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Why We Shouldn't Care About the End of Walking to School

The New York Times, over the weekend, shined a light on one of our great modern scourges: the lack of kids who walk to school. Now, I don't mean to quarrel with those who believe that children could stand to get up and move a bit more often, but the passion that this issue generates confuses me.

The Times took the position that parents are shuttling their children to school out of an overwhelming fear of abduction, driven by fear-mongering media coverage of kidnappings, throwing anecdote after anecdote about fearful parents and schools. During the golden age of school transport (1969, according to the Times), 41 percent of kids got to school under their own power. By the start of the new millennium, that number dropped to 13 percent. A poll by "The Today Show", based on the article, was a bit less clear: 37 percent said "no way" to walking, 32 percent said "why not," and the rest said it depended on the kids.

Those poll numbers are probably not all that different from what the numbers were in 1969 (where, if you do the math, most kids were driven to school anyway). Children aren't being chauffeured around now because of some new, widespread fear of strangers. A lot has changed (and, probably, changed for the worse) in the last three or four decades. There are fewer and fewer "neighborhood schools" that are even walkable or ride-able. Schedules -- for kids and parents -- have become tighter. And forget the one-in-a-million chance of kidnapping: roads are not the safest place for pedestrians and cyclists, and an uncommonly large percentage of those pedestrian deaths are in kids 15 and under.

I don't want to make the argument that walking to school is inherently dangerous and shouldn't ever be considered. It's just that there's nothing wrong with driving kids (or hustling them to the bus stop). Nearly everyone I know who drives their kids does it because it is more convenient. The pro-walking argument seems to lead us back to the old-fogey cliche: "I used to have to walk to school. 5 miles. Uphill both ways. In the snow!" But walking to school is not intrinsically good just because that's how we did it, back in the day.

I drive my kids now. So what?

By Brian Reid |  September 15, 2009; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Elementary Schoolers , Safety , Schools
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Comments


I have more to say on this, but I will open with, maybe that's why we, and our children are so fat now? Convenient doesn't always mean better. We live less than a mile from school and there are no sidewalks. I think it is an absolute shame our kids can't walk to school.

Posted by: moxiemom1 | September 15, 2009 7:55 AM | Report abuse

The question really is - so what? Why are you so defensive about driving your kids to school?

I don't have any old fogey retort, however some of the parents I know coddle their kids. They never let them go outside, walk, run or play. They drive everywhere, even up the street (1 block) to the bus stop and sit in the car waiting for the bus even when the weather is perfectly beautiful. So, if you want your kid to live in the "bubble" and shuttle them around so that they don't experience things like weather and people - so be it.

I wish my kids could walk to school - it is 4 blocks but there is no crossing guard and I can't walk with them most mornings. They walk up to the bus stop and ride the 4 blocks to school.

Posted by: cheekymonkey | September 15, 2009 8:03 AM | Report abuse

I think it's the lack of schools close to neighborhoods. We live in a rural area, so naturally, kids don't walk miles and miles to get to school. And, in the closest urban center, kids are bussed right past schools in their neighborhoods in the name of (court ordered) racial diversity. Neighborhoods tend to form along racial lines, so if you want diversity, you have to get out of your neighborhood (at least in this area).

And it's not just walking to school, either. In the time when more kids walked to school, more parents walked to work or to do the shopping, too. Communities were more insular. I think it's more of a reflection of global changes in our society than a reaction to the fear-mongering about kidnapping.

Posted by: VaLGaL | September 15, 2009 8:09 AM | Report abuse

Seems a pretty slanted reading of a throwaway peice meant to generate uneccesary conversation about a relatively uncontroversial practice.

The Times peice takes care to note that constraints exist in many situations that prevent the possibility of some children walking. It goes on to point to several anecdotes where walking is entirely possible but parents rationalize driving in the name of safety. You're right to ask "so what"? Parents want to be crazy, or feel like they're being safe - whatever.

