 5, 2014 at 4:28 pm #

    Here’s another general free-range thing this suggests – I do auditory monitoring for frogs, which means I’m often parked along roadsides in places where I might be considered to have broken down, and one of the things I’ve learned to do is to look as much like I’m doing something understandable to passing divers as possible (generally writing in a notebook), so they won’t think I’m in trouble and stop to ask if they can help (in terms of frequencies of ‘stranger danger,’ only once in 22 years has a drunk couple and angry dogs in a pickup threatened to inconvenience me).

    I frankly have no idea what to suggest to the kid in this story to modify his behaviour so he’d look more like he “was doing something purposeful,” but maybe this should be discussed by the free-range community – the behaviours that will least draw the attention of remediable busybodies (it sounds like the OP here may be an unremediable busybody) will differ from community to community, but it might be useful to exchange ideas.

  73. Andy May 5, 2014 at 4:38 pm #

    @Steve So, you never used walking to get around the town for more then five minutes and never walked along busy road you say? Because your rant about sidewalks makes zero sense.

  74. Suzanne May 5, 2014 at 4:54 pm #

    It is totally creepy that some lady was driving slowly down the street talking to a kid through her window trying to detain him. I hope the police office talked to her about how scary that could be to a child – far worse than walking home from school. That city needs more sidewalks, so does Fort Wayne, IN.

  75. Donna May 5, 2014 at 5:02 pm #

    Steve, exactly how much time do you think Pilgrims spent dodging cars during their exploration of this country to make them even remotely germane to this conversation?

    Sidewalks are about pedestrian safety and not road maps to get places. The shoulder on this road looks sufficient enough that I wouldn’t worry about walking down it, but sidewalks and crosswalks are always nice when you are walking places.

  76. WSUSara May 5, 2014 at 5:47 pm #

    Well, this sucks, Lenore. I’m totally behind your mission, but this was actually my FB friend that posted this conversation, and several key things have been left out.

    1.) All comments telling these crazy people that they were crazy have been deleted from the thread shown above. Mine included.
    2.) This didn’t happen on such a picturesque little street. It is a fairly busy street with wide gravel shoulders – so still little danger – but it is highly traveled and there isn’t any grass, much less such a bucolic scene.
    3.) The original poster’s husband is a cop in town, so “calling the cops” isn’t like she called 911 in a panic. She called her husband’s on-duty friend to deal with it.

    It *IS* still crazy, and I it would have garnered equal outrage from your community in the complete original form. I sincerely hope that this was all edited out before it came to you and not after. A slant is one thing – lies by omission and/or fabrication is another.

  77. Kimberly Herbert May 5, 2014 at 6:33 pm #

    When I was about this boy’s age. I was riding my bike home from school. The last block was on a busy street that was a straightest way to the interstate. It is a narrow street, the speed limit was 35 mph, and the bike path was between 6″ and 1 foot. I had to ride on the wrong side of the road to use the bike path, and was a deep ditch to my left.

    One day the school bus passed me – and some bullies through books from the windows. I drove off the road and when I tried to get back on my wheel jammed and I fell into the ditch. Mr. Murphy stopped the bus and jumped down into the ditch. I was banged up but ok, my bike was not ridable. Our neighbor was leaving and saw the accident. He came over and told Mr. Murphy he would help me get the bike home and tell Mom what happened.

    My parents were ticked off – mostly because the bullies went unpunished. (That is another story of extreme abuse and having to get the courts and cops involved due) Dad was done with the exisiting Hike and Bike trail. He talked to our backyard neighbor and they told all the parents that all kids walking/biking to school should cut through our back yards (Dads had put a gate between the yards because when we both moved in the kids I was the oldest at 5. The gate made us playing with each other easier.) Just be sure to close the gates.

    Then the parents organized. Through pressure and petitions they got a proper hike and bike trail built through the neighborhood. The trail runs parallel to the major streets – but has about 2 feet of grass between the trail and the street. It is an extra wide side walk where you can easily ride a bike past a pedestrian walking the opposite direction. It hooks up with Memorial Park’s Hike and Bike trail.


    Hope the link works. This is where the accident happened and a view of the hike and bike trail. the street was the same width but didn’t have a curb, instead went into the grass and deep ditch were the sidewalks now are.

  78. Papilio May 5, 2014 at 6:42 pm #

    @Nadine: Yes. Just looking at the photo, I totally would have expected a cyclepath on that grassy area (as this road looks a bit far from houses, I didn’t expect a sidewalk per se).

