5 Good Reasons Why Children Should Walk To School

Susan Elkin points to alarmingly low statistics on the number of children who walk to school, especially when compared with historic rates. She lays out some “blindingly obvious” and “child-centered” reasons why this trend needs to be reversed.

January 19, 2013, 9:00 AM PST

By Erica Gutiérrez


Elkin writes, “[a] study from the University of Westminster has this week shown that only 25 per cent of primary school pupils now travel home alone as opposed to 86 per cent in 1971 and 76 per cent today in Germany.” She outlines five reasons why it should be normal rather than exceptional for children to walk to school without parental supervision. These five reasons address issues such as: increasing child obesity, child development and socialization, stress- and risk-management, and even the observation of nature. Aside from these, Elkin points to a few others, including benefits to parents, car maintenance, and road congestion.

She also addresses, and debunks, the safety fears that prevent parents from allowing their children to walk to school. For example, she sites NSPCC statistics, which show that children are more likely to be killed by their own parents than by a stranger. On teaching kids about the rules of the road, she adds, “Surely if a parent walks his or her child to school until he or she is, say, eight there will have been ample time to do this?”

Elkin concludes by challenging parents to “break the mould” and to move away from “the hop-in-the-car attitude” that has become “culturally embedded” causing children to “[get] fatter, less curious and less self reliant."

Tuesday, January 15, 2013 in The Independent

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