Tragedy Miraculously Averted!

Hi Readers! I’m sorry for what happened to this kid, but is it NEWS? And did we NEED that last line? And as the guy who sent this to Free-Range Kids said: “I thought this a headline from The  Onion.” But no. It’s from Gainseville, Fla:

7-year-old ends up walking home alone from school

By Harriet Daniels
Stafff writer

Published: Wednesday, November 18, 2009 at 7:58 p.m.
Last Modified:
Wednesday, November 18, 2009 at 7:58 p.m.

The family of a Williams Elementary first-grader is trying to figure out how the child, who had always ridden the bus or had been driven home, ended up walking from school alone on Monday.

There is confusion about whether the 7-year-old girl was to have been picked up by a family member or to have ridden a bus to the YMCA after school.

It also is unclear how the child ended up leaving the school campus. She reportedly became lost and confused and was found crying about a mile from the school by a stranger, who then took the girl to her godmother’s home, a family member said.

Since the incident, a district spokeswoman said the school has put a stricter policy in place to ensure all adults involved in dismissal each day know the status of each child, whether they are to walk home, be picked up or ride a bus home or to an after-school program.

“Thank God a good Samaritan picked her up or this could have been a tragedy,” said the girl’s grandmother, Mary Banks.

56 Responses

  1. I have a 7 year old son. We live in a New York City suburb, about 2 or 3 blocks from the elementary school. About halfway between our home and the school, there is an intersection with no traffic control (just a crosswalk). The street – the main one that runs past the school – is one lane in each direction, with a 30 mph speed limit.

    I currently walk my son halfway to school. I cross him through the intersection, then he walks the rest of the way himself. I do this because so many cars simply don’t stop when there is a pedestrian in the intersection (to say nothing of a pedestrian about to step into the intersection).

    Just this morning, as I crossed my son, A regular sized school bus did not slow down or stop as I was about to enter the intersection with my son. I put my hand up to indicate that the driver should stop, and she waved to me! A high school student (that’s about how old he looked) driving in the other direction did finally stop – but not until a few inches of the hood of his car were actually in the crosswalk. And crossing back, as I stepped into the far side of the street, another school bus did stop, but then, after I crossed, the driver honked and made a face at me.

    If the drivers act like this when an adult, in a bright red jacket on a bright, sunny day (so I know they saw me) is crossing the street, how will my son ever be able to cross the street safely without a traffic control device there?

    What’s the best way to go about trying to get a stoplight (manually triggered only when a pedestrian wants to cross) at an intersection like this?

  2. This should be submitted to The Onion. They could run it as is.

    The best way I can think of to counter this is to play the what-if game with your children. We do this all the time at dinner.

    What if you miss the bus in the morning; what do you do? Walk back to the house, use key and call Mom or Dad.

    What if you miss the bus in the afternoon? (Return to school; call Mom or Dad. If school is closed, walk to library or Walgreens; call Mom or Dad. Walk to friends’ house close to school; call Mom or Dad)

    What if you are hungry on Sat morning before Mom and Dad get up? (make toast w/ jelly or eat fruit)

    What if you get lost; what do you do? (Ask a store cashier to call mom’s cell # which is on a piece of paper in backpack)

    What if you forget your key; what do you do? (Open front door and sit on steps; wait for parents to get home- usually 20 mins) If it gets dark, go to a neighbor’s house and explain; call Mom or Dad)

    What if (god-forbid) someone tries to put you in their car and abduct you? (Scream “You’re not my parent” and “Don’t abduct me”. Run to nearest house in the opposite direction that the car is facing- so they would have to turn it around- and knock on the door. Explain to neighbor what is happening. Ask to call Mom or Dad)

  3. What a horribly written headline. The child didn’t walk home alone. She got lost and a kind stranger picked her up and took her to a family member’s house. If someone had just taught the child how to walk to and from school in the first place, this would never have been an issue! I don’t live too far away…this makes me want to drive to Gainesville and school a person or two.

    The one bright lining is that the school recognizes that some children do walk home and are including them in their planning without apparently making any “Oh, the horror!” sounds.

