Free-Range Kids

Child Services Shouldn't Bother Moms Who Let Their Kids Walk Home From School

We're not criminalizing danger. We're criminalizing childhood independence.

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The South Carolina mom who wants her kids' elementary school to allow them to walk home alone could find herself facing an investigation.

Ominously, at the end of a local news story about Jessie Thompson's quest to get her kids' school to permit them to enjoy some fresh air, the anchorwoman said, "Social Services could be called if the children are left to walk home on their own."

"Left" to walk home. As if the mom is abandoning her kids, rather than trusting them.

The story, chronicled here, involves Thompson, a mom of four. Her three youngest, ages 9, 10, and 11, attend Spann Elementary School in Summerville, South Carolina. They already walk alone in that neighborhood—and look both ways before crossing—on their way to extracurriculars. But the principal has said they can't walk home from school without an adult present. Thompson must come pick up the kids, or the school will put them on the bus.

The school is situated off a four-lane highway, mistakenly identified as a six-lane highway by the TV reporter. (It has extra turning lanes.) "The Thompson family lives on one side of the parkway and Spann Elementary School is on the other," intoned the reporter as the camera dramatically zoomed out to illustrate the intersection.

It has a crosswalk as well as Walk/Don't Walk signs. If the school believes no child can traverse this safely, why not station a crossing guard there, rather than insisting that each and every parent come fetch their kids?

The bus ride takes longer than the walk: During COVID-19, it actually seems less safe than the fresh-air option. As for insisting a parent come pick up the kids, this is a burden on anyone who can't afford to leave her job in the middle of the day. Presumably, child protective services has better things to do than investigate parents whose kids walk home from school.

For Thompson, the issue is simple: Why is the school allowed to dictate what kids do once they leave school property? A lawyer for the district, Christy Graham, said the school is wary of liability issues. An "additional concern of the district [is] for our students not to be harmed."

But how far into the children's home life does the school's right to be concerned" extend? It doesn't dictate where the kids can walk on evenings and weekends, after all.

"I'm not naïve," says Thompson. "It's a major intersection." But just because it's not 100 percent safe doesn't mean it's 100 percent dangerous. No intersection can be guaranteed safe, but neither can a car ride to or from the school. Indeed, car passenger deaths are the number one way children die in America. Yet no one stops parents from driving their kids home.

We aren't really criminalizing danger—we're criminalizing parents who don't helicopter. Which means we are criminalizing childhood independence.

With any luck, South Carolina will pass the Reasonable Childhood Independence Bill that had passed the Senate unanimously and was working its way toward the House before the pandemic shut the legislature down. Parents know their kids best. If they believe their kids are ready for a time-honored independence milestone, they should not be threatened with an investigation for neglect. Not by schools, and not by the media.

NEXT: Predictive Policing or Targeted Harassment?

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  2. “It has a crosswalk as well as Walk/Don’t Walk signs. If the school believes no child can traverse this safely, why not station a crossing guard there, rather than insisting that each and every parent come fetch their kids?”

    Because that would be the smart thing. That or putting up common sense pedestrian safety measures as well so we’re not subjecting our kids to idiot drivers (or at least unrestrained idiot drivers.)

    1. Or none of the above, you are fear-stricken and irrational. ‘Subjecting’ children to ‘unrestrained’ drivers? How do you make it past your front door into the scary world?

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  3. The way things are going this is going to be a non-story going forward. If the teachers unions have their way, children will never go to school again.

    1. Which would be fine if they didn’t expect the same funding and control, which they totally do

    2. Which, if it’s done right, could allow learning to take place in much less time with less staff, and without brick or mortar.

  4. “They already walk alone in that neighborhood—and look both ways before crossing—on their way to extracurriculars.”

    It is telling that the disaffected malcontent who wrote this article purports to be familiar with the habits of those three children to this degree.

    She’s flailing. That’s much of what misfits do.

    1. You clever fellow

      1. So clever.

        1. When he drops by his club, the other clever fellows nod at him diffidently as he checks his coat. For he is the cleverest.

    2. My bet, Kirkland, is that those 3 children are brighter than you, and would pick up on the fact that you are the misfit flailing in this instance. Your assumption that Skenazy didn’t do due diligence as a journalist is likely based on consumption of the culture war ‘betters’ media, whom almost never bother to actually reach out to the people they write about.

      1. My boots are brighter than Kirkland.

        1. A black hole is brighter than Kirkland.

    3. “Disaffected” is the Good Reverend’s favorite word. But he overuses it in a desperate attempt to sound intelligent.

      It’s the most “smart sounding” word he knows.

      1. Would you prefer alienated . . . disgruntled . . . irrelevant . . . dissatisfied . . . anti-social . . . marginalized? Perhaps misfit . . . or malcontent . . . or loser?

    4. Maybe she talked to the mother.

      1. That is not what this report indicates.

        It’s a shabby, polemical report from a partisan misfit.

    5. WTF are you whining about now, you faggot? Kids being self-reliant and walking home from school? THAT’S your fucking problem? Goddamn, you’re pathetic.

      Do us all a favor, Rev, and go play in traffic. And be sure to NOT look both ways before you cross. Make the world a better place… by removing yourself from it.

      1. Stomping the preferences of anti-social, bigoted, clingers like you, Drake, in the American culture war has been a pleasure and an important public service.

        Enjoy life at the inconsequential fringe of modern America . . . until you are replaced. By your betters.

  5. If the school believes no child can traverse this safely, why not station a crossing guard there

    Maybe the parents should get together and do this on a volunteer basis. Perhaps a local boy scout* could do this to earn a merit badge. If they want to get the government out of the business of raising their children, then they may want to look to other means when they need help raising their children first.