    @Steve: “The main reason sidewalks don’t exist is because very few people would use them. If most people wanted sidewalks, they would be installed because of the uproar from the public”

    As E’s story shows, it also works the other way round: good infrastructure invites people to use it. Convenient infrastructure for cars invites people to drive, convenient & safe sidewalks and safe places to cross the street without waiting an eternity invite people to walk, and – but not that many of you would really know, sadly enough – convenient & safe cyclepaths invite people to cycle (or to use that same infrastructure with a handbike, or those electric wheelchair things, or trike, etc).

  79. BL May 5, 2014 at 6:52 pm #

    “If most people wanted sidewalks, they would be installed because of the uproar from the public”

    There’s a big gap between “wanting” and “uproar”.

  80. Gina May 5, 2014 at 8:58 pm #

    Interesting. Once, I was driving down Scottsdale Road (6 lanes, 45 mph) and I saw a little boy of about 9 walking on the sidewalk alone. I did stop and check in with him, but ONLY because I felt like something was off. In fact, he was lost, having left a restaurant thinking his parents had already left (long story)…I did call 911 and I assume it all turned out okay although I was not allowed to get any further information.
    1. I had a gut feeling something wasn’t right. I would not have stopped for a child of the same age who seemed ok and doing his thing. I have stopped for adults when I thought something was off as well. Usually, I’m on target.
    2. Had I been off the mark and the child said “I’m walking home from school, to the store, to my friend’s house, I would have said “ok” and gone on my way.
    All she had to do was ask him.
    But, on the other hand, we should all stop if we have a gut instinct that somebody needs help.

  81. Steve May 5, 2014 at 9:40 pm #

    Andy said:

    “@Steve So, you never used walking to get around the town for more then five minutes and never walked along busy road you say?”

    I walk a lot, Andy.

    That’s why I know most people in this country don’t walk much, if they can avoid it. I’ve lived in several states, large cities, small towns. I don’t know of any large city that has NO sidewalks downtown. But the fact remains, “most people” in the U.S. don’t do a lot of walking if they can avoid it.

    The absence of a sidewalk LIMITS where most people “think” they can walk.

    I’m just preaching against the notion that sidewalks must exist in order for a “safe route” to a destination to exist. That’s just not true.

    I walk on sidewalks. Sometimes I walk in the street when traffic is non-existent, or if I think it’s safe. I walk beside a road if I can stay a safe distance from traffic. But “safe distance” obviously means different things to different people since most people have no problem walking on sidewalks VERY close to vehicles that could easily drive up on the sidewalk and crush them to death. (I rarely use “painted” bike lanes when I’m biking because paint will not prevent a car from killing me.)


    Donna said…

    “Steve, exactly how much time do you think Pilgrims spent dodging cars during their exploration of this country to make them even remotely germane to this conversation?”

    Seriously, Donna? My point was that “obviously” the early settlers came to America WITHOUT the “instructions” and “guides” people today think are necessities. The early settlers walked wherever they felt like walking.

    You said:

    “Sidewalks are about pedestrian safety and not road maps to get places.”

    Yes, I agree — sidewalks are not road maps! And YES! Most people “equate” sidewalks with instant safety. But, many people also seem to think of sidewalks like streets on a map. If a sidewalk doesn’t exist, then they won’t walk that way.

    The absence of a sidewalk does not mean “unreasonable danger.” It only means, “I’m not used to walking where there are no sidewalks because I “don’t FEEL comfortable.”

    People aren’t comfortable doing “The Unfamiliar.”

    As WSUSara said in her comment: ” 2.) This didn’t happen on such a picturesque little street. It is a fairly busy street with wide gravel shoulders – so still little danger – but it is highly traveled and there isn’t any grass, much less such a bucolic scene.”

    Notice what she said — It’s NOT “a picturesque litte street.” It’s a “busy street.” This street has “wide gravel shoulders,” which to me means a “safe place to walk.” (and she thought so, too.) There “isn’t any grass.” Not a “bucolic scene.”


    Picture a pedestrian who WILL walk anywhere he wants to go, an individual who doesn’t need a bucolic setting with grass and sidewalk to FEEL safe.


    Picture the average pedestrain who will “not” walk somewhere unless there is a sidewalk.

    Which one has an internal map with more options for independence?


