Experts, Parents Differ on Age Children Should Walk Alone - NBC New York

Experts, Parents Differ on Age Children Should Walk Alone



    It was not the ending the city was hoping for. Police say 8 year-old Leiby Kletzky was murdered by a man that just happened upon the boy as he walked home from day camp. Jonathan Dienst has the story. (Published Wednesday, July 20, 2011)

    The brutal slaying of a Brooklyn boy this week has left many parents asking how young is too young to let your child walk home alone. 

    Leiby Kletzky was just short of nine years old and wanted to be a big boy and walk home from his day camp by himself. He lost his way and lost his life after turning to a stranger for help, authorities said. 

    According to child experts, there is no magic age when it is safe to allow your child to walk alone.

    "You have to know your own child," said Bernie Kessler, owner and executive director of Oasis, one of the largest day camp operations in the Tri-State.

    Children should be at least 12 years old, according to Wendy Levey, owner and executive director of 74th Street Magic Day Camp.

    "They get lost too much younger than that," she said.

    Both camp directors said shorter distances are better, and it's ideal if children are familiar with the neighborhood.

    Keeping Your Children Safe

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    They advised parents to rehearse the walk with the child or ask them to stay on a cellphone with them while making their first walk.

    As for asking for help from a stranger and then going off with one, "it's something you have to talk about over and over," said Levey.

    "We tell our kids, if they get lost in the park or on the street, look for a Mommy with kids," she added.

    NBC New York met Laura Munize walking with her daughter in John Jay Park. So when would she let her daughter walk alone?

    "I don't want to put an age on it, maybe 10 or 12," she said, adding she didn't think there was a single age for every youngster.

    "As young as 9, depending on the child," said Gina Rotundo, who was getting ice cream with her two daughters.  She also said she didn't think parents should be frightened by bad news they hear.