View Full Version : At what age should kids* be allowed to go out and about** on their own?

04 May 2016, 03:56
Also (in addition to the title question and poll), what caveats would you give it?

*This assumes an "average" child of "normal" development and reasonably maturity/responsibility for their age.

**This assumes a reasonably safe neighborhood, not some extreme of crime/no crime, etc.

04 May 2016, 05:25
For myself growing up in the 50's it seemed a lot safer. Living in a housing project,we had parents who took responsibility for all the kids. Our grammar school was on the same grounds as the housing project. We had two LARGE fields on the sides of the projects. Big enough to dig a fort and cover it with dirt in the summer. It would get rained out in the winter. As for the safety,even the cops hesitated to come into the projects. mainly they showed for domestic disputes. A percentage of we kids hit Juvi at about 10-14..little later. I myself was good at keeping out of that. I was stopped for curfew once,and the Cop was surprised I did not have a record living in the project. It was less me being VERY good,more not being caught doing things. I had my own personal set of moral rules,not ones taught to me by parents.

I could walk home for lunch..5 minutes,and stayed out pretty late even at 8-9. This is important,any one who came into the project that was not known,was surrounded by the residents. Once a girl's BF drove in,and was surrounded and questioned until she came out and told everybody he was cool.

04 May 2016, 05:44
I was allowed out in the neighborhood when I was 11, when we moved to NJ. (In Brooklyn I had to pretty much stay under lock & key.) By 12 I was allowed to cross the main road and go pretty much wherever I wanted, as long as I told my parents where I was headed.

04 May 2016, 05:55
So...I grew up in a decently sized commuter town to a metropolitan area during the height of the :devilish:-panic. I was allowed to play outside unsupervised in our own, not fenced-in yard by 5-6. By 7 I could roam pretty much anywhere on our block on foot to play at any of the 4 other yards of houses with kids my age. By 8, I had boundaries of the highway on one side (2 blocks to the east), another busy road (1 block to the north), the railroad tracks (about 4 blocks to the west), and another road that was about 6 blocks to the south by bike, or about a 4 block area that included two schools' playgrounds and some woods behind an empty lot and abandoned old train station...if I was in a group, I could also go to the 7-11, the popcorn store, the city pool, and a local park that expanded a bit--like riding my bike to my piano lesson and to the library downtown. By 11, if I could ride there, I could go there, as long as I didn't cross the highway, carried a quarter, and told my parents roughly where I was going to be and when I'd be home.

04 May 2016, 07:46
I'm so glad you started this thread! My kids are getting to the age where I'm having to really deal with this. (6 and 8)

For the poll I voted 9, because at that age and with your asterisks I would assume they would be able to have the mental *and* physical ability to maneuever their environment even in a worst case scenario (if there was stranger danger, stray animal, end up getting hurt, etc) and figure out how to safely get back home or get the problem taken care of.

We just moved from an apartment in an increasingly trashy part of town (3 years no problems, then bam! one year with over 7 instances of cops needing to be involved, and even more instances around the apartment) to a house in a quiet (so far as I know) neighborhood in the country. I didn't even like letting my kids be outside with supervision at the apartment. I would test their abilities by giving them simple tasks (go get something from the car, take the trash to the dumpster which we were right by, etc) and see how long it took them, if they got distracted etc.

I don't remember when I started wandering by myself, but I want to say it was 3rd or 4th grade before I could be on my own with limitations as to how far. I think the boundaries were a)places my parents could step outside and see me from and b)where we could hear each other if we shouted. This summer, I will probably let them be outside by themselves in the unfenced yard. Of course, I also have anxiety so this is an even harder issue lol.

04 May 2016, 07:52
You have to understand inner city rules to get this. At about 10-12 we did shortcuts,like under the freeway(not generally a real path) and crossing the rail yard(crossing over about 6-8 sets of tracks.) also from time to time jumping a train to go a farther distance(fright trains) Down and around a creek that went under a foundry,and through back alleys. It was like hiking,only through city back alleys. Usually it was 5-10 kids doing this,but each also did it alone from time to time. Now you might think..that was dangerous,but even at 10-11 we all carried knives,and not pen knives,more like buck hunting knives. also gravity blades and switch blades.(Play welcome to the jungle)

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Think "Our gang" TV and movies.

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04 May 2016, 12:03
How far? Like are we talking to the empty lot down the road, to the store a few blocks away, or on the bus downtown?

I was allowed to do the former at 5, the next around 9 and the last one at 12. I don't want to live in a world where kids can't have space to do their own thing. I probably wouldn't let them roam at 5 in the city, but around the neighbourhood is fine if we end up in the suburbs.

04 May 2016, 14:12
Let's go to the dark side shall we?

I had a single mom from 11 on up. I was pretty much unsupervised in the house. I was left alone in the house late at night most weekends. And I was out and about on my own from 12 on up.

I could tell you all the times I was molested. But I don't want to make you panic.

