Tuesday, April 22

Kids traveling alone: appropriately adventurous or just plain crazy?

Ever since New York Sun columnist Lenore Skenazy wrote a column earlier this month about why she let her 9-year-old son travel alone on the subway, parents around the city have had little else to talk about — or at least they've made room in their G&T and kindergarten admissions discussions to ponder whether Skenazy is a hero or a lunatic.

The reason for the journey? Skenazy's son wanted to be more independent, and she wanted to illustrate that the city is safe for children, no matter what their overprotective parents may think. The outcome? Armed with a Metrocard, a subway map, $20, and change for a phone call, her son made it home just fine from Bloomingdale's, "ecstatic with independence."

Skenazy is planning to let her son find his way back from Queens sometime soon, per his request. What about you — would you be comfortable executing this experiment? Your kid would probably thank you. Last year, a Clinton 6th grader argued on Insideschools, "Parents – we know what we’re doing. We’re city kids after all. So think about it -- and let your kids roam a little more freely for a while." Of course, his mother didn't agree.

Update: Skenazy has launched Free Range Kids, a site "for anyone who thinks that kids need a little more freedom and would like to connect to people who feel the same way."


Anonymous said...

I think each parent knows their child and that individual child's maturity level. The fact that Ms. Skenazy's son was eager to do this and handled it well seems to imply that he is capable of it. However, I resent Ms. Skenazy's snide attitude that a parent who does NOT let their young child wander around the city and ride the subway alone is "keeping them locked up" and "being overprotective." I don't think most kids are mature enough at that age, and I also thing a child that young, unattended, is a potential target for pedophiles. To pretend that there is NO danger involved whatsoever is foolish. I don't think Ms. Skenazy is a "child abuser," because it seems her son is savvy and streetwise and confident, and in his case she felt he was ready for it. That's a call that only the individual parent can make - it's not a one-size-fits-all thing.

Many sixth-graders have to take a subway or public bus to get to middle school, so at that age it's a bit more accepted.

Anonymous said...

I grew up in the city in the mid 80s. I had to travel alone on a city bus and walk five blocks to get to my school starting when I was also 9. At that time a few other kids in my area were going alone as well so it just seemed okay. I however hated it, I always worried and felt I had to be on alert for something. It was to much for a little kid to handle. Being a mother now I would never let my kids do it.

brittany said...

i live in brooklyn yes,brooklyn not up in mill basin or in those other upperclass areas. i used to take the bus home when i was in fourth grade. i felt good about myself knowing that i could do it on my own. i am now 13 i think that your child will let you know when he or she is ready to do that. i currently take two buses back and forth to school every single day through the rain sleet and snow. not everyone has the perks of jumping in the SUV when in the morning. i think it has a little to do with how you raise your child, and how fast they mature. that woman is not a "child abuser" ive seen 8 year old taking their 6-7 year old siblings to school in the mornings. also traveling alone at an early age gives you an advantage you learn how to be street smart and you know how to get home on your own in case something happens and you need to get home by yourself.