  4. In many jurisdictions these days, the only way to get a stoplight installed is to have a list of dead people to take to the local politician.

    We’re currently dealing with crazy traffic around our school, and while nobody in government says it outright, it’s clear that budgets are tight, and they are only interested in traffic control when there are multiple major accidents. The only areas in the county getting traffic upgrades are those where there have been at least three fatal accidents in the last two years.

    That said, in most states failing to stop for a pedestrian in a crosswalk is a violation of state law. You should become that annoying lady who steps out in front of (slow-moving) cars, who calls the school and the bus company with the bus number, time, and location every time a bus fails to stop for pedestrians, and who shows up to testify with pictures at school board and city/council meetings. (Most boards will let you speak on any subject for two or three minutes. When you do that five or six meetings in a row, the board will get the staff to take some action just to avoid listening to you.)

    Stop signs and stoplights don’t improve safety. Perversely, the more people who bike or walk, the safer biking or walking is. The key is to make biking and walking the norm, so that drivers expect to see something other than cars. When they see you and expect you to be part of the traffic pattern, they deal with you correctly.

    That’s not the answer you wanted, but I think it’s the answer you need.

    tc>

  5. At the end of my first day of school EVER, my mother let me walk home by myself. This was from KINDERGARTEN. I got lost and a lady helped me find my way home.

    The next day, mom walked me to school again, told me to make sure I walked home with one of the other kids so that I wouldn’t get lost again, and that was the end of it.

    Nothing happened, my mom got over it, and I obviously got over it. I was five.

  6. My then 5 year old was put on the bus from kindergarten when he was supposed to stay at school with the after care program. He arrived at our house and tried for an hour to get in. When this didn’t work, he walked around the corner to my mother’s house and stayed with her. He was hysterical but calmed down after popcorn and juice. I was pissed off when I heard, raised holy hell and became very proud of my 5 year old son who had thought himself out of a pretty severe (for a 5 year old) problem. His teacher was suitable mortified (she was gone so she could run the Chicago Marathon).

    That being said, I also walked home from kindergarten by myself. We all did.

  7. My son started kindergarten this year, at the local public school. Since he’s been fascinated by school buses for YEARS, I put him on the bus on the first day. When I went to his school for a meet and greet, other parents were shocked that I’d let him ride the bus to and from on the first week of school! Blew my mind.
    Of course this school also published a policy that parents may not walk their kids into the building after the first week. 🙂 Schools, fostering independance!

  8. @Lisa S: Talk to your principal and/or PTA/O about getting crossing guards and then be sure to volunteer for the duty. Big orange SCHOOL flags help get the attention of drivers. And will encourage walkers/bikers.

    30mph in front of a school? Is there no school zone speed limit set?

  9. My friend has a 7 year old with Down’s Syndrome who walks to and from school every day. How come she doesn’t get a headline?

  10. Whew! good thing that particular Good Samaritan wasn’t a slavering pedophile…I am just saying…

  11. I just shoved my six year old out the door to school this morning–we live so close I can hear the playground noise from my front door. He does just fine walking the three blocks in a straight line by himself.

  12. I for one am grateful that neither the child, nor the Good Samaritan, was so brainwashed by the “every stranger is a potential pedophile” meme that the child was too fearful to seek or accept help or the adult too fearful to offer it.

  13. Can that headline be real– is it really news to put this article in the paper. I once chose to walk home from school rather than ride the bus when I was 6. It was a little scary, but I knew the way and got there even though it was close to a mile away. No one wrote an article about it. Something are just getting out of hand!

  14. Although the bus made regular pickups at the stop near my home, I was pulled aside as a kindergartner and personally informed by the principal that the school bus was only for the “retarded” (his word, not mine) kids, and I lived too close to the school to be permitted to ride.

    Just for kicks, now that I’m almost 30, I’ve google mapped the route and I see that it was about .8 miles. Granted, a very safe area, but a long way for a child so small, which explains why I had to pee behind a tree in a park every day on my way home so I wouldn’t wet my pants.

