Child Walks Home From School—Panic Ensues

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

milk-carton-missingA Seattle news medium saw it fitting to send a news team out to investigate a report of a child leaving school early and walking home. No, it was not The Onion but KOMO News. It does show a sense of the zeitgeist and the culture of fear that is sadly inherent in many today.

A five year old boy wanted to walk home after having first been driving to school by his father. He then left school early and walked home to see his mother. He reportedly walked a mile to reach home.

In an interview with reporters, the father reported that he was “scared to death” when he received a call from the school the boy left.

“When somebody like that calls you, you think of every milk carton kid, every lost kid, every child molester”

The parents are now saying they will be home schooling their children beginning next school year.

The school admitted its error and vowed to beef up security and have more adults guarding the perimeter of the school as well as on crosswalks and throughout the area surrounding the school. It showed surveillance video of the boy leaving.

No Sidewalk !
No Sidewalk !

A news crew had a video segment retracing the boy’s route home. The reporter commented how there was no sidewalk and what he described as heavy traffic. (one car driving by) He asked rhetorically at an intersection “How could a little five year old get across without being hit?”

Danger At Every Turn
Danger At Every Turn

Then came the almost predictable reference to sex offenders amok in the community

“And I did some checking. There are five registered sex offenders in this general area; [Lacey, WA] fortunately, none around this route.”

Five Sex Offenders!
Five, count-em, FIVE Sex Offenders In The General Area

Statistically, the boy would have a greater chance of being struck by lightning than being abducted. But the fear is that child molesters wait behind trees and mailboxes all day to pounce upon wayward children.

Remembering back, somehow I survived my half-mile walk to kindergarten along with many of my other classmates. In fact, some of my elder relatives who went to school walking or on horseback generations ago seemed to have survived long enough to continue the family lineage. But today the perception of risk is so detached from actual risk the mollycoddling and defensiveness exercised by parents brings up the question of what is actually more of a risk to the children–the culture of fear or the extremely remote risk.

Sadly, a child errantly walking home becomes matter for a major news outlet.

Source: KOMO News

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211 thoughts on “Child Walks Home From School—Panic Ensues”

  1. Somehow, I thought I could get my picture of that snake to show here.. But somehow it won’t. Oh, well, it was a very VERY BIG black rattlesnake you see. I tried to let you see it. Probably got the html stripped of of it. or bad HTML.

  2. A world of pussies. When I was 4 years old I wanted to run away from home and my Mom packed me a little suitcase and sent me on my way, in the middle of the city. Of course I returned soon. But what she did was the right strategy.

  3. bam, I am sorry for any misunderstanding. I was not referring to you.

  4. musings, Great point about cars. We would take our kids friends to big cities. Our kids knew how to act and behave in the city. Many of their friends did not. Many Cheesdheads are afraid to take their kids to big cities. I would have to assure the parents. Knowing both my wife and myself are streetwise helped put the parents minds @ ease. One of the first things I would impress on these kids is that they were not going to get attacked by a gang member. Their BIGGEST risk was cars, particularly taxi’s. I taught them just because it says walk you MUST check all directions to make sure there is not a 3rd World cab driver blowing a red light. I gave this lesson forcefully w/ “the look.”

  5. musing, I mentioned in one of my earlier comments the FUNDAMENTAL FACT that there is safety in numbers. Predators in the animal and human kingdom look for prey separated from the herd. One of the best FACTS you can impress upon kids is there is the safety in numbers. The more the numbers, the safer. Lots of emotion here. Great to see some logic and common sense.

    1. Nick, one of the biggest conflicts in Life are emotions versus logic. One creates irrational behavior, the other rational actions. Even in the same individual. A friend of mine, Al, and I were out hiking up near Prescott one day. We stopped at an overlook on the trail, and Al stepped up and leaned against a railing. I looked down and there was the biggest black Timber Rattlesnake I had ever seen, coiled up right next to Al’s left foot and Al hadn’t see it. I said in a very relaxed but clear voice, “Al, very calmly take two giant steps sideways to your right.” Al did exactly what I told him to do and then looked down where he had been standing. He almost filled his hiking shorts when he saw the snake. It was about six feel long and about three inches in diameter with a huge head. “Oh, man! Thank you for spotting that! I didn’t see him at all.” he said. “Yeah, he looked pretty laid back, just sunning himself, probably wouldn’t have struck, but I figured you wouldn’t have wanted to taken that chance,” I replied. “Glad you didn’t get all excited, or I might have gotten upset and stepped the wrong way,” he said. “Well, slow, deliberate actions and low voices were less likely to threaten that big guy, so that just seemed like the logical thing to do.” I told him. Then we both sat down about six feet away and started taking photos of the snake. Eventually he got tired of listening to us, uncoiled, and crawled of down the side of the mountain into the bushes. Never rattled once, so we were safe.

  6. When I grew up in an era of free range kids, none of whom were as fat as they are today, whole gangs of kids would walk to and from school. Of course, there were some bullies in the mix. But of all the deaths of all the children I ever knew, the causes were never abductions – they were automobiles. One boy threw a rock into a busy street and ran out thoughtlessly to pick it up. Another tried to run across a freeway with his two elder brothers. No abductions by strangers. These are and were rare. But automobiles are around for pick-up and delivery of kids all day – that’s the world we live in, along with multiple lawn services and others speeding around at all hours. Lots more vehicles on the road, and the drivers don’t usually perpetrate abductions but they do talk on their cellphones while swinging around blind corners. That’s what’ll kill your kid, a thousand times more likely.

  7. Nick

    I don’t understand your last comment.

    You think that it is inappropriate to reference a story mentioned by a contributor and to use it in my remarks? There was nothing stated in my remarks which was meant to be offensive or derogatory. I’m confused by your statement. Is it referring to me?

