6 year old taking a train alone in Japan


I saw a couple of children who were on the train on their own separate occasions in Japan. This is fairly common back home, but after having lived in the U.S. for over ten years, I found myself staring at their children, worrying and wondering where their parents are!

This is quite common in Japan. Japan is fairly a safe country, but even then, I wouldn’t want my child commuting to school by train..and alone? No way. Are you kidding me? My child could be kidnapped by a stranger!

The  recent drastic increase in gun related crimes (at least these cases are everywhere)in the U.S. is alarming. American parents are extra careful and letting 6 year-old walking to school, staying in a car..these things can get parents into serious trouble in the U.S.

I am sure that things have changed in Japan, but I doubt that Japanese laws are nearly as strict on children protection as they are in the U.S. Japanese parents are less concerned, Japanese stations are usually safe so some parents may as well have their children commute to school by walking and train to foster independence at a young age.

But again, I wouldn’t want my child taking the train alone..if he is 6 years old, he cannot be unattended! But when I look back and remember how we walked to elementary school in a group, I remember how trusting my friends’ parents were and especially I grew up in the countryside so things were much more laid back.

The school didn’t let us walk alone so we always had a group of five kids (under 11 year-old) walking to elementary school together. I lived really close to my elementary school..it took no more than 10 minutes to get to school each way. But I didn’t understand how these parents who have their kids walk 45 minutes on their own to go to school and again return to home without any parental supervision.

I just didn’t understand. I used to take that for granted but when I go back to Japan, a young child being alone just catches my attention..immediately I am on a social worker mode..where is the negligent mother who is letting her child unattended! But I have to remind myself that America and Japan are totally different cultures.

But I was a little stunned when I read this article, stating that “parents are encouraged to let their kids go to school alone. In fact, it’s mandated at Sato’s school.” (www.cbsnews.com)

Mandated? I have a problem with this requirement! I don’t know, but maybe this works just because these children live in Japan! What are the odds of getting kidnapped or getting involved with crimes? But we cannot be too careful and I believe that parents should always take precautions over their children.

I see lots of kids in my neighborhood here in Southern California. I rarely see kids walking to school by themselves. Maybe in the afternoon, I see teenagers walking home in a group but for elementary school and even junior high, helicopter parents are there to pick up their children and their friends’ children by car. Why? Because it is not safe for small children to walk around the neighborhood, even just to walk home, the child can run into a criminal with a gun. Who knows?

Some Japanese children take the subway alone and it can take up to an hour, covering several miles to go to school. Probably most Japanese parents are not comfortable with the idea of letting their precious children commute to school alone. No way!

Maybe my mentality has changed due to the completely different environment in which I have lived for over last ten years. I will be very upset with school if they mandate my child to take the train so go to school on his own..and it takes 1 hour! Even 30 minutes, I would say no. Maybe when he/she turns 15 years old, I would approve. I think it is the parents’ responsibility to ensure children’s safety! There are pedophiles and creeps everywhere even in supposedly one of the safest societies in the world!

Why would you want to make your child go through that? Hopefully nothing happens and he would learn to be more confident and independent, so it is a win-win situation..but what if something happens? Can you handle if something happens to your child who is going to school alone for like 30 minutes!

I don’t want to be opinionated but this is my opinion on this. This is why some Japanese couples got into trouble in the U.S. while traveling because of their child endangerment and negligence. They left their kids in a car for like an hour. Of course they came back to realize that the police was waiting to arrest the parents. 🙁

 

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