    I don’t know what case this is making, just throwing it out there.

  15. @ Tom – good advice on being a pest at public meetings; it really does work. I was a local-politics reporter at one point and I saw this work over and over. I also got to be good friends with longtime Houston city councilman Frank Mancusco (RIP Airborne!) who was on Council for over 30 years and I spent a lot of time standing on the steps of City Hall chatting with him while Frank smoked his cigar. One time I said “Frank, looks to me like you district guys (Houston’ Council is a mix of district reps and at-large members elected city-wide) really only work for about 25 people who are active in neighborhood stuff and you don’t want campaigning for your opponent; long as you keep those 25 people happy you’ll get re-elected.” Frank took a puff off his stogie and said “Actually, it’s more like 10 or 12.” So if you want to get things done, be one of that maybe-a-dozen.

    Of course, demeanor is everything when speaking to officials. One of the funniest things I ever saw sitting at the press table in council chambers – which was frequently like having a front-row seat on the Comedy Channel – was at a regular Tuesday public session. A well-dressed middle-aged black lady went up to the podium and said “Good morning, Council.” The mayor and the fourteen council members – who generally ignored public speakers unless the TV crews were rolling – continued to talk on the phone, chat with each other, shuffle papers, and so on. She sighed and said in a tone that would have done a Marine drill sargeant proud “I spent 35 years teaching elementary school for the Houston Independent School District, and when I say good morning I expect a response! Now let’s try this again! Good Morning Council!” 15 very sheepish elected officials who were giving her their undivided attention said in unison “Good morning, ma’am.” I don’t recall what she was there to complain about, but I guarantee the problem was fixed before she returned to her seat – they did not want her coming back.

  16. Terrible headline, but the incident isn’t all fear mongering.

    This seems to be a case where there was no intention for the kid to walk and if the child “had always ridden the bus or had been driven home” they may not have developed the skills we expect when we allow our kids to walk unattended. Add to that, that she became “lost and confused” and you have a situation where the kid seem pretty clearly unprepared for the situation she found herself in.

    It also appears that there was a gap in the oversight system at the school and perhaps they have strengthened the system without unnecessary restrictions. They still explicitly allow walking (which these days seems all-too-rare), but ensure that they are providing oversight for the children for whom they are responsible and point them in the right direction for departure.

    Despite the fear-mongering headline, it sounds like it was handled reasonably well.

  17. So when is the good samaratin getting out on bond?

  18. I walked to elementary school starting in kindergarten (everyone did), and there were two crossing guards at the busiest intersections. After reading this I found myself wondering whether there are enough kids in that neighborhood who still walk to school to necessitate the crossing guards. We all had great relationships with ours–their names were Frances and Mary and seeing them was such a nice part of the daily routine.

  19. @Melanie
    When I grew up the distance to ride the bus had to be more than a mile for grammar school and 2 for high school.

    Its a good thing no one caught you peeing behind trees in the park on your way home or you would be on an sex offender list.

  20. My daughter age 8 walks to school every day and has done so since she was 6 . Her best friend, who will be 10 in January, goes to a school (public) where parents are required to escort their child to the classroom door every morning. (Because, I suppose, the walk from the front entrance of the school, through the hallways, and to the classroom is fraught with danger!?)

    When we lived in the UK, the school run was a parental obligation and there was an expectation that parents wait with the children in the school yard until the bell rang to start the school day. I thought it was kind of nutty, but when in Rome etc… (although, of course, I think children actually are walking to school in Italy!)

  21. Ridiculous that anyone would run this as a story in the newspaper. If this kid was taught how to walk the route this wouldn’t have happened. If your manner of pickup changes day by day, it’s only a matter of time before you get your lines crossed.

    Even if she gets driven daily, she should know the route if a pickup ever fails again.

  22. It doesn’t say how far her actual home was from the school– she was escorted to her *godmother’s* house by the good Samaritan. Not every seven year old lives within walking distance of their school; many districts have kids from much more than than 2 mile radius attending the same school, and with the school choice laws in Florida, it seems like she could be attending a school on the other side of the city from her home.

