Kids are putting on their backpacks, sharpening their pencils, and returning to class, but how many of them will actually walk to school? Not many compared to eras past. In 1969, some 50 percent of children walked or biked to school, and 87 percent of children living within one mile of school got a little morning exercise. Today, fewer than 15 percent of kids walk or bike to school.
This is what happened to Lenore Skenazy, a Manhattan mom and author of the parenting book Free Range Kids, who made newspaper headlines when she sent her son on the New York subway at age 9 in April 2008. In a column for the New York Sun, she wrote, “Was I worried? Yes, a tinge. But it didn’t strike me as that daring, either. Isn’t New York as safe now as it was in 1963? It’s not like we’re living in downtown Baghdad.”
While some parents these days believe their kids are growing up in a scary world, Skenazy argues that raising children in the United States now isn’t more dangerous than it was when today’s generation of parents were young. “Crime today is basically where it was at in the 1970s,” she says. “And we’re assuming kids can’t do the same things we did ourselves as kids. This doesn’t make sense.”
Did you walk to school as a child? Do you allow your children to walk to school? Why or why not?