As a parent, probably the hardest decision to make is when to let your child have more freedom, more independence, and how much. When is it okay to let them go to a sleepover? When to play outside alone? And when to leave the house and go somewhere alone? It all depends on you, your child, and your neighborhood, and the activities involved, of course, but there is never a cut-and-dried answer. For Noshat Nahian, who was 8 years old, walking to school alone with his 11-year-old sister turned to tragedy when a truck turned a corner and hit him.
The siblings were in the crosswalk, they had the right of way, and they were only a block from their school in the Bronx, New York. But the truck driver, who was unlicensed, turned the corner, didn't see them, and the worst happened. He hit little Noshat, leaving him dead in the street.
His sister panicked and ran home to get her mother. The driver stayed at the scene of the accident and was arrested for various vehicular charges, but not yet charged with the boy's death (and may never be -- punishment for vehicular deaths like these are notoriously lax).
But I can only imagine what his mom must be feeling -- probably wondering if she should have ever let him walk to school with his sister.
I have a school near me with children about this age. I mostly see parents walking their kids to school, despite the crossing guards on duty. I don't blame them. There is a very busy city street right by the school, and there have already been several accidents at a corner the kids must cross. It's extremely dangerous. There are drivers here who would run you down without a second thought.
But there comes a time when you, as a working parent, or even one who may have younger children or elderly parents, or other things to take of, can't walk your older children to school. When you have a kid, you don't say to yourself, "I'll spend every day, twice a day, for the next 16 years, walking this child to school."
As for the crossing guards ... I see them every day. And I will be honest, I have no freaking idea what they are doing. I have not once seen them help a child. They stand there. Maybe that is all they're supposed to do. No word if the corner where Noshat was killed had a crossing guard.
The street he died on is an extremely busy, intricate, big city street. I just don't know about kids walking alone on it, though I don't want to judge because I do not know the kids or how much the mom prepped them. Also, the fault is with the driver.
As a parent, you spend years teaching your kids how to stop, and look both ways, and how to cross on the light.
These kids were doing everything right and it didn't help them.
At what age did you start letting your kids walk around town alone?
Image via The Tire Pit/Flickr