Probably would have been far more interesting to highlight the one sort of interesting part of the article - the story of the kid who walked a mile to soccer practice, and was picked up by police, who chastized the mother.

Posted by: 06902 | September 15, 2009 8:30 AM | Report abuse

Seems a pretty slanted reading of a throwaway peice meant to generate uneccesary conversation about a relatively uncontroversial practice.

Posted by: 06902 | September 15, 2009 8:30 AM | Report abuse


Bingo!

"The Times peice takes care to note that ..."

"Peice" again!

Where you absent from school for the "i before e" lesson?

Posted by: jezebel3 | September 15, 2009 8:37 AM | Report abuse

"I used to have to walk to school. 5 miles. Uphill both ways. In the snow!"

You left out "... In July. In New Orleans."
(Significant, of course, because there are neither snowstorms nor hills in New Orleans.)

Whatever. If kids live close enough to school and there are no major streets to cross, they walk. If not, it's take the bus or drive/be driven. That's our county's formula. It's not a big deal.

In 1969 I walked to school every day; it was about a mile. Of course we were living in an Army housing area in Munich, so safety wasn't an issue. We moved to Louisiana and my school was 2.5 miles away because of busing; I actually preferred to walk home and my parents let me because they considered it safe. So what?

It is what it is. Or, they are who we thought they were. Your choice.

Posted by: ArmyBrat1 | September 15, 2009 8:46 AM | Report abuse

Where you absent from school for the "i before e" lesson?


Posted by: jezebel3 | September 15, 2009 8:37 AM | Report abuse

Apologies, I was raised by wolves near Moosejaw, and taught English by a nomadic Inuit witch doctor - great hunter, lousy speller...

Posted by: 06902 | September 15, 2009 8:58 AM | Report abuse

"They drive everywhere, even up the street (1 block) to the bus stop and sit in the car waiting for the bus even when the weather is perfectly beautiful."

I have a coworker who does the same thing. boggles my mind.

but generally (other than the ridiculous coddling), i don't really have an opinion one way or the other.

i view our own decisions in the larger context. and i count on my wife to call me out if i'm starting to act ridiculous.

Posted by: interestingidea1234 | September 15, 2009 9:02 AM | Report abuse

Apologies, I was raised by wolves near Moosejaw, and taught English by a nomadic Inuit witch doctor - great hunter, lousy speller...

Posted by: 06902 | September 15, 2009 8:58 AM | Report abuse

The nomadic Inuit witch doctor was a character on "Murder, She Wrote", played by Debbie Reynolds.

Posted by: jezebel3 | September 15, 2009 9:03 AM | Report abuse

I kind of mourn the death of walking to school in our family - both my husband and I walked to school but it's unlikely our son will both because of distance but, as you said, more because of time... because he's in daycare, and we need to get home to make dinner.

However I also remember getting in a boatload of trouble walking home, so it kind of cuts both ways.

I think a lot of articles that pinpoint a fear of abduction completely miss the point. Kids are not playing outside because we are paying people to take care of them instead. We are largely two-income families working longer hours. That's the sea change.

Posted by: Shandra1 | September 15, 2009 9:43 AM | Report abuse

I read the story too and had conflicting thoughts. I walk my son to the bus because the district split our neighborhood in half and now my son goes to a school about 4 miles away. Yet even if he went to the school that is a mile away he couldn't walk because there are no sidewalks! I do, however, walk him to the bus stop. Him being 6 years old I am not comfortable with him being out there by himself for two reasons: cars drive way too fast on our streets and I'm sure he'd be playing on the curb if I weren't there and yes I am frightened of him being picked up by a stranger.

However, I do let him walk two houses down to play with our neighbors son by himself unlike one woman in the article.

If the school were within walking distance, we both would walk to school. But with highways, county roads and really fast traffic it's becoming impossible for most people to do so!

http://suburbtopia.blogspot.com

Posted by: starrena | September 15, 2009 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Walking is exercise. Having active kids is a good thing. Hence, elimination of walking, even if in the pursuit of safety or efficiency, is a bad thing.

