We asked parents if they'd let their nine-year-old walk to school.
And they answered. Decisively.
Out of 665 responses, 172 voted “Of course” and 493 - or a whopping 74% - voted “No way.”
Thirty-four respondents commented on the Family Zone online poll, mostly to say “That depends.” Some of the variables mentioned most frequently included:
Maturity of child
Where you live
Distance to school
Safe school crossings
Prior experience walking to school with parent
Walking with others
Prior practice with road crossing
Against the law?
Several commenters asked whether it was against the law for a nine-year-old to walk to school. It isn’t.
Queensland is the only state in Australia that prohibits allowing a child under age 12 to be “unattended” - and parents who violate this law can sentenced to three years’ imprisonment! But even in Queensland, if consideration for the child’s safety is deemed to be “reasonable,” you will not be considered to have broken the law.
In the other states, there is no such legislation. However, all states require parents and guardians to provide adequate safety and supervision for unattended children under age 12 (although this mostly relates to children left home alone).
Most popular comments
The most popular comment in our poll, by Celeste Ellice, received 40 up-votes on Facebook. Celeste wrote:
Depends on where you live, distance to school, safe road crossings, child's behaviour and awareness. If you live 200m from the school, with a school crossing, in a quiet suburban area, and the child has been walking to school with a parent for the last 3 years and seems quite confident - why not?
Other notable comments were made Allison Adams (five up-votes):
And yet many parents have no misgivings about letting their children go online. That’s probably the point.
and Emma Dorotich (six up-votes):
It depends, but kids who are never given the chance to take risks don’t develop good risk assessment skills. Those kids are then more likely to get themselves into trouble in their teens and early adulthood, because they haven’t learned how to weigh risk. So overprotecting is just as dangerous as under protecting.
Thanks to all who participated in our poll - and especially to you, Emma Dorotich. We couldn't agree more. Learning to weigh risk and develop awareness is the best protection we can offer our children, online or off. To learn more about Family Zone's holistic approach to digital wellbeing, head to familyzone.com - and consider starting your free trial today!