    Papilio said,

    “…convenient & safe cyclepaths invite people to cycle”

    I agree only that “convenient & safe cyclepaths invite people to cycle” – IF they are already walkers and cyclers to begin with. And when you compare the number of people who walk and cycle to the group who doesn’t, having those bike paths are hardly worth installing and maintaining.

    I love walking and I love riding my bike. But most people just don’t.

    Sidewalks have been around all my life, and they might have been “invitations” but few have embraced them.


    BL said:

    “If most people wanted sidewalks, they would be installed because of the uproar from the public”

    There’s a big gap between “wanting” and “uproar”.


    So true.

    And that’s my point, if 3/4 of the people in a neighborhood showed up at a city council meeting demanding sidewalks, they could get them.

  82. Jenny Islander May 5, 2014 at 10:14 pm #

    Last week, after school and chores, I set my daughter loose for the afternoon. She buckled on her helmet, checked her bike’s tires, and took off for (of course) the limits of the defined safe zone. Her father and I have made sure that she understands where bikes may go and where they may not, basic safety in traffic, etc.

    Now. At one edge of town, the road, which has one lane going in each direction and either guard rails or shallow ditches along its entire length, passes through several miles of unbroken woodland. People who live on the other side of the woods regularly cycle in to work. However, there are bears in those woods and I am not comfortable having my 10-year-old alone on a bike in bear country. She may go no further than the scenic lookout at the edge of the woods, just past city limits and within sight of downtown. Again, adults bike further than this all the time, a white line away from drivers who are going 55+, but I was keeping her to the 45 mph zone and the edge of town.



    And then the police called ME.

    Of course my first thought was, fleetingly, of the worst. But after “This is Officer Horton,” the cop said, “I have your daughter here with me.” So I started asking questions. Had she taken off her helmet? Veered into traffic? Been seen doing some kind of silly stunt? Ridden onto private property?


    I had him put her on the line and asked her if in her opinion she could see signs of impending rain (we taught her how to read the local weather at an early age). She said yes and I told her to come on home. The officer expressed concern about her ability to get home safely (a mile and a half from here and half of that on sidewalks). He offered a ride, which she accepted. But they took a very long time to get here, and frankly I was worried that he had decided to “save” her from the “neglectful mother” who was letting her daughter use the bike lane like anyone else.

    OTOH, as my husband says, it is comforting that so many people were watching out for a kid out alone on a school day. (Like many homeschoolers, I find that the lessons for each day can be completed well before the public school day is over.) One of them even called me and explained that she was worried that my girl was running away.

    But for heaven’s sake, why did she call the police first, instead of me?

  83. Yocheved May 5, 2014 at 10:45 pm #

    “This is what they call white people problems.” Amen lollipoplover, amen!

    This is also a good part of why America has an obesity epidemic. OMG, kids are WALKING, call the cops!


  84. Tasha Batsford May 6, 2014 at 12:47 am #

    I am so glad the police didn’t do what I feared I was going to read and add to the over reaction.

  85. Katie G May 6, 2014 at 6:27 am #

    FYI, much of Evesham Rd does in fact have sidewalks. I’ve driven its length more times than I can count (unless it doesn’t change names when it makes a bend right where I turn off…never cared one way or the other about that.)

  86. Miriam May 6, 2014 at 7:53 am #

    I am 75. I am continually astonished and dismayed that so many parents have actually “bought into” the fear factor that has been carefully planted. As it says in a song in the show “South Pacific”……..you’ve got to be taught, to be afraid…………. and that is certainly what has happened. Why aren’t children taught to take care of themselves; age appropriate, and be a responsible “walker” like in years before? I know, I know, all of your first answers will be “well times have changed”. I have heard it many times. What has changed is parents and parenting.

  87. E May 6, 2014 at 8:16 am #

    @Steve, I guess we’re all agreeing most points, but I don’t think it’s unusual to prefer sidewalks and avoid (even completely) areas along busy roads without them. If there are no sidewalks, there will be no crosswalks. In the area near our home (that I mentioned before), we did not cross the busy intersection before their were crosswalks. We knew that drivers were not expecting foot traffic. Same could be said for sections of road w/o sidewalks (even if there are gravel shoulders)…drivers are not expecting pedestrians and given the amount of distracted driving (especially in sections with no traffic signals), drifting off is not at all uncommon (I witnessed this yesterday and watched how the driver overcorrected as he approached me driving in the opposite direction…fun!)