My sons future elementary school, assuming we don't move in the mean time, is about 2 miles away. Most of it is fine with the exception of two busy intersections (Quaker@King/Braddock and Quaker@Seminary in Alexandria, VA).

I'd rather have live, tubby kids than slim, dead ones. So, I'm trying to thread that needle. Probably for first few years, they'll be dropped off as it's on my way to work. Perhaps it'll be a big deal when they're old enough to walk to school on their own.

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | September 15, 2009 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Just some context-I live in suburban Ohio and many school districts here are cutting service for kids who live between one and two miles away from school due to budget issues. Many communities do not have sidewalks and start school before the sun comes up, leading to, I think, dangerous walking conditions for kids. I'm an adult and I won't walk two miles on a gravel road shoulder in the dark. Every year, there are stories in the paper here about kids who are struck by cars and seriously injured or killed by motorists who didn't see them walking on the shoulder.

Add this to the fact that many local districts -require- parents or another caregiver to meet the bus for kids in K-5 both going to and coming home from school, it's easier to find a few other parents and carpool, assuming your car is big enough to meet our state's new law to have kids up to 8 years old and 4'9" in boosters. I'd love for my kid to walk himself to and from the bus stop, (our neighborhood does have sidewalks) but the school district won't let him do that until middle school.

Posted by: sjneal | September 15, 2009 10:24 AM | Report abuse

My stepson lives 2.5 blocks away from school with sidewalks and crossing guards. He is in Gr. 2 so not old but I have seen younger kids walking to school so it is not THAT radical. Rather than allow him to walk to school on the days his mother works, he is driven to our house and then I drive him about an hour out of my way to his school.

Ummm... yeah.... no thought to finding another family on the street with kids that he could walk with (they say he is not capable).... nope... just ask good ol' me to step up. And yes, I made it absolutely clear in June that I can no longer be relied on to do it. They are completely upset with me and finally scrambling (the week school started) to try to find some kind of alternative.

And before you think I am a total b*tch.... I have spent the last 3 years performing all kinds of 'favours' (some with considerable inconvenience attached) and getting little in return. I finally figured out that the only time he is nice to me is when he needs something. My desire to pull more than my share of weight has reduced dramatically this summer and is not likely to pick up any time soon.

Posted by: Billie_R | September 15, 2009 10:50 AM | Report abuse

My desire to pull more than my share of weight has reduced dramatically this summer and is not likely to pick up any time soon.

Posted by: Billie_R | September 15, 2009 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Bravo!

Posted by: jezebel3 | September 15, 2009 10:56 AM | Report abuse

I think walking is a great way for kids to learn independence and to see the world beyond the windows of the minivan. It gives them some time out in the weather and find that they will not melt. The exercise is just a bonus.

I agree with Brian that the stranger danger factor is just a smoke screen for parents seeking convenience (that would be the parents' convenience, of course).

Posted by: KS100H | September 15, 2009 11:12 AM | Report abuse

I'm conflicted as well. I take more of a tree-hugger view in the debate though. Rather than sitting at bus stops spewing exhaust or driving gas guzzling minivan less than a mile to school let's get outdoors and walk to school, when appropriate of course. In a way, you could even spin it as a patriotic act...walk to school, save gas, reduce dependence on foreign oil.

I'll admit that even these weighty issues are hard to fathom at 6 am when you know you can push the snooze button two extra times if you just drive the kids to school. :)

Posted by: LiliKang | September 15, 2009 11:29 AM | Report abuse

My hubby and I were looking for a new house this past winter and were just about to make an offer on one I loved when I found out a girl was kidnapped after she got off the bus there 10-15 years ago. I know that is a long time and things happen everywhere but the case was never solved and I couldn't shake the feeling that the person who did it could still be around there so we walked away from the house. I read about the case a lot online and now i think I would drive my kids to school or wait at the bus stop with them.

