At what age would you let your child walk to school alone? When they start secondary school, or is primary age old enough?
Reports show that the number of primary school aged children that walk to school unaccompanied has dropped dramatically in recent years, with just 25% doing so now compared to nearer 90% in the 80's.
But why is that? Have things become much more dangerous for children, or does this rather reflect a change in parenting attitudes instead?
There are fears for 'stranger danger' though no one has shown that there is any more risk for children these days than in the past, but a big fear for many parents is the walk to school itself and the danger from traffic. The number of cars on the road has increased significantly in a generation, and many parents would cite this as a main concern with their child crossing busy roads on the way to school.
Personally there's no way I'd let my primary school child walk to school alone and I realise that some people may refer to me as a "helicopter parent." Well guess what? I don't care. I'd much rather know my child was safe and had arrived at school safely than be bothered by labels.
Some parenting experts argue that we are doing our children a disservice by not allowing them the freedom and independence to walk to school alone, that the risk is minimal, and that we need to teach our children to look after themselves. But as parents surely we know our own children better than anyone else and are the best ones to decide when they are ready to take what to them must be a huge step? And is throwing them out into the world the best way to do that? I don't think my child's safety is an issue where I want to be keeping my fingers crossed and hoping for the best.
Years ago people left their doors unlocked, babies outside shops in prams and there was more of a community spirit. No-one does any of these thing now and with good reason as far as I'm concerned.
To further complicate matters some schools impose restrictions on Primary age children walking home from school and will not let them leave until a parent or guardian is there to escort them, so the decision is taken out of parents hands altogether.
We have had quite a discussion here at Playpennies and there are some very different views being shared, so we would love to hear what you think. Let us know on the poll below, in the comments or over on our Facebook page.
Personally I feel while there's a difference between protection and paranoia, my child is too precious to me to take any chances.