    20 years after leaving school, I still have the occasional nightmare that I’ve missed the school bus home and have to figure out a way to get home when there is no one to call to pick me up. Mind you, part of that is from living for 5-7 years without a car and getting everywhere by public transit, when public transit often stopped at 6 pm M-Thursday and usually didn’t operate on Sundays at all.

    I can really sympathize with a 7-year-old who couldn’t figure out how she was supposed to get home.

  23. Just to add a little perspective, Williams is a magnet school, and many of the students are bussed in from all over town. The article, unfortunately, doesn’t specify if this student is in the magnet, or lives in the neighborhood, but that would change it’s significance.

    Coincidentally, my daughter attends that magnet. Her walk home would be about 7 miles.

  24. I can see both sides of this. The school, until the appropriate method to get home is taken, should know where the kids are. If she walks, great. If she rides a bus, great. If she rides with someone, great. But to not know where a 7 year old is, bad on them. They need to check their protocol if it’s that lax that kids can walk off. This has nothing to do with if kids should walk home. Goodness, I walked home from school and it was at least a mile away. This has to do with the school allowing a child to walk off that was in it’s care. I actually do have an issue with THAT part of the story.

    You know, being paranoid as a parent or school is bad. But, just pretending that there AREN’T bad people out there that hurt children is just as bad. There are. FACT. Pretending that little kids always look both ways, know all about their home information, and are equipped to do this at a moments notice, bad. This child wasn’t prepared. Maybe she should have been. But this isn’t just a parental thing, this is a school issue as well.

  25. My sisters and I had best sue our parents!! Starting in the first grade we were expected to get ourslves to and from school, which was five blocks away. Sure, we lived in a nice leafy suburb out side of NYC, and this was the late 1950’s and early 1960’s but GOOD GOD PEOPLE!!! anything could have happened.

    Oh wait: nothing happened. So we can let our parents RIP, and think about how nice it was to feel mature enough to be trusted to walk or bike ride (before helmets even!!), to school, the library, the park, music lessons, girl scouts etc.

    I feel so bad for kids growing up now. they’ll never know the joy of getting on a bike, with no scheduled destination, and just taking off for the day to wander aimlessly around.

  26. The headline was unfortunately worded.

    The problem was not that a 7yo walked home from school. It was that a 7yo who did not know how to walk home from school slipped through the cracks, got lost, and got scared.

    I walked home from school by myself every day when I was in kindergarten. But that’s because my mom taught me how. She walked with me at first (I don’t remember how many times; sorry, that was over a quarter century ago).

    On a related note, I have a confession to make: I’ve started living dangerously. I let my own kindergartener wait for the bus at the bus stop ALL BY HIMSELF. The bus stop is across the street. I went with him for the first two MONTHS or so because I was afraid of the danger, but now I have decided to boldly relax. Oh, what’s dangerous about letting him wait for the bus alone (while I watch thru the window, no less)? My freakazoid neighbors might call CPS (there is precedent). I’m not afraid about my kid’s safety at all, but of the chance of some helicopter wanna-be causing us a bureacratic nightmare.

  27. My husband was quite surprised one afternoon last month when the children showed up knocking on the door just as he was getting ready to go to the bus stop to wait for them! He’s usually there 10 minutes early, so the bus must have run close to 20 minutes early–quite unusual. It’s policy for the kids to be kept on the bus and taken back to school if there’s no designated adult waiting at the bus stop, but we’re fine that our 7 yo kids were dropped off to walk the half-mile from the bus stop to our home (on a private, dead-end road) with confidence. I’m not ready for them to do this regularly–the road is curvy and there are no sidewalks–but it was gratifying that my kids handled the hiccup in routine without issue or stress.

  28. Another Good Samaritan Story

    Today during a genuine Houston snow flurry I had the privilege of picking up a women with two small shivering children from their second bus stop of the morning and giving them a ride to her place of work.

    While this lady went into an office building to pick up her Friday paycheck — which took about 5 minutes or so — the girls (2 & 4) sat in the toasty-warm minivan of a total stranger and ate her children’s cheese crackers.

