Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Are Your Charges Allowed to Walk Home Alone from School?

Very Few Children Under the Age of 10 Can Safely Cross the Street
By Andrea Flagg, Nanny

School is open and there are three schools all within three blocks of my home. Over the years there have been child pedestrian accidents in my town.

There were two horrible accidents in which children were hit by cars in my town. In one accident, a six-year old boy was walking along the busy main street with his mother when he spotted his friends on the other side of the street. He unexpectedly darted into traffic trying to reach his friends across the street. Sadly, he did not make it to the other side.

The other incident involved a nine-year old child that was walking along the street near the curb. A car struck him. Luckily, he suffered only minor injuries.

The following safety tips can be found at AAA of North Jersey and

  • Very few children under the age of 10 can manage safely crossing the street.
  • Children cannot judge speed, distance, or direction well and are easily distracted.
  • Young children think if they can see a car, that a car can see them. Children are shorter and smaller than adults and given the fact that there are so many SUV’S on the road today, many cars have a huge area in their blind spots.
  • Most children are struck by cars while in streets or driveways near their homes, when they run out between parked cars, walk along the edge of the road, cross the street in the middle of the block (not using a cross walk), or in front of a turning vehicle.
As nannies there are several actions we can take to protect children:
  • Behave properly when crossing the street in order to be a good role model.
  • Always use cross walks.
  • Always follow traffic rules (never cross against a red light).
  • Always hold the child’s hand while in parking lots, on sidewalks of busy streets, and especially when crossing any street.
As a driver we can help to avoid pedestrian accidents by:
  • Walking around your vehicle before getting in, to be certain no children are near before driving away. (SUV’s tend the have huge blind spots when backing up. To help improve your view, install stick-on convex mirrors, which will help maximize your side views).
  • Leaving extra time when traveling so that you are not tempted to speed or drive unsafely.
  • Eliminating distractions in your car, (as nanny I personally know how wild it can be at times with children on board, so children need to be taught proper behavior as passengers so you can focus on driving).
  • Never using a hand held cell phone while driving –- it is the law.
  • Using only one earpiece with a portable music player, when walking or biking so that you can hear oncoming traffic.
What we can teach children:
  • Not to cross the street alone if they are younger than 10-years old.
  • Stop at the curb before crossing, and when it is safe walk across the street; do not run. 
  • Cross only at corners, using traffic signals and cross walks or go to a corner where a crossing guard is on duty.
  • Look left, right, and left again before crossing. Keep looking for moving vehicles even while crossing the street since traffic can appear out of nowhere.
  • Walk facing traffic.
  • Make eye contact with drivers before crossing in front of them to help insure that they are aware of your presence.
  • Do not allow children play in driveways, streets, parking lots, or between cars.
  • Have identification with you and always wear reflective clothing at night.
Click here for questions to ask yourself, your charges, and the parents of the children you care for to help determine if they are ready to walk home alone.

With so many vehicles on the roads we need to prepare ourselves and the children, by teaching them to follow these guidelines, surely we will aid in avoiding pedestrian accidents.


Janice said...

This is a wonderful resource. I also love the Test of Twelve.

Can anyone answer this question for me: if the parents let a child walk alone and you as the nanny don't feel comfortable letting them do it do we as nannies defy the parents decision?

Eva said...

Kids walking home from school, no matter the age, must carry a cell phone and always walk with a buddy. It amazes me how many kids are allowed to walk home alone at 8 yrs old in my town without a buddy or cell phone when a sex offender was arrested for hanging out at the community pool (2 blocks away from the school) this summer.

Janice, talk to the parents. Don't 'DEFY" them tell them your concerns.

Imani said...

I think as a caregiver you need to discuss your issues about the child walking home alone with the parents. You follow their directions but if you seriously feel the child isn't ready to walk alone explain why. :)

Anonymous said...

When I interviewed for a job I met a family where the parents let the 8 years old and 5 year walk to school alone- more than 7 blocks and across a very busy main street. I said- I'd be happy to walk with them. And the parents said- you don't have to- they will be Ok- both of us grew up in the town and we always walked to school ourselves.
DUH- that was 25 years ago!

For that reason I knew it was not going to be a good fit.