    *Or whatever they are called now.

    1. Don’t be such a disaffected malcontent. Only government can make correct decisions for the citizens.

      1. Only Top Men have the information and wisdom needed.

        1. State-is-the-solution cultists would suggest allocating loads of $ for a study. Because, science. They Believe In Science. But not the scientific method.

      2. If we don’t tell people what to eat, they would all be trying to eat dirt, and chairs.

        – Quote from the USDA

        1. I hope Kirkland eats some dirt. Or, put another way, bites the dust. 😉

  6. They could catch the ‘rona. It’s all over outside. Only masks and confinement can defeat it. You don’t want your kids catching it. I hear it is a death sentence.

  7. A lawyer for the district, Christy Graham, said the school is wary of liability issues.
    The locals schools close for inclement weather for a similar reason. They’re afraid of being blamed if someone crashes trying to get to school on slick roads.

    1. Liability? As in, all together on an enormous fucking bus driven by a retard?

      1. It wasn’t bus crashes. It was private car crashes that got them to close schools. People around here suck at driving midday on dry roads.

      2. Liability?!

        FFS The school must be afraid of the verdicts that will be rendered against them by the jury members that were educated by them. Meaning, they know how and what they were taught to feel/think/feel/believe/feel some more and fear it will not bode well for them.

        The school could get better insurance coverage, have parents sign a waiver or use their powerful unions to lobby for the passage of legislation expressly exempting schools from this liability if they are so concerned. But, nooooooooooooo. Control must be maintained.

        Cops use that same vicarious liability bullshit to justify violating peoples’ rights like unlawfully demanding ID by those exercising protected 2nd amendment activities after Karen called 9-1-1 on them.

  8. Child Services Shouldn’t Bother Moms Who Let Their Kids Walk Home From School

  9. Defund Child Services

  10. No child left alone.

  11. I’m gonna need to see picks of the Mom in order to appropriately determine whether or not she should be bothered while her kids walk home from school.

  12. We aren’t really criminalizing danger—we’re criminalizing parents who don’t helicopter. Which means we are criminalizing childhood independence.

    Close. Certainly a more relevant interpretation, but per her previous comments, we’re criminalizing rationality. Literally forcing people to choose the empirically more dangerous option.

  13. Ominously, at the end of a local news story about Jessie Thompson’s quest to get her kids’ school to permit them to enjoy some fresh air, the anchorwoman said, “Social Services could be called if the children are left to walk home on their own.”

    Stupid cunt (the anchorwoman). If she likes personal intrusions by agents of the state, perhaps she would enjoy meeting the local SWAT team.

  14. “We aren’t really criminalizing danger”

    We certainly as fuck are. The nanny state works furiously to identify real and imagined dangers every day, in order to proscribe human behaviors that might possibly, maybe, sort of involve any risk. And then demand laws (and enforcement) with equal furor.

    Ultimately we will criminalize all personal decisions.

    1. Salt is not good for you, hence, it is illegal.

      1. return of the goiter

  15. Since governments can hardly do the things that they are constitutiinaly charged with doing, they should leave parenting to parents.
    Parents matter, and it’s not the government’s job to monitor, question, or step in and “fix” things according to some legislated formula.
    And BTW, children have two parents.
    Only
    Those that feel some urge to meddle with how other people raise their children butt the hell out

  16. Her three youngest, ages 9, 10, and 11, attend Spann Elementary School in Summerville, South Carolina.

    In 2nd grade in Oklahoma, I walked home with plenty of other kids. Nothing happened.
    In 3rd grade in outside of Pittsburgh, I walked home with plenty of other kids, through the same woodland trails that hunters used. Nothing happened.

    I had no idea we were all being neglected.

    1. I walked home from bloody kindergarten. This is madness.

  17. Presumably, child protective services has better things to do than investigate parents whose kids walk home from school.

    When you presume you make a press out of you and me.

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  19. I wonder how many of these hysterical stories about stuff focused on kids is driven by the perpetual childhood of the past few decades. If people never grow up, do they see themselves as children? Do they crave a universal protective nanny society? Can they possible perceive that actual children need enough freedom to grow up themselves?

  20. You don’t need a state law to protect the kids. Stop passing state laws. If your town is full of busy-bodies, leave.

  21. “It has a crosswalk as well as Walk/Don’t Walk signs. ”

    so….. the kids want to walk home along a path designed to have pedestrians….. i don’t see what the problem is. there is something already there with the sole purpose of letting people cross on foot safely.

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  22. For Thompson, the issue is simple: Why is the school allowed to dictate what kids do once they leave school property?

    The issue is even simpler. On what freaking planet is a school located adjacent to a major road. This post-WW2 fetishizing of the car is just insane and Americans don’t even realize it anymore. It’s just normal now. So lets drive our kids everywhere. That’s normal now too.

    1. And BTW the main reason kids stopped walking or biking to school was – right turn on red. That first started after the 1973 oil crisis for fuel efficiency. The intended result was that intersections no longer have any notion that traffic should stop before turning right on red. The unintended and entirely predictable result was the drivers now look left while turning right. The beginnings of hey maybe I can text while looking left while turning right.

      By the early eighties those right turn on red laws were in every state and pedestrian/biking fatalities rose quickly. Within a year or so after that, bike armor became available in stores everywhere – and soon mandatory – and then biking plummeted. And parents started driving their new generation of precious around.

      1. As a runner who has logged thousands of miles I can attest that crossing a street at an intersection with lights is way more dangerous than crossing in the middle without a crosswalk. I’ve had this discussion multiple times with cops that detained me for jaywalking.

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