  8. JAG had it right about this person, dead on right. JAG and I have gone toe to toe many times. But we have the emotional stability to argue differences, be they political or topical, and NOT GET PERSONAL.

  9. bam, Facts show your view of “reality” is not based on facts. There was more crime back in the 60’s-80’s then there is now. What there is MUCH more of now is MSM selling unwarranted fear, be it child snatchers on every block to killer winter storms. Reject the perception that you must hover over children. Arm them w/ tools to assess situations when you are not present. Telling them that every person they don’t know is a potential kidnapper/rapist, and they should not talk to anyone they don’t know is horribly bad advice. This is not my opinion, this is based on fact. JAG had a good link to point this out. I gave you a link on the subject. There is much more info if you are willing to put your emotion aside and think logically. Teach kids to use their gut. Kids, in many respects, while lacking our life experiences, have a better gut instinct than adults. Not letting them use that precious gut instinct causes them to lose it. That is the theme of the valuable book, The Gift of Fear, that I referenced earlier.

  10. Paul C

    Your comment @ 9:35 pm, May 9, 2015

    In 1950, your parents loaded you onto a train, for a 600 mile journey, alone. You never mention how old you were at the time, but I’m assuming that you were a young child. Using that as an example, to prove how safe it is for young children to travel alone and unaccompanied, in 2015, doesn’t make sense. Your parents, God bless them, believed that you would be safe, and, thankfully, you were. They admonished you to avoid drunks and card players; it’s as humorous as it is quaint. For 1950, with the level of awareness that people possessed in that era, those comments made perfect sense. Your parents truly believed that they were protecting you from harm if they warned you against drunks and card players. The 1950’s, I would claim, was a much more innocent time, and it is reflected in their comments. Your parents would have never thought to warn you about the handsome man, wearing a business suit and a charming grin or the sweet grandfatherly type. In 2015, we are more than aware, that evil comes in all shapes and sizes. It isn’t just the guy in the trench coat, with foam in the corner of his mouth, who poses a danger. You simply miss the mark by equating your experiences, from over 65 years ago, with the realities of today. Sadly, those days are long gone.

    1. bam bam – my father was kind enough to warn me about both men and women who might want to take advantage of me and what to look out for.

  11. BamBam and Squeeky are on the side of prudence. And I didn’t hear Karen S. saying she would be comfortable allowing this five year old child make that walk on the shoulder of the road for a mile. Are they paranoid helicopter parents? I’d love to see those who think that a five year old should be allowed to walk a mile on the shoulder of the road challenge them too. Let’s hear a real debate.

  12. BamBam had it right about this person, dead on right. I may not agree with her on many political issues, but I think she has great instincts.

  13. There is a difference in a five year old and an 11 year old. A world of difference in those childhood years. I’ve raised four children and have four grandchildren. I was careful with my children’s lives without being a helicopter parent. IT IS POSSIBLE. My kids all grew up to be independent and strong. One a lawyer, one a Navy Corpsman, one a stay at home mom and one a Millwright tradesman. Not one is shy, scared, retiring or paranoid. Nor are they blind to the realities of living in this country and raising children. I hear a lot of bluster and tough talk on this thread, but I somehow think that if their own five year old were to have taken this walk on the side of a road for a mile, we would be seeing a different story coming out of their mouths.

    1. Inga – there are two parts to this 1) the five year old is clearly capable of walking a mile to his mother’s house by himself. 2) the school needs to be more secure.

  14. JAG, your common sense is the norm in the world. Basing our actions on facts is the way most people choose to lead their lives. A parent projecting unwarranted fear onto kids is not healthy. Any shrink will tell you that for $250/hr. Or, they could just email you.

  15. No JAG, one does and one SHOULD because that difference of opinion could mean an innocent child’s life. This may be a mere internet discussion but if those who think it’s perfectly acceptable for a five year old to walk alone on the shoulder of a road for a mile think it’s acceptable ( your buddy) then I do question their parenting skills. Absolutely.

  16. I would say thank goodness for good mothering and good fathering of some.


    Annie, I LOVE you … BUt, that is just FLAT OUT offensive.
    You don’t call into question people’s parenting skills over a difference of OPINION.

    The HYPE on Child abduction is just that, HYPE… It is FAR FAR FAR more rare, than the hype has people believe.

    One person even posted a case with an 11 year old boy…

    Would you NOT allow an 11 year old to walk home?

    Good parenting is measured by children growing up into psychologically HEALTHY adults. Fear is NOT healthy..
    By the way, EVERY Psychology Study on this subject, is actually on Nick’s and my side.

    Now, I clarified, that No, I do not believe that it is a good idea to allow a 5 year old to just decide to walk home ONE day, and sneak out of school.
    Yes, the school should NOT have allowed this to happen.
    BUT, as it was pointed out, kids are smarter than we think, they will find a way.
    and just because it was NOT a really good idea, does NOT mean that this LEVEL of panic was warranted.

    ON the broader subject, I do think that Americans are TOO paranoid.

    There is a happy medium between 5 year olds sneaking out of school and walking home, and DRIVING a 16 year old to and FROM school IN EUROPE. 😀

  17. I see that all the females on this thread except for one who lives in Europe, think this was a dangerous situation. Some of the males agree. I would say thank goodness for good mothering and good fathering of some.

  18. re: tyger gilbert, my son did the same thing, only in our rural area, his school was 25 miles from home. He convinced his teacher (who did not even call us to confirm) that we had moved to the tiny town where the school is located. Most of the kids who live in the town do walk to and from school; my 6-year-old headed down the highway and was fortunately picked up by another mom who dropped him off at our place of business. It was a harrowing experience for us, and for the school officials involved.

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