Tuesday, 4 October 2016


Copyright: <a href='http://www.123rf.com/profile_mettus'>mettus / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

It's 1980cough and I'm walking to school with my bezzie mate. We eat dairy milk chocolate bars - yes on the way to school - and chat about the England football players or members of INXS we're going to marry. We go to school, then at 3.30 we repeat the whole thing again.

It was all so simple then.

Prepping the eldest for the solo walk to high school I allowed the occasional bus journey to meet me on the high street. This was to encourage a bit of streetwise confidence and to stop me embedding a microchip in her neck whilst she slept. I needed to release the apron strings a millimetre or two and this seemed like the best way.

First few weeks of the new high school term I managed not to follow her down the road whilst she cycled or walked and all was good. Until the desperately sad news about the young teenager who was abducted on her way to school and endured an horrific attack before she was discovered knocking on residential doors four hours after her ordeal.

Stop the world I want to get off and I'm taking my daughters with me.

Yes miserable things happen every day but after hearing this news one school morning it took every ounce of strength not to knit an new umbilical cord and live life like this for ever more. 

Discussions about when do we let our children walk to school alone surface every year and having lived a pretty sheltered life I had aimed to nurture more confident kids on the street, not street corners mind or in the middle of shopping centres, just kids who have good street awareness.  But now I'm considering self defence classes and pointing out hazards along the school route yet will this stop me worrying or indeed reduce the dangers of the outside world. No, no, no.

I have heard parents on the radio saying how they wouldn't let their kids walk to school alone but then realising they are primary school parents, I'm thinking whether they will seriously maintain this attitude with their Year 10 son or daughter. The balking of a walking teenager may be placated by a drive-by parent drop but then are we creating a generation of lazy chauffered kids who will cower in a ditch come the first sign of trouble; unaware or unconfident of their options in a crisis.

So how do we protect and prepare our tween/teens for the outside world without frightening the socks of 'em?

Answers on a postcard please.