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As Summer Ends, Parents Wonder How Young Is Too Young For A Child To Walk To School

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Should you let your child walk to school without you? That is the question some parents are pondering as the school year approaches.

As CBS2's Elise Finch found out, the answer depends on who you ask.

"Probably like 15-years-old, 14 or 15-years-old," Agnes Horvath-Rodick said.

"I would say like over 8, 9," Abby Hail said.

"I remember growing up I was going to grammar school walking by myself, but nowadays I guess ten," Peter Tangerman said.

Some may think 10 is too young, but it's the benchmark according to many safety organizations.

That's because several years ago a study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that children 10 and over were significantly better at identifying safe places to cross the road, detecting traffic and road dangers, and coordinating information from multiple parts of the traffic environment than younger children.

Pediatrician Vicki Iannotti said each parent needs to assess their own child and make a decision based on their behavior.

"It's a matter of knowing that their child knows the basic safety of crossing the street, looking both ways, not being distracted with someone who might be talking to them if they're walking with a buddy," Dr. Iannoti said. "Can they follow directions if the parent leaves them for a half an hour to run to the store and they're told what they can and cannot do at home, are they following those directions?"

Experts said parents who choose to let their children walk to school alone should do at least one practice run before the first day.

"We're talking about it and stuff like that," Virginia Hail said, "I'll probably go to the crossing guard and do what she says."

Experts said only parents really know what their children can handle. If yours isn't ready to go it alone, don't feel bad about telling them no.

If your child isn't ready to walk to school alone just yet some experts suggest organizing a 'walking school bus' -- that's a group of students walking together with one or more adults.


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