    Then they were driven home (about 20 mins away) as the we all sang Jingle Bells.

    Being Free Range — it’s a wonderful life.

  29. Good lord, NOOOOOOO!!!! The child had to WALK!? What is the this crazy world coming too? *Shaking my head and tsking*

  30. “After reading this I found myself wondering whether there are enough kids in that neighborhood who still walk to school to necessitate the crossing guards.”

    The modern purpose of a crossing guard is to stop traffic to allow parents’ cars to make the turn out of the school driveway. At least, that’s what they always seem to be doing in my school district.

  31. Young kids are pretty suggestable. If an adult who appeared to be in authority asked her, “Are you supposed to walk home today?” she may have replied, “Yes” because someone in authority put the idea into her mind. Or perhaps her best friend was walking home and she decided that sounded like a fun idea until she got lost. If indeed there had been some confusion within the family as to what method of transport she was to have that day, she would have been more likely to latch onto the first plausible idea that presented itself.

  32. Funny how when it’s a grandma waving at kids it’s all STRANGER DANGER, but when somebody picks up a kid, finds out where they live, and drives them in their car all of a sudden they’re a Good Samaritan.

  33. So according to the zelot Free-Rangers there are no sick-o’s we should throw our kids out the door and just not even try to find a middle ground between over-protective and under-protective.

    Just an FYI when The Fearless leader’s story first came out her little boy was featured heavily on several pedo sites our group monitors to have pics of kids removed and to get their collections removed from Free Photo hosting sites.

    I’m sure I’m just ridiculas to you all since my child is now riding the bus home and he calls me when he gets off the bus and we chat about his day as he makes his way home. I sure that is still too “helicopter” for you all and *gasp* the horror he calls me if he has a homework question or to ask permission to go out if he has finished his homework and the other kids are out. How dare I have raised a child that likes updating me on what he is doing. For the love of heaven I should have stopped talking to him and giving any guidence or direction once he could walk.

    Many here are very judgemental for people that don’t want to be judged.

  34. Are most of you SAHM/D s?

  35. My sister has a TERRIBLE sense of direction and would regularly get confused as to which way to walk when we were kids. Did that stop my parents from allowing her to walk home? NO!! Kind neighbours and other pedestrians would simply point her in the right direction.

    As a result, though she STILL remains directionally-challenged, she now lives in NYC. Where, daily, she is found asking directions. And getting to where she needs to be!

  36. @ Blissfully ignorant
    Anyone that has followed this site can tell you that it is not a matter of believing that there are no dangerous people out there but to have a realistic view of risk assessment. The sick-o’s are greatly outnumbered by the good people willing to help out. That is is we don’t count the sick-o’s that think that everything should be viewed as dangerous. There is a greater danger from people that we know than there is from some stranger. A study was in the news the other day that in general, people are predisposed to help others.

  37. Melanie,
    Where I live (Texas) the law is the state pays for bussing for students that are 2 miles from the school, have to cross a 4 lane road, a road over 40 mph, or students with special needs. District can but don’t have to pay for transportation of students going less than 2 miles that don’t have the other issues.

  38. I was watching a special on Princess Aiko of Japan this week (Dec. 1st was her 8th birthday). She walks to school. If she can do it, why can’t regular American kids walk to school?

  39. Isn’t it in Japan where they make a big deal that kids should get themselves to school by themselves, even if that means taking the trains in Tokyo and making transfers alone, from the age of six?

    I’m not surprised the princess does the same, then.

  40. I think it’s funny that there seems to be a much greater danger of neighbors and passers-by calling the cops on parents than there is of something icky actually happening!

    Child caregivers seem to be making these decisions to avoid legal sanctions, not to maximize safety, and that is backwards.

    Maybe we should let the government figure out the economic crisis and do our parenting ourselves!

  41. @Alison– What a wonderful story! Thanks for sharing it.

    I agree, it is a wonderful life.

  42. My son *just* turned 8 in October. He and his 8-year-old sister have been walking the mile to school since it started in August.

