When is it Safe for Teens to Walk Alone?
Archived Q&A and Reviews
Our son is attending a small, high school in SF which has an ''open campus'', meaning that the kids are not required to stay at the school for lunch. The school is in a ''safe'' neighborhood in the city, so I'm told. I'm nervous since our son attended a very sheltered middle school on the Peninsula and he is socially naive. Any advice/guidelines on keeping him safe? I know it'll be a great experience for him and I don't want to convey that he won't be able to handle himself. Thanks Mom
So much depends on where the school is. Basic rules -- avoid eye contact on the streets, avoid conversations with strangers, sit near the front of a bus, stay with friends -- and he'll quickly learn when to feel comfortable and when to be on guard. But in general, try to put aside your anxieties and think of this as great practice for when he's living on his own! City mom
Hi, We have a 16-year-old daughter who feels comfortable walking around Berkeley with friends and alone. She has a fair amount of independence during the day and we feel comfortable with that. In the evening her Dad or I walk or drive to pick her up when she is coming home alone after dark.
She wants to be able to walk home from a friend's house -- just a few blocks away -- by herself after dark. We want to encourage independence but we're also concerned about safety. She does have the local Berkeley 911 number programmed into her phone and we talk with her about being aware of her surroundings, not using her ipod, etc.
We are in North Berkeley, which is pretty safe but certainly not crime-free.
I'm wondering how much independence other parents allow their teen daughters, specifically walking around town in the evening/after dark. concerned mom
I get your concern. No matter what you do, there is a risk. If you let your daughter walk at night a few blocks there is a risk of a problem. If you don't let her walk there is a risk of over-dependence and an unnecessary delay in her ability to act for herself. We also have a 16 yr old girl, and do let her walk home in the evening in our neighborhood, which is in the Richmond Hills. Weighing on this decision was our awareness that children need to find out about the world and learn to operate more independently as they reach their mid to later teens. Letting the bird fly
My husband and I have strict family rules about our daughter, 15 1/2, going out with friends. A young girl walking around without a responsible adult is at real risk of being hassled or attacked, especially at night. Before we gave her that freedom, we had our daughter complete a teen self-defense course through Kidpower and highly recommend them. We allow her to go to the Cal Campus/Telegraph Avenue area or Emeryville's Bay Street Mall during the day if she is with a responsible friend. We do not allow her to be out after dark, unless she is with a responsible adult. At first, we told her to be home by dark, but that led to too many arguments about when dark is. Now, we tell her what time she must be on BART, which changes with the seasons. If she is not home on time, we ground her. Nancy