Posted by: sunflower571 | September 15, 2009 11:47 AM | Report abuse

DD's school will not allow students to bike to school unless they're already walkers and in the 4th grade. We're about a mile away, so in the bus zone and not quite 4th grade. I doubt it would be an issue if I biked with her to drop her off on my way to work and did the same on the way home. And I think she's perfectly capable of walking to school, but would rather wait until she's a little older and has a better sense of responsibility about getting there on time.
Side note: Bravo Billie!

Posted by: StrollerMomma | September 15, 2009 12:11 PM | Report abuse

I think the value of walking to school is overrated. For most of my childhood, my sister and I were driven to school because we attended Catholic schools that didn't run buses and were 3 to 5 miles away. This made almost no difference in our activity levels: We played outside at recess, played outside for most of our lunch period, and when we got home after school we played outside with the neighborhood kids until dinnertime (and, depending on the season, after dinner too). The loss of THAT kind of playtime (due to overscheduling and/or no place to play) is what ails our kids today, not walking a few blocks to and from school.

Posted by: PLozar | September 15, 2009 12:30 PM | Report abuse

we walk to school every day. it's easier, actually than driving. there are sidewalks and a zillion other kids who walk. today we drove, as son was really tired. honestly, we leave the same time, and the carpool line is long, so we get there almost the same time.
he takes the bus home, typically.
we love so much walking to school that when we're looking at movign (due to job) one of the first things DH asks is: can we walk to school?
It's great and soon enough he will walk alone. alone being relative, given that about 25 kids within 2 blocks of us walk.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | September 15, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Billie, I'd of told your husband and his ex to go pound sand on the driving the stepson to school thing. I don't think it had anything to do with worrying about your stepson, but sticking it to you. I thought you indicated this situation was getting worse and you were looking to get out? I hope this is still the case, you still have time to meet someone and be happy, or just be happy on your own.

Posted by: cheekymonkey | September 15, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

It's not just walking to school; that's kind of the tail wagging the dog. It's about how the ways we build our communities shapes our lives in ways we don't expect or even think about. When I was a kid, every street had sidewalks, and the major intersections within 3-4 blocks of the school had crossing guards. And everyone walked (or took the bus, if you were too far); kids who needed their mommies to drop them off got laughed at.

Now how many communities even have sidewalks for the kids to walk on? Or have a neighborhood elementary school within 1/2 mile? How many kids need before- and after-care because both parents have jobs? And even if you can walk, how does it feel "safe" to do so when you're the only kid on your block who does? We've built a world where kids going anywhere without constant adult supervision just isn't viable any more; walking to school is just one little example of that.

Is it good or bad? Can be both. Point is to think about these things when planning communities, buying a home, etc. I know when we were house-hunting, I insisted on a neighborhood with sidewalks, and with schools, library, shops, etc. within a few blocks -- precisely because I do NOT want to be a chauffeur for the next 18 years. I hope that, as my kids get older, I can give them more freedom to go places by themselves.

Posted by: laura33 | September 15, 2009 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Well I personally do think it is tragic and a "big deal" that kids are no longer walking to school, but worse, are no longer walking home FROM school. I understand that in some cases, maybe even most, kids' schools may not be within walking or biking distance, but that's something to consider when you choose where to live. After school used to be a time when kids were able to go to each other's houses without some pre-arranged "playdate." With a parent waiting in the car, how can this happen? When do kids have the opportunity to develop any independence when they are supervised 24 hours a day? Where will they get any self-confidence in their own abilities to make decisions when an adult is perpetually a few feet away making all of those decisions for them?
Someone made mention of getting in a "boatload of trouble" walking home from school. Unless people died or were maimed as a result of this trouble, so what? You got in trouble and lived to tell the tale. Maybe you learned to make better decisions from your mistakes and their consequences. What happens to the people who don't get those opportunities to learn?
What if a parent somehow managed to be 100% successful in protecting their children from ever hearing "bad" language, watching "inappropriate" television/movies, encountering a person who does not have their best interests at heart, hearing a word of criticism or being yelled at, skinning a knee or breaking a bone? At some point that child will reach the age of adulthood and may dare to venture out of your carefully constructed matrix. What then? How will they deal with the "real" world if they have never seen it before?
Keeping your child safe is a worthy goal, but teach them to make decisions to keep themselves safe and let them put these decisions to the test or what will happen to them when you are gone?