    Oddly enough, we took the time at some point to walk them the distance and the path numerous times – so they never sit down and cry. They also play outside with other kids unsupervised so… yeah.

    Wonder what they’d write about my kids:

    “Careless Mother Allows Her Children to Do Things from 50-YEARS AGO!”

  43. @Ignorancemustbebliss:
    “So according to the zelot Free-Rangers there are no sick-o’s we should throw our kids out the door and just not even try to find a middle ground between over-protective and under-protective.

    Just an FYI when The Fearless leader’s story first came out her little boy was featured heavily on several pedo sites our group monitors to have pics of kids removed and to get their collections removed from Free Photo hosting sites.

    I’m sure I’m just ridiculas to you all since my child is now riding the bus home and he calls me when he gets off the bus and we chat about his day as he makes his way home. I sure that is still too “helicopter” for you all and *gasp* the horror he calls me if he has a homework question or to ask permission to go out if he has finished his homework and the other kids are out. How dare I have raised a child that likes updating me on what he is doing. For the love of heaven I should have stopped talking to him and giving any guidence or direction once he could walk.

    Many here are very judgemental for people that don’t want to be judged.”

    Maybe the zealot ones – yes. But not all of us are zealots. Just like not all parents who decide to watch over their children are helicopter zealots.

    For not wanting to have people making generalizations about a group of people, you certainly make it sound as though you’re attacking everyone on this site as being a zealot who hates their children and doesn’t care. Just by naming Lenore the “Fearless Leader” you show us your mindset, which isn’t much better than some of the “zealots” that are on here… trust me… I’ve seen both sides of the coin and while you’re attempting to look like you’re not in one extreme – your response proves otherwise.

    There *is* a difference between “free-range” and “negligent,” my friend. The vast majority of us aren’t negligent – we believe in parenting the way it was and do so under the umbrella of understanding the numbers and statistics to offer us safety, rather than news stories.

    And yes, maybe Lenore’s son was all over pedo sites you guys monitor – but I’m sure pics of any kid plastered all over the news as missing, etc is plastered on the same sites, and *gasp* are actually right there on the TV set for pedos to see! It’s a bit over the top to try to use that as some sort of reasoning for not allowing your kids outside, or allow your child to do things without your constant monitoring. Your meaning anyone – not you specifically.

    Everyone brings up their children differently, but the main reason for the movement you see going on – whether or not you decide to classify every last one of us as “zealots” or “negligent” – is that we believe by allowing our children freedom, we are raising young adults that do not require checking in with their parents to make decisions (see “teacup children”), healthy children that don’t require a Wii in order to get up off the couch to move (because they get outside and use their imaginations to play), and aren’t going to sit down sobbing because they’re lost in their very own neighborhood.

  44. Oh my. I walked home from school by myself every single day from the time I started at 5. Well, not really by myself. There were all the other neglected and abandoned kids who also walked to and from school walking along the same route. If only I had known there was such drama in that process! Life would have been more interesting, perhaps.

  45. @Nicola – Well said!

  46. Thank God a Good Samaritan picked her up? Frankly, I’d be more concerned that the school didn’t call her parents to ask where her ride was, and that she was willing to get in the car with “a stranger.” Maybe they should practice walking to school so she knows how to get back and forth without getting lost–give the kid some autonomy!

  47. I missed the bus a handful of times. I was also a “latchkey kid” from fifth grade on (with neighbors that I could go to if I needed help). Both of my parents worked outside the home with hour-plus commutes — if I needed to stay late or get in early, I had to make arrangements with another kid’s family (or a safe-driving friend, in high school).

    I grew up in a neighborhood where I had two stops to choose from, so if I was a minute or so late for the first stop I could go to the next. If I missed both, well…That was a bit more tricky.
    Both my middle school and high school were about three miles away, but not the easiest places to get to on foot. (Some suburbs don’t have sidewalks outside of neighborhoods, as I’m sure some of you know.) And the bus routes to each were the “long way” — I didn’t know the direct route to my middle school until I was in eighth grade, because I wasn’t involved in after-school stuff and only saw the bus route’s path. The high school was on the main road in town (which, again, had no sidewalks), and I walked home a few times when I had to, which involved a few busy intersections (in which drivers did not always pay attention to pedestrians).

