School Is Not Responsible for Sick 7-Year-Old Who Walked Home Alone

Rant 178

little girl walkingA mom in Missouri is understandably freaking out a little bit after her 7-year-old daughter walked home from school after visiting the school nurse because she felt sick.

Supposedly the nurse told Emily Box to go and get her backpack because her father was coming to pick her up from school. Somehow the little girl misunderstood and wound up walking past the principal's office and straight out the front door. And then she managed to make the one-mile trek back to her home, where her father found her on the front porch.

Her mom Kristi explains, "On her walk home, she had to walk past a sex offender's house, over train tracks, past a creek and all with no sidewalks."

More from The Stir: 6 Signs Your Child Is Too Sick for School

The little girl, of course, was totally unfazed and saw the whole thing as an adventure. But of course, her parents are pretty pissed and are even contemplating moving her to another school.

Ugh. I can't even begin to imagine how panicked her parents must have been during the hour she was gone. I know I'd absolutely freak if my 7-year-old's whereabouts were unknown -- but I'm just not sure the school is to blame in this case.

Ok, so it's a little strange that Emily was able to walk out of the school without anyone noticing -- but it's not like the staff shoved her out the door and sent her on her merry way. The nurse supposedly gave her instructions and informed her that her dad would be there to pick her up. It really sounds like she either a) did not understand, or b) decided to take it upon herself to head home instead of waiting for her father's arrival. She's 7 -- not 5. Seven-year-olds are perfectly capable of listening to and following directions, so it is possible she just felt like taking a walk ... right?

And when the school did realize she was missing, they did the right thing by going into lockdown and conducting a thorough search for her. Had they been nonchalant about the whole deal, I can see where the parents are justified in complaining. But based on the turn of events that occurred -- it really does appear to be nothing but a big miscommunication.

Yes, we should expect schools to keep our kids safe and do everything possible to avoid "losing" them. But we also have to realize the people who work there are only human, and sometimes mistakes like this do happen. Maybe this incident will help this school tighten their policies a little more so another child doesn't wind up taking a hike in the future. But in the meantime, Emily's parents probably shouldn't be too concerned about sending their daughter back. Heck, she's probably safer than any other child in that school at this point. Do you really think they'd run the risk of letting her slip away again?

Do you think the school is at fault here?


Image via Elizabeth/Table4Five/Flickr

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the4m... the4mutts

Damn straight they are!! Their school is so "open" that the kid just walked out?? Wtf?

And if she was sick, why was she not left in the nurses office, behind a closed door, or sat next to the secretaries desks?

At my kid's school, the kids can not leave unless they scale 9ft fences. The school is on lockdown every single day, for the kid's safety.

The only way out, is through the office, and one of the workers has to buzz the kids through 1 door into the office, and 1 door out towards the parking lot. And sick or not, kids aren't allowed to walk home during school hours, only after school. So if the kid has to leave early, the parents or emergency contact have to be there, with an ID, before they will even buzz the kid to the front of the office.

This is completely the school's fault, and the parents have every right to yank her out.

keelh... keelhaulrose

How did not one adult notice this girl leaving and walking away by herself? In my daughters school all exits are rigged to set off an alarm if opened if a button isn't pressed first- a button way out of the reach of the kids. 

The nurse should have asked the girl to repeat the instructions so she knew the girl understood, and walked her to get her backpack if she wasn't sure.

Tyson Fricker

Yes, the school is at fault. They are responsible for her safety and failed to ensure it. 

nonmember avatar Emmie

Yes, she is their responsibility until a parent arrives. I don't see how a kid can just walk out of the school with nobody noticing. However, on the flip side, the parents are overreacting a bit. She walked home, she survived, and based on the way the school handled the situation, my guess is they won't make the same mistake twice. Pulling her out of her school is silly.

Demon... DemonasMom

This sort of happened at my school. In third grade a girl in my class asked if she could go get her jacket because she was cold. The teacher agreed and the girl left....then walked home to get her jacket. The school nurse should have probably made her stay in the office until her dad arrived then go get her backpack.

Robin Hartman

Our school is not locked down or fenced in. We have open corridors and exterior hallways. Kids first grade and up are trusted to go to the bathroom and come right back or go to the nurses office to get a bandaid or something. It's totally possible they could leave on their own if they wanted to. But, a typical child won't do that. It would never occur to my kids (5, 7 and 8) to leave school alone. Maybe this child was special needs or something. If my child left school on their own, I would be mad at them. Do you really think elementary school aged children don't know they can't just leave school whenever they feel like it? 

nonmember avatar Lori

Yes. The school failed to do its job. We trust our schools to educate our kids and keep them safe. I would be very angry at the school if this happened to one of my children. However, the school isn't the only one at fault. I would certainly be very upset at my child for going home, too.

the4m... the4mutts

Lori- I agree. If the child doesnt typically walk home (though who knows, since she knew the way) then the child has no excuse for leaving without an adult either.

She's 7. The school should have watched her better, AND she should be able to follow directions.

keelh... keelhaulrose

Robin, I've got a feeling you're one of these incidents away from having a lockdown.

Todd Vrancic

When my son was in Kindergarten, they called me to come get him because he got lice.  He was just told he was going home, so he got his jacket and headed home.  When I got there, he was gone, and they had no idea where he was.  Cue the line "Just what kind of idiots work here?"  I found him walking home.  I took him back to the school and treated them to a full-on papa-bear rant.

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