Posted by: rh36 | September 15, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

"I used to have to walk to school. 5 miles. Uphill both ways. In the snow!"

The common quote above is a stretch for me to claim, but one year I did sprain my ankle and had to hop on 1 foot for miles to get back and forth to school...

In a thunderstorm...

After getting up at 4:30 am to deliver 2 newspaper routes, the Washington Post to be specific. My parents never helped me deliver papers as they claimed it was my job and my responsibility, but the fact is that they were just plain too lazy to do so.

Yes, today's kids are pampered to the max. It's a social expectation of parents of my generation to treat our kids with just about every perk and convenience known to students in the name of education, - something my parents didn't have to put up with. However, since I don't drive, and my sons are brutally tough, and we live within 8 blocks of the elementary and middle schools my kids go to, and my oldest daughter recently turned green and decided to use her $200 to purchase a bicycle instead of forking her hard-earned cash over for a George Mason parking sticker, I can decisively claim to be a member of a family of pedestrians.

BTW: Walking isn't much exercise. Sure it burns a few more calories per hour than sitting on your duff, but the difference between driving a mile and walking a mile is pretty insignificant in terms of keeping fit and trim.

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | September 15, 2009 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Cheekymonkey,
Unless a miracle happens, it is unrepairable. I am sticking around for several reasons (that provide benefit to me) but once those reasons have disappeared, I too will disappear. Call me a user in return but it is not in my best interest to end it at this moment.

I suspect some more driving will be in my future but I hope to limit it to true emergencies. And I keep telling myself when I get completely frustrated at the situation that it will be over soon enough.

Posted by: Billie_R | September 15, 2009 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Billie, I'd of told your husband and his ex to go pound sand on the driving the stepson to school thing. I don't think it had anything to do with worrying about your stepson, but sticking it to you. I thought you indicated this situation was getting worse and you were looking to get out? I hope this is still the case, you still have time to meet someone and be happy, or just be happy on your own.

Posted by: cheekymonkey | September 15, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse


Ditto

It seems like the guy conned/scammed you into marriage for reasons related to citizenship. Dunno what country you are in, but you may want to seek an attorney. You may be able to get your marriage annulled on the grounds of fraud. At the least find out how to get the S.O.B's status changed and DEPORT HIS A$S BACK WHERE HE CAME FROM.

Posted by: jezebel3 | September 15, 2009 12:59 PM | Report abuse

I think the reasons the issue has gotten a lot of attention are two-fold:

1) Nobody ever seems to tire of finding some reason to be critical of parents, especially other parents - whether it's for being helicopter parents who won't let their kids out of their bubble or negligent parents who aren't safety-zealous enough.

2) More substantively, it speaks to the decline of neighborhoods generally, or at least the idealized idea of neighborhoods that many of us cling to, and I think it just makes people sad and nostalgic. I'm actually surprised that such an urbanist as you, Brian, doesn't see the lack of people in the streets - including kids - as sad, in a Jane Jacobs sort of way.

Posted by: LizaBean | September 15, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

laura and rh (and others)>

I walked home from school, beginning in 3rd grade alone. Before that my ssister's job was to walk me to and from school. When i would walk home alone, sometimes i would go to someone else's house. I would have to call home when i got there (mom usually didn't know i was going). I would get in BIG trouble if I didn't call (and teh few times I didn't really - she knew where I was, but I still needed to be responsible).

