Before your children walk to school on the first day, consider the benefits and the potential problems that might occur. Resist Attack offers some solutions that might make walking to school a more enjoyable and safe daily routine for young students.
Many parents enjoy the benefit of living close to their children’s school. In fact, the proximity of local schools might even be a motivating factor when deciding where to move. There are many benefits of living that close—but also some potential drawbacks. This is particularly true if your kids live close enough that they can walk to school. Here are some of the benefits, potential problems, and solutions you should be aware of before you send them off alone.
Among the benefits of allowing your children to walk to school, you can count on increased exercise and independence. We are all familiar with rising childhood obesity problems in the US, and allowing your children to walk to school allows a little extra daily exercise. Likewise, you can count on increased independence as a fringe benefit of allowing your child to walk to school, whether they return home to an empty house—as “latch-key kids”—or you’re at home with their after-school snack waiting for them.
The potential problems that may be related to having your child walk to school are what stand in the way of many parents allowing their children to walk to school, even if the distance is not far. Even in the nicest and safest neighborhoods, predators may target students. There have been several cases of children being abducted when walking just a few blocks away. Stray dogs or unsafe drivers may endanger your child during their daily trek to school. Additionally, some students may take advantage of an unsupervised walk to school as a way to cut class or engage in other activities that you wouldn’t condone, such as bullying, substance abuse, or vandalism.
First, find other students in your neighborhood to walk with your children. The larger the group of children, the larger the likelihood they will arrive on campus safely. Predators are more likely to target students walking alone than they are to attack students walking in large groups. If your student is walking with others, he or she will also be more noticeable and less likely to be the victim of an unsafe driver. For those students who are likely to become truant or engage in other activities, the added sense of community may help hold them more accountable. That said it’s a good idea to make sure that you know the children your student is walking to school with. Only allow your student to walk with other students whom you trust.
Additional solutions include creating a “walking pool.” This idea works similarly to a carpool, but on foot. Parents take turns walking with the children to school. A responsible adult ensures that the students walk to school safely and arrive on time. If you do decide to implement this idea, consider preparing the adult with safety equipment, which can include a bright orange safety vest, crossing flags, or even a personal alarm. In fact, personal alarms are also a great solution for children walking to school without an adult, and they even come in child-friendly animal shapes.
Walking to school is something of a rite of passage for many families and communities, and it can contribute to physical, emotional, and psychological strength. If you’re considering allowing your student to walk to school, you can also contact your local police department or community watch to discuss potential safety strategies.
The Resist Attack Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charity dedicated to helping women protect themselves from violence. Since being founded by James and Tara Shaw in 2011, the Resist Attack Foundation has been helping women in many ways. Their S.A.F.E. program aims to provide women with the educational and physical tools that can help keep them free from harm.