    @WSUSara — nice to see your comments and I agree. Most of the anecdotes shared here are likely skewed by whomever shared them with Lenore to begin with. That’s what I always use the situations discussed here as “food for thought” rather than gospel.

  88. Crystal May 6, 2014 at 9:13 am #

    Has anyone ever noticed that all the busybodies who make Free Range parents’ lives even harder are always fond of multiple exclamation points?

    I see this in my Facebook posts all the time. Just the other day a woman was castigating the scene-writers from the PBS show “Call the Midwife” for depicting European mothers leaving their babies in their strollers outside. And every little outrageous sentence ended thusly: “!!!” Can someone please explain this connection between the loves of both hyper-safety and hyper-punctuation?

  89. Beth May 6, 2014 at 10:56 am #

    The original post says: “So I put my hazard lights on and called to police and followed him slowly till I started to talk to him through the car window to stall him till police would arrive….. The officer was like ‘I think it’s ok he walking home,,,’ I was like I’m sorry not on a busy road!”

    @WSUSara, nothing in the above says “I called X, who was on duty and is a friend of >husband’s name<." In fact, she calls him "police" and "officer" and chooses to argue with husband's "friend" about whether it's not OK for this kid to walk.

    Seems to me that she tried to be as inflammatory and accolade-seeking as she could.

  90. E May 6, 2014 at 1:41 pm #

    @Beth….wasn’t that Sara’s point? That the article as posted both edited out contrary responses except Ed’s (and left in the ones in agreement) as well as changed a bit about how it was presented/happened and the image was not correct at all? I have no idea if the actual post was edited or perhaps the FB group knows that the OP is connected to the police and it was presumed? It doesn’t say she dialed 911. If I had a neighbor who was married to a cop, I think I’d know that when she called police, it might not be frantically dialing 911.

    The point is context matters.

  91. Buffy May 6, 2014 at 3:02 pm #

    As usual E, you’re on the anti-Lenore bandwagon. Still can’t figure out why you’re here.

  92. Beth May 6, 2014 at 3:16 pm #

    E and Sara, so you’re saying that even the original post was edited, along with all the comments? I’m not so sure. I think this FB poster wanted to get the maximum “you are so awesome, you did the right thing, you’re amazing and caring and just the all around bestest person on the planet” comments so she omitted the fact that the cop was a friend of her cop husband. And nothing, anywhere, in the post or in my comment, mentions a frantic call to 911, so I don’t know where you got that idea.

  93. Jen Juhasz May 6, 2014 at 3:33 pm #

    I read this post yesterday and mentally parked it as ‘more to think about’ in my head. While driving my son to school (we live in super-rural country – the nearest gas is a 15 minute drive…nearest school is double that. Approaching the school I see two young boys walking themselves happily to school – one of them practicing his balancing skills on a concrete barrier that was on the shoulder. I’d place their ages at, or around 8 and 10. There are no sidewalks anywhere here. The road speed averages 40mph, though you’re “supposed” to slow down when approaching the school, these boys were outside the school zone still. So, I couldn’t help reflecting on your article and how, if some city-busy-body-matronly-type drove by she would immediately see the worst and speed dial some official to check things out. Especially when you consider the ‘convenience’ store across the street from the school that has many “men” (and women) parking to grab a cup of coffee or donut for their commute to town.
    It’s funny how both sides shake their heads at the other. Us ‘country folk’ are proud of our independent, strong, resilient and resourceful kids and are absolutely puzzled by the coddling and smothering we see happening in town. Town folks are a fiercely protective and scary bunch (so it seems) – seeing the worst in everyone and everything and plastering a fake smile on their face while their insides are shaking, with a strong desire to tattle to any authority figure over any infraction.

  94. Papilio May 6, 2014 at 3:54 pm #

    @Steve: I read this and thought of you…:
    “Although children, older adults, and people with disabilities make up a large percentage of the population (up to 37 percent of most States), their needs are seldom adequately considered in transportation system planning and design”
    Isn’t it kinda pathetic that they would have to cause uproar to get what they need to do something as basic as move around independently?

  95. SOA May 6, 2014 at 4:06 pm #

    Ed is the voice of reason. I have often been that lone voice of reason and felt ganged up on when it comes to facebook arguments. Have had to block or unfriend people over it. Don’t get me started.

    That road has a huge grassy area that is perfectly safe to walk on. Not like roads with zero shoulder. I could understand if the road was like that her concern, but this road has a huge shoulder.