We live in a walkable neighborhood - when I met DH he was in a far out (to me) suburb and i told him: i'm not living there (we're int he city). One thing I didn't EVER want was to have kids and have to have them rely on me for transport their whole lives. I wanted them to be able to bike around, or take a bus where they wanted/needed to go/ Much preferable for everyone.
We're already fighting about whether or not to get hte kids cars when they get their licenses. Of coruse, I coudln't afford it now, anywa.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | September 15, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

"Bingo!

"The Times peice takes care to note that ..."

"Peice" again!

Where you absent from school for the "i before e" lesson?

Posted by: jezebel3 "

Jez your unintended typo while snarking on someone else's unintended typo made my day. Ha!

On-topic: My stepdaughter walks to school when she's at her mom's house, as it is only a few blocks away. I believe her mother usually walks with her. We have to drive her when she's with us as walking is completely unfeasible. I confess to giving in to the fearmongering regarding abductions---I am terrified of it happening on "my watch" with my stepkids. I don't know if I'd feel differently or not if I were a bio mom myself. But they are not my kids and just like when I was a babysitter when I was younger, I have to be extra extra cautious that nothing happens to them on my watch.

To Billie: I have followed your postings with interest and always thought your stepkids were lucky to have you in their lives. I'm sorry things aren't working out, and I hope that you will take the steps you need to find happiness in your life.

Posted by: auntieW | September 15, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Jez your unintended typo while snarking on someone else's unintended typo made my day. Ha!

To Billie: I have followed your postings with interest and always thought your stepkids were lucky to have you in their lives. I'm sorry things aren't working out, and I hope that you will take the steps you need to find happiness in your life.

Posted by: auntieW | September 15, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

I stand corrected.

Billie, DEPORT HIS A$S BACK TO WHERE HE CAME FROM!

Posted by: jezebel3 | September 15, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

i also remember getting in a moderate amount of trouble walking home from school. but i agree that getting in trouble and having to figure things out is part of growing up.

and Whacky, it really does burn calories. even a 15 minute walk will burn 50 calories. if that's 5x week/4x month/9x year = 9,000 calories a year. that's 3 pounds. 3 pounds x 10 years is 30 pounds. (obviously i'm oversimplifying this, but you get my point)

Posted by: interestingidea1234 | September 15, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

How about Rockville banning smoking within 40 ft. of a playground????

Posted by: interestingidea1234 | September 15, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

My leaving will hopefully be on my terms and I intend on it being fair. My step-father things I am being too fair but I am the one that needs to live with my actions and not him.

Should my husband think that it would be fun to hassle me, I will be pulling out some leverage. If he just goes away and leaves me alone then I won't be using the leverage.

I have thought carefully of the circumstances of my marriage and regardless of how my husband has or hasn't treated me, I plan on taking the high road. Revenge doesn't really do a lot for me or my peaceful dreams at night and to be honest... his kids are just innocent bystanders in the this whole thing and I wouldn't hurt them for the world. Any revenge I enact for his perceived poor behaviour only ends up on their heads. That is a heavy price to pay and not one I am willing to inflict unless forced to.

Posted by: Billie_R | September 15, 2009 3:08 PM | Report abuse

DEPORT HIS A$S BACK TO WHERE HE CAME FROM!

Posted by: jezebel3 | September 15, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Re: getting in trouble
Oh yes, getting in 'trouble' with the authorities for violating ridiculous rules is a great teaching moment. I still don't get Brian's point about why we shouldn't care about the end of walking. Is he saying the benefits don't matter or that if some can't do it, then none of us should care?

I really feel bad for families where walking to school doesn't work because there are no sidewalks or custody problems. It really comes down to the particular child and situation. Maybe NurtureShock has some statistics for us????

