My wife asked me a question today that I wasn’t sure about. She asked what age children are allowed to stay at home alone, go out to play alone, or walk to school alone in Canada. A quick search revealed that there is no law about this.
When I was a kid, I was able to walk to school alone when I was about 7 years old. I also went out to play with my friend around that age by myself. I’d walk or ride my bike to his house or to a park, and there was no problem.
Here in Japan, children are often seen walking alone or riding the train alone to go to school when they’re as young as 6. And you know what? No one cares. In fact, the kids seem quite intent on going to their destination. It is very common for children to be by themselves or with friends without any kind of adult supervision at early elementary school ages.
I’ve seen on the internet that some parents won’t let their children walk to school alone or go to their friends’ house alone until they’re older than 12. Seems pretty old to me. Even one said that they weren’t allowed to walk to school alone when she was a kid until she was 14. Her parents walked her to school at 13 years old, and she was very embarrassed about it.
I’ve also seen a story where a couple kids were playing outside in their front yard, aged 9 and 6, and their mother was watching from the front porch. A neighbour called the police and they arrested the mother for leaving the kids unsupervised. But they weren’t unsupervised. She was there watching them. This is really going too far, in my opinion. At that age, I was outside by myself riding my bike without any supervision at all. It’s unhealthy for kids to be constantly supervised, if you ask me. They don’t learn independence. Their parents are always interfering with their play. Some of these are the same parents that accompany their children to job fairs at university and do all the talking to companies. Those companies always tell the parents they will not hire them because the parents are there. Too much parenting is bad parenting.
Why do parents do this? Is it because they’re afraid their kids will get hurt? Teach them safety rules and what to do in dangerous situations, and they should be fine. Are they afraid someone will kidnap their kids? Children are more likely to be kidnapped and abused by family friends or even relatives, not strangers. Are they afraid of their kids failing? Failure is one of the best ways to learn. If kids don’t fail, they won’t learn the wrong ways to do things. They won’t learn that failure isn’t the end of the world, but a way to learn a lesson and do better next time.
So, I want to ask you this: What age should children be allowed to walk to school, play in the park, and stay at home alone?