    But I always had a backup plan, just in case. My parents made sure that our neighbor was always the first contact in a minor situation (the second on the list was a woman from our church), and that I knew to go to the office if I missed the bus (some ADD kids, like me, don’t react well to stress and tend to forget everything).

    Like lots of other readers, I’m more concerned that this child didn’t know what to do and didn’t hesitate to get in a stranger’s car. Parents (in general) should have some kind of backup plan; even instruction to go to the principal’s office if you miss the bus (or your usual ride isn’t there) is better than getting lost and scared. Of course, walking with them is a good option if it’s a feasable option.

    Finally (I’m almost done I promise!), I’ve only accepted a ride from a “stranger” once. I was 19, in the military, living on base, and had bought a microwave without thinking about how heavy they are — and while my barracks were less than half a mile from the BX, it’s more challenging with a microwave. I figured the man (who was not in uniform, but I recognized him vaguely, and he outranked me by a lot) was more interested in goodwill than getting a 19-year-old into his car for mayhem, especially since our MPs were rather intense and didn’t play games. Anywhere else, with anyone else, I probably would have refused — unless it was a coworker or one of our MPs.

  48. Here’s the headline I’d like to see someday:

    “Millions of children got home from school safely today”

    Maybe even a sub-heading:
    “Parents not shocked”

  49. My first-grader frequently walks home from the bus stop (around the corner, out of sight of our house!!!!). The other day, I got stuck in traffic at the light leading into our subdivision and I ended up arriving at the house a few minutes late (I encountered the bus at the intersection). She already knows what to do if nobody’s home – go across the street to the neighbour’s house and call mom on her cell.

    tip: if your kids use a computer, they can memorize anything you want them to if you set it as the password to access the machine. They have a built-in incentive to learn it (and remember it) in a hurry! Naturally, don’t use something like that for accessing things online, because it’s easy to compromise, but it’s perfect for local machine access.

  50. I just asked my first-grader if she could find her way to and from school by herself. She said she did.

    Perhaps we need to test this theory sometime (when it’s warmer!)

  51. […] Tragedy Miraculously Averted! Hi Readers! I’m sorry for what happened to this kid, but is it NEWS? And did we NEED that last line? And as the […] […]

  52. It seems to me that, considering the number of different routes the child has to take in a given week that this might have been something the parents could have planned for.

    Even if the parents lived on the other side of town, the article states that the child’s godmother lived within reasonable walking distance. Perhaps they should have taught their child that if she misses the bus, or doesn’t remember where she’s supposed to go, that she should walk to her godmother’s house, or call her godmother and have her take her where she needs to go? Or, they could even give the girl a schedule that says whether or not she needs to ride the bus to the YMCA.

    Like others have said, I think this is more a case of the child slipping through the cracks, both in the school’s system and in the family’s system. The school should be responsible to a degree, but if the child can’t even remember her own schedule, how is a school expected to remember hers and everyone else’s?

  53. Just… lol Gainesville.

    (I live here.)

  54. Lisa S again here (commenter #1). Here’s an update on the dangerous crosswalk I mentioned a few weeks ago:

    This morning, with my son, I stepped into the crosswalk. Since the car approaching in the near half of the crosswalk didn’t look like it was slowing down, I put my arm out as i was crossing. Instead of stopping, the driver crossed the double yellow line into the oncoming lane of traffic!

    By the way, I posted about this dangerous crosswalk (which is on the main road that passes both the only elementary school in town and the only high school in town) to a yahoo group for town issues. The mayor said he would refer my concern to the police department, but I haven’t seen any police presence monitoring traffic in the area.

  55. Keep being noisy!! In Oregon, it’s a law you MUST yield a crosswalk to a pedestrian and they have stings All. The. Time. Keep pressure on them. Talk to the newspaper and/or local news to do a story about how this crosswalk is constantly violated.

  56. TYVM you\’ve solved all my proeblms

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