Posted by: KS100H | September 15, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse

"Unless people died or were maimed as a result of this trouble, so what? You got in trouble and lived to tell the tale. Maybe you learned to make better decisions from your mistakes and their consequences. What happens to the people who don't get those opportunities to learn?"

Well that's a really good question.

But I also think it is an easy one to ask through the lens of nostalgia for a better time. If we're going to say that growing up in the 70s was better, let's really look at what that was ACTUALLY like and whether we really want to replicate that rather than "it worked for me so it was great!"

So - here's what a lot of my time growing up was like. The mothers were whacked out on cocktail hour until they went and got jobs, at which point the phrase "latchkey kids" got thrown around a lot. I support the moms working and all that but I also remember a friend who spent the time between 3 and 5:30 under her bed with a flashlight because she was scared... no one knew or cared, as far as we kids knew.

Walking home I guess the two worst kinds of trouble I recall were a) finding a dead baby in a ravine and b) being bullied incessantly by the Catholic high school girls, including getting a black eye.

I was confident some of the time but scared some of the time. I just am not into the idea that somehow the "bad" of those experiences is a "better bad" than whatever kids today are doing or not doing.

Posted by: Shandra1 | September 15, 2009 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Billie, When the seperation occurs - post a bar and we'll meet for a "drink to the future". That is - if you are local to the dc metro area? Can't remember.

Posted by: cheekymonkey | September 15, 2009 4:48 PM | Report abuse

Shandra1 wrote: 'I just am not into the idea that somehow the "bad" of those experiences is a "better bad" than whatever kids today are doing or not doing.'

Amen!! I walked home from school one year when we *weren't* in Catholic school (about 1/4 mile). It's easy to view those walks home through the golden lens of nostalgia. But for every really cool experience I remember (the jackrabbit in the orchard) I can think of three or four that cancel it out (flashers, mean kids that chased us, rotten fruit fights, etc.).

Posted by: PLozar | September 15, 2009 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Getting in trouble with the authorities for violating "ridiculous" rules IS a teaching moment. Do what the authorities say, regardless of whether you agree with it, or you will be punished. That's reality, why try to hide it from kids? Do you think when they get older they will get to choose their own rules to follow? They'll have plenty of company in jail from others who thought the same. Hopefully they will learn to distrust and despise authority, a valuable lesson too many have forgotten, allowing the hijacking of our so-called Constitution and the passage of the so-called Patriot Act.
And I've surely got no lens of nostalgia when it comes to the past. All I know is that those two hours after school going downtown with my friends to buy candy and go to the library with no adult supervision remain the sweetest of my life. So you found a dead baby or got in some rotten fruit fights? I hope you're okay now and were able to afford the years of therapy you must have needed to get past that.
Here's something else to consider: auto accidents are the leading cause of death in 1 - 14 year olds. You are putting them in cars, and therefore into the most dangerous situation they are likely to experience on any given day, in order to avoid the exaggerated risks of walking to school. Ironic.

Posted by: rh36 | September 15, 2009 7:54 PM | Report abuse

I walked 2 miles to high school each way and enjoyed it! There was a bus but I hated waiting for it & riding it.
However, today, we live in a different kind of neighborhood. Safe, but the local elementary--only a few blocks away-- is in an unsafe neighborhood where I will not walk. So, my boy goes to Catholic school, which is far enough that I have to drive-- too bad.

Posted by: liziko | September 15, 2009 11:34 PM | Report abuse

If you have the option - your kids should be on the school bus. There are 800 child fatalities during the going to school/coming home hours each year for kids who are in cars each year. (either with parents or other kids) There are only 8 fatalities each year for kids who take the school bus -- most of which happen outside of the school bus. (i.e. drivers ignoring the school bus's stop arm and hitting kids.)

If you don't have the option to take the school bus and no safe way to walk to school -- then your only safe option is to drive. And you shouldn't feel guilty about it.

Posted by: danielle514 | September 19, 2009 1:11 PM | Report abuse

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