  96. Nicole 2 May 6, 2014 at 5:39 pm #

    My brother’s school is located at a very busy intersection. There are two routes he can take, one involves no sidewalk for about a block along one of the busy roads (I’d like a sidewalk, but there is plenty of shoulder to walk on).

    Somehow he, plus the dozens of other children, get to school safely every single day. I don’t know how it happens.

  97. Dan May 6, 2014 at 6:10 pm #

    I walked to school when I was 7. We don’t have sidewalks or signals in our city (by design). All the kids walked or rode bikes to school. Nobody ever got hit or kidnapped.

    The only pedestrian I ever knew who was hit was in the next town over. In a crosswalk. At a signal. With a WALK sign!

  98. JP Merzetti May 6, 2014 at 9:12 pm #

    That hadda been me, I would have been long gone before any cop showed up. Clean outa sight.

    But seriously. Car cultured autopia. People don’t walk. Kids don’t walk. A pedestrian (of any age) strikes panic-attackers as weird, strange and unusual.

    Many places now are not pedestrian-friendly. Often by design. Nobody cared enough to think about, or imagine – people walking.
    People. Walking.
    A 7 year-old boy is a “people”, too. Imagine that.

    And yeah. At that age, I used to stroll all the way out of town, occasionally. The north highway, with no sidewalks. The governmental experimental farm was out there, and it was just too cool a place to stay away from.

    I’d love it to bits if some busybody had 57 conniptions along with 23 exclamation marks over the simple fact that so much about where so many live just ain’t walker-friendly!!?!!!!!!! (for man, woman – or child)
    but that ain’t never gonna happen.

  99. baby-paramedic May 6, 2014 at 11:55 pm #

    Do your cars in America regularly veer off the bitumen road and onto the grassy areas? But are magically stopped by the cement of side-walks?

    Around here we largely don’t have sidewalks, but we also largely do not have people randomly veering onto the large grassy patches beside the road trying to mow down pedestrians. Side-walks would not make walking around these parts any safer.

    When I read the story I thought it was one of those sort of areas where there is road, then no where safe to walk (so, in the tropics for example, the sides of the road are usually ditches. No where safe to walk).

  100. Omer Golan-Joel May 7, 2014 at 4:06 am #

    Meanwhile in the West Bank…


  101. wombat94 May 7, 2014 at 8:38 am #

    I originally started to post a follow-up to WSUSara on Monday, and thought better of it, but now I wish I had.

    Two points to make. WSUSara… I don’t doubt your contention that the story/thread was edited. It would be interesting for those of us here if you could provide and unedited version since you have access to the complete thread on Facebook (please remove names/etc for privacy of the participants, but I would love to see the complete context of the conversation). This is a sincere request, and I feel the context of the complete conversation is important in the larger issue of free range vs. helicopter parenting as a societal issue – there will ALWAYS be people who are going to do extremely “wrong” things from the any perspective. What really matters is how the community responds to these requests.

    I’m discouraged that the police officer and the school appear to have capitulated to the idea that the student was in danger – at least as far as we can see from the comments that were posted here.

    As to the photo accompanying the story and the makeup of Springdale Road, I would guess that the person who forwarded the Facebook thread also sent the photo to Lenore.

    The way that WordPress formatted the photo (shot out of the front windshield of a car) does appear to make the road seem somewhat less busy than it usually is, but if you click through to the complete, original photo, it is a very good representation of Springdale road at that point along its route – about on par with the Google Maps street view photos of the same segment. It shows a road with two main traffic lanes (one in each direction) a wide asphalt shoulder to the right, with a wide grassy area beyond that. In the other direction, there is a main traffic lane and a right turn lane adjacent to a sidewalk – no shoulder, and only a 6-inch concrete curb separating the turning lane from the sidewalk.

    I think that the description of the road from Sara is incorrect. The road DOES indeed have an asphalt shoulder on the side the child was walking on – not gravel – and there IS a wide grassy area adjacent to the should for MOST of the distance between Morris Drive and the Holly Ravine shopping center. It is true that there are two segments where there is no grass to walk on, but they are brief and total (by my google maps calculation and recollection of that road) less than 100 yards of the total distance.

    I’d really love to understand the context of the original Facebook conversation for the reasons I already stated, but after consulting with friends of mine who still live in the immediate area of this incident, this is NOT a dangerous stretch of road for pedestrians.