But you should. Because there are things that happen that kids aren't prepared to handle on the spot in the heat of fear. We 'go along' with things when if we had a minute to think about, we wouldn't. We all think our kids are well prepared. But they really aren't. Let's face it adult creeps are way smarter then a child.

On that note, I'd say 13 is good to go out in the day time with a friend. :p

04 May 2016, 14:37
We (our family) moved to the greater Seattle area in 1954. I was three and turned four that fall. I remember walking all over the place alone and I remember my Dad coming after me once because I was playing at a beach on Puget Sound which was a couple of miles from home. At near the end of winter we moved into a house my folks bought and that is where I grew up. We had no restrictions on where we could go and each of us had different interests. I spent a lot of time fishing - the lake was less than a mile away and at 11 I was going into Renton to fish on the Cedar River (about 7 miles one way). I road my bike to get there and back and the only limit was to be home for dinner or before dark. I rode the bus downtown into the city center and to the movies. We had family outings too and hiking trips with Dad into the Cascades and the Olympics. we started hiking when I was about 6 - I was in the first grade. we hiked short trips of about 3 miles and a few that were all day treks that covered more than 14 miles.

04 May 2016, 16:11
I was staying home by myself at 9. But I guess it depends

05 May 2016, 13:50
I don't think I could set an age. There are too many variables and kids are just too different in their abilities at any given age. I know here, legally, whether you can leave them alone or not is dependent on the skills they have. And I like that idea. To stay home alone, they should be able to use a phone, make themselves a snack, know what to do in an emergency and how to use the phone. If you're going to let them out of sight of the house, they should know what to do if they get lost, how to find their way home, maybe have their own cell so they can call and know how to use it. It just depends on what YOUR kid is capable of and what you've taught them.

05 May 2016, 13:57
Yeah there can't really be a set age. I mean I know of kids who are quite capable of being mature enough to deal with certain things on their own.

Then I see kids light their junk on fire on youtube and I just shake my head.

Some kids are dumb.

Some kids will fall to peer pressure.

Those dumb kids who fall to peer pressure are gonna have a bad time.

05 May 2016, 15:17
Darwin....nuf said...Darwin...

05 May 2016, 15:32
Well - the way I behaved when left alone at home for an hour when I was 12 was infinitely more mature than the way I did in my college dorm when I was 21. No peer pressure involved - I drank beer and tequila of my own free will, freely, and usually for free! :) I didn't do anything seriously crazy until I was an "adult".

05 May 2016, 15:33
And what became of the "Worm"?

05 May 2016, 15:45
And what became of the "Worm"?

The early bird got it, of course!

05 May 2016, 15:47
My fave was Tequila Sunrise..looked as good as it went down...

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05 May 2016, 17:34
That was my signature drink in the 70's! That, and White Russians. Funny, these days I drink neither o.j. nor milk.

Anyway, trying to segue back to topic.....I guess part of when kids can be left home/let out alone is trusting them not to get into the liquor cabinet, or have an older kid buy them some.

05 May 2016, 17:54
Youse peeked at my childhood Memoirs...

06 May 2016, 01:58
That was my signature drink in the 70's! That, and White Russians. Funny, these days I drink neither o.j. nor milk.

Anyway, trying to segue back to topic.....I guess part of when kids can be left home/let out alone is trusting them not to get into the liquor cabinet, or have an older kid buy them some.

So, kids are okay to go out alone from 6-12/13, and then we should lock them in a box...

06 May 2016, 02:47
Really does depend on each kid..but a thing,at 7 I was cooking my own breakfast,and lighting the stove(Before pilot lights) and relighting the floor heater. My older sister taught us how to do stuff,and everyone helped keep up with stuff. These days what with helicopter parents,I am surprised kids know how to tie their own shoes. I guess I was a free range kid growing up.

B. de Corbin
06 May 2016, 02:53
So, kids are okay to go out alone from 6-12/13, and then we should lock them in a box...

Sounds about right...

06 May 2016, 05:52
So, kids are okay to go out alone from 6-12/13, and then we should lock them in a box...

Not all of 'em. Like I said, I didn't do anything really crazy until I was an adult.

10 May 2016, 20:43
I was allowed to walk to school, but then again it was about a mile away from school. Not too far for us to walk. This was junior high of course. We were about 13 and 14 (me being the older sister and I stayed back a grade). When we were younger, we were allowed to play outside as long as we were in the yard. Of course it was a close knit neighborhood. A lot of my friends were around and the neighbors watched over us. We lived on a dead end street during our teens and our parents had to parallel park their cars so the others could get by. We knew our neighbors and had friends. My sister had a job and started to drive. This was of course before the internet craze and social media craze.

I would think that parents should wait till the children understand the dangers of going out on their own. They should teach their children early on about strangers not just in person, but on the internet. They should let them know that being on their own doesn't mean they can be out of their parents reach. They still have a responsibility to stay in touch with their parents. I can't say what age, but probably at least 12. This is my opinion though. I only have fur babies and a nephew.