You may have read my column a couple of weeks ago about how schools are banning playground games because students lacked the resilience or social skills to handle losing.
This week I came across research from Deakin University and VicHealth that supported the idea that younger Australian kids are “bubble wrapped” more than their UK counterparts.
They found that more than half of Aussie primary school kids (51%) are ferried to school by car, compared with less than a third (32%) of primary school children in England, despite generally walkable distances to and from school. This is even more surprising when you consider the weather conditions in the UK!
Four in five (78%) 11-year-old British kids were allowed to walk home from school alone, compared with less than half of Australian children of the same age (43%). And most UK children of that age were allowed to cross the road alone, compared to only two-thirds of Australian kids (85% vs 64%). VicHealth CEO Jerril Rechter said, “VicHealth is interested in the reasons why so many kids are still getting dropped off at school when the walk is usually manageable and obviously beneficial for their health and development.”
It seems that parents are more willing to allow their child more independence once they reach high school. Rechter says, “There seems to be a symbolic granting of freedom when a child transitions to high school, regardless of the child’s age. So while many kids are capable of independence when they are 10 to 12-years-old, they’re generally not given permission to travel alone until they’re in secondary school.”
It should be noted that this research was released to coincide with VicHealth’s Walk to School initiative and I’m also aware that many would argue that the UK parents are being reckless in allowing kids out on their own at such a young age.
That’s why parenting will always be a hotbed of discussion and argument.
My advice? You know your child best. Don’t blindly accept the advice of experts. Think about it carefully and then do what you think is right.
Author: Dan Haesler, he is a teacher, consultant, and speaker at the Mental Health & Wellbeing of Young People seminars. He is the co-developer of Happy Schools and blogs at http://danhaesler.com/ and tweets at @danhaesler