Mark McCullough, 32, walking Isabelle from the school bus across the road in Glentham, Lincolnshire.
This week a man was charged with the rape of an eleven year-old girl on her way home from school as she took a busy shortcut in North London. The girl was dressed in her school uniform and had tried to shake off her attacker by crossing the road several times on the journey; despite this she was still brutally attacked.
Such horrific stories bring up the question of whether girls should be left to walk to and from school by themselves, or even left to walk to and from the school bus alone. In another case recently parents in Lincolnshire were warned by the council that action would be taken if they did not escort their seven year-old girl to and from the school bus–even though the bus stop is mere yards from their family home. I can immediately see the differences in these cases–the age of the children (even though only a few years) is a large gap in streetwise knowledge, and the distance the girls are walking from school to home is something that ought to be considered as well. These are just some of the points being discussed on netmums.com.
For some parts of the UK recommended distances and ages from which children should be able to walk alone to school are given: ½ a mile for primary school pupils (5-10), 1 mile for middle school pupils (10 -13), and 1¼ miles (14-16) for secondary school pupils. I remember everyone from the age of 11 walking to and from school by themselves, or they caught a bus, or parents would drive them. The grey area seems to be if the child catches a bus, after leaving the bus whose responsibility is it to make sure the route they take is safe enough for them to do alone? Ultimately it is down to parental judgement but if you can see the bus stop or they then walk with friends and the distance isn’t great, let’s hope that in this day and age this at least is still considered "safe."
Girl Museum Inc.