    Yes, it is busy. Yes it might not be the most friendly in terms of sidewalk construction (sidewalk only on one side of the road), but it is flat, it generally has enough clearance for safe walking adjacent to the road and it has very good sight lines for drivers to be able to see and be aware of pedestrians.

  102. E May 7, 2014 at 9:07 am #

    @Buffy — I’m not anti-Lenore. What I said is that the site gives me food for thought (you can choose to believe me or not) but I don’t take the scenarios given to Lenore as gospel. Should I? Even in the story about the HS Volleyball girl who was claiming she was simply being a DD for a friend turned out to be false. I was all in on the hypocrisy of that situation, and that was an actual story covered by a newspaper and TV station. The school’s hands were tied (because of privacy issues) and then later it was discovered that the girl had lied and she had been drinking. Like I said, it’s food for thought….what are my children’s school policies on this, what can I take from this situation to educate myself and my kids.

    I’m presuming that even Lenore wants her site to be food for thought — giving people scenarios and situations to help broaden their thinking.

    I never suggested that Lenore edited the story, I have no idea. I’m sympathetic to someone who knows the situation and feels it’s not being portrayed correctly. You’ll notice that neither of us suggested that this type of “outrage” was appropriate. I see the same thing in my neighborhood listserv every time a white van is in our neighborhood. I’ve seen people react (OVER react) because an AT&T salesman came to their home (with IDs) and they thought it was a ruse and didn’t back down/apologize even after another neighbor said they’d actually processed an order for service with them.

    I’m constantly battling “worst first” thinking in my own home. My husband is a lock the doors/windows person and sometimes behaves like the second I leave a back door open and go out the front, someone will leap from the bushes, come inside and wait to ambush us. He’s battled our post-HS sons about curfews because he’s afraid they won’t lock up properly. I’m WAY on the side of Free Range realistic thinking.

    If this site is for group think, then maybe I am in the wrong place. But my opinion is that something can be learned from all posts, even if I don’t always agree.

  103. E May 7, 2014 at 9:19 am #

    @Beth, I have no idea what was on the FB group obviously. I think it’s good to know (and should be welcomed by this audience) that many other people responded as everyone here has…that the women’s reaction (and method of sharing — I’m not even sure why she would share it honestly) was extreme and unnecessary. If the community that is the FB group had lots of people saying it wasn’t the kind of risk she’s suggested, that’s a good thing.

  104. CrazyCatLady May 7, 2014 at 11:00 am #

    I don’t let my kids use the toaster either. They are 9, 12 and 14.

    I don’t let them use the toaster because a) the 14 year doesn’t eat bread. b) the 12 year old has ADHD and would forget it, and c) the toaster is about 80+ years old and has no turn off switch and requires that the toast be turned around to toast both sides. D. I have already started some toast on fire!

    I don’t actually use it either. We have a toaster oven that my kids can all use, and I got the toaster as a joke because my husband can’t stand the toaster oven.

    I have no doubt that the younger two kids actually HAVE made toast when I have left them home alone, just because the toaster is so cool. At that point, I suspect they are less likely to be distracted. They do know what to do if they start a fire.

  105. Buffy May 7, 2014 at 3:53 pm #

    @E, thank you for your very thoughtful post. I feel like I understand your viewpoint better now than from other posts that made it seem like you only visit this site to find something to pick apart. I apologize for my assumptions.

  106. E May 7, 2014 at 7:47 pm #

    @Buffy, no problem. Thanks for taking the time to read my long reply. I can understand why it may come across that way because I may not respond as much on a topic that there really is nothing left to say but “how ridiculous” (like the next post about the guy pulled over to make a phone call).

    I also tend to have sympathy for the schools because their plethora of “safety rules” are there because the school system is afraid of things and I’ve seen first hand how parents tend to make the job of the poor teachers and administrators harder. I don’t disagree with how silly some things become, but I also know a lot of crazy parents, lol.

    Thanks again for reading!

  107. Josie May 8, 2014 at 5:53 am #

    This worries me because I have a 7 year old who also walks to school. W actually love too far away for her to walk the whole way, but I drop her off before and after school about 8 minutes walk away and she walks to the same place to meet me in the afternoon. She has to cross maybe 4 side roads but no major roads, and it is a straight walk with no corners or turns. It is really important to me that she does this because a) it’s a bit of exercise and outdoor time b) it’s a great way to get her body and mind ready for school and c) it,s good thinking dreaming time. One lovely mother (and I say that with sincerity) has already offered to drive her to meet me so she doesn’t have to work. I really really hope it doesn’t go further than this.

