Do you let your children make their own way to and from school, or do you think the streets aren't safe enough?
Mark McCullough, a 45-year-old dad from Glentham, Lincolnshire, lets his 7-year-old daughter, Isabelle, walk the 45 yards from the school bus stop to her home unsupervised, but received a letter from the local council warning him that his case would be referred to social workers if he didn't escort Isabelle to and from the bus stop. In another recent case, parents Oliver and Gillian Schonrock were told they too could be reported to Social Services for allowing their 5-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter to cycle a mile to their school.
Allowing your kids to be alone outside is an important part of their development, but also a big cause of worry for parents. One thing that should help ease the worry a bit is the launch of Lost Kidz, a great new mobile phone app that helps parents find their child if he or she goes missing. It works by sending an alert - everyone within 10 miles who has downloaded the app receives a picture of the missing child and a search party is formed.
Follow our tips and read more about street safety for your children...
- Make sure your child knows his full name, address and telephone number.
- If you or your children see another child in distress, ask what's wrong. Get help from other adults if necessary.
- Build your child's self-esteem with lots of love and praise. Bullies and dangerous adults often pick out less confident kids.
- Make sure they know that they never have to do anything they don't like with an adult or older child.
- Buy your child a personal alarm for extra safety.
- Tell them to stick to routes they know, not short cuts.
- Encourage them to avoid walking home alone if they can.
- If they pass someone who looks threatening, tell them to look straight ahead and walk confidently.
Kidscape, the charity which encourages the protection of children, advises parents to discuss safety without scaring children. 'Make a game of it when you're shopping,' says a spokesperson. 'Say, "Now what would you do if someone grabbed your mobile?" But say it lightly.'
Do you think Mark McCullough and the Schonrocks are right to let their children travel alone? Do you let your kids go to school on their own? Let us know what you think on Facebook.
- Next: The facts about safety on the street