    I live in Australia, btw.

  108. Warren May 8, 2014 at 10:43 am #

    One of the things we have run into is those who have moved to the rural areas from the city bring their inner city fears with them. And though they moved for the lifestyle, they refuse to accept it.

  109. Jenny Islander May 8, 2014 at 2:19 pm #

    @Warren: I know, right? For years, we’ve had a problem with suburbanites who come here talking about the wonders of small-town life, and the first thing they do is put up a giant privacy fence and disappear behind it when they aren’t at work. Or they don’t bother with a privacy fence because nobody ever sees them on their lawns–as soon as they get home, the entire family jumps into Electronicaland with a break for dinner. And if you suggest that maybe their kids might like to ride around downtown on their bikes with your kids, they talk about safety, by which they mean mad snatchers, not helmets and traffic. And don’t even get me started on the Coast Guard moms who never, but NEVER, leave the base except to go from their cars into a building and back to their cars again, because going on a hike would mean being eaten by a bear.

  110. Jenny Islander May 8, 2014 at 2:27 pm #

    And local parks are full of weirdos (Hey!), and beaches are wastelands of sharps and sewage (not here they’re not!), and local plays and concerts are not a welcoming venue because at some other duty station they didn’t like Coasties. No, we like you fine, if you’d just talk to us and quit looking at us like we’re Martians for saying, “Hi, how are you.”

  111. Craig May 8, 2014 at 3:04 pm #

    This is a good example of a woman who is a product of conditioning by TV writers. This really is a serious problem. Narcissistic mothers conditions by decades of watching cop shows or other types of TV that subtly conditions people to think that the stories writers create for their jobs every week are in fact real and the weekly portrayal of these stories makes people think this stuff happens every day. What she is doing is called projection. She needs therapy. I think there should be a busybody law, where anyone who calls police out of pathological projection should be fined, forced to pay for the cost of the police response, banned from having cable for a year on first offense and forced to undrgo therapy for 5 years.

  112. Craig May 8, 2014 at 3:11 pm #

    It seems that these days most parents are seriously screwed up people. The dangerous part is that this pathology is seen as NORMAL. I would teach my kids how to identify people like this who are psychologically and emotionally stunted and stay far away from them.

  113. hineata May 9, 2014 at 1:01 am #

    @Warren and Jenny Islander – gosh, the Western world must share many things in common! A real estate agent in one of the small towns local to where I grew up was complaining about pretty much the same thing – people moving out of the city for small town living, and then complaining people are nosy when they ask for the details of your life. Whaddya think happens in small towns? People mind their own business? :-).
    And those wonderful folk who buy a ‘lifestyle block’ so they can experience the peace and quiet of the countryside, and then whine when the dairy farmer next door milks at five a.m. (as he has done for the past thirty years). Or the pig farmer carries out his regular business..Or, my personal favourite, the vineyard owner who got taken to court for ‘visual pollution’ for daring to cover his vines in red netting (as well as bird protection, the red helped with some facet of grape-growing, I forget what)….

    Some people should be confined to city limits.

  114. Jenny Islander May 9, 2014 at 11:20 am #

    @hineata: And they come here for the “wilderness experience” and are the direct cause of the death of two bears, because the morons decide that parking en masse on the side of the road to watch the cute little bear cub, while Mom is on the other side of the road wigging out, is totes OK. And then the rangers have to resolve the situation, and their budget for dart-and-transport and also for raising orphaned cubs has been used up for the year, so they show up with large-bore rifles . . .

  115. Jenny Islander May 9, 2014 at 11:23 am #

    Oh! On a less depressing note, there was that one person who tried to report the neighbor for bringing down his property values, because he moved in next door to a commercial fisherman who was well enough off that he could own a great big lot where he could store his equipment without having to rent storage somewhere else. They’re called crab pots, genius.

    It got all the way to the Borough Assembly, probably for the lulz, because people laughed about it for weeks.

  116. Ann Botsis May 10, 2014 at 1:19 pm #

    I second this quote from Paul : “As a free-range parent, I’ve given up a lot of fears, but one fear I’ll never lose is the worry that sooner or later, one of these overconcerned parents is going to take an interest in my kids.”