Children and Young Adults
October 3, 2023
Crime Prevention
Is your child ready to travel to school without you?

Is your child ready to travel to school without you?

Before your child starts to walk or ride to school by themselves, it’s important to build their safety skills and confidence, and get to know your local area and its potential dangers, together.

Much of parenting young children is about preparing and celebrating for milestones. Our job as parents is to balance encouraging our children to be self-reliant, to embrace the development, while still protecting them.

One major milestone is when your child can travel to and from school without you. Although your child might think they’re big enough to go to school by themselves, it can be a real worry for you as their parent to know if they’re truly ready. 

How can you: 

  • assess whether your child is ready?
  • encourage them to be out in the community while making them aware of potential dangers?
  • react and respond to them, while not scaring them?
  • make sure your child knows what to do if they feel unsafe?

Travelling alone within in your neighbourhood is a critical step toward a child’s emerging independence – whether that be to school, a friend’s house, or the playground, by bike, scooter or walking. But children first need the skills and knowledge to stay safe before they take that step.

Travelling Safely e-learning journey

Neighbourhood Watch Victoria’s Travelling Safely platform is an interactive learning journey that parents and kids can do together to help prepare children for safe, independent travel around their neighbourhood. It’s part of our Neighbourhood Watch 4 Kids program.

The e-learning platform provides important information in an accessible way and is full of fun activities – including quizzes, videos, virtual neighbourhoods and drawing – that parents and kids can do together or separately. It aims to:

  • helps parents evaluate if their child is ready to travel within their neighbourhood by themselves. 
  • helps kids improve their safety knowledge, increase their confidence and empower them to trust their instincts and react appropriately to unsafe situations.

And the best part is, you can stop and come back at any time. 

Head to Travelling Safely and work together with your child to prepare you both for this huge milestone.

Preparing your kids for independent travel

Here are 6 things you can do to help prepare your child for travelling around your local neighbourhood without an adult.

1. Take the route together

You and your child should set an agreed route to and from school to take every day and go with them on a test run. Familiarise your child with dangers they may encounter on the route, like reversing cars, barking dogs, strangers, roundabouts, motorbikes and road crossings by using the Neighbourhood Watch 4 Kids virtual neighbourhood tool.

2. Understand your child's physical reaction to fear.

Fear triggers physical changes, like butterflies in the stomach, sweaty palms or wobbly legs known as “early warning signs”. Each child’s reaction to feeling unsafe is different so ask your child what they physically feel when they’re scared and recognise that feeling.

3. Create a personal network.

Draw up a list of five trusted adults and their contact details. These are people a child regards as safe and who they can talk to about anything. It’s good to show a child safe places in the neighbourhood, like a library or police station, if they feel unsafe.

4. Teach your child the 3 "R"s of unsafe situations.

Teach your child to recognise and trust their early warning signs. Then, if someone makes them feel unsafe, they should react by using key words like “stop”, “leave me alone” or “no”, and get away from that person. Once the child is out of danger, they should report what happened to a trusted adult in their personal network or a police officer.

5. Ensure they carry personal details.

It’s important a child knows their home address, school, contact details for their parent or carer and contacts for emergency services and carries these details in a safe place, like a school bag.

6. Play games to teach them how to react in different scenarios.

Spend time playing games to test how your child reacts in a series of situations such as being approached by a stranger, getting lost or falling off a bike and injuring themselves. Then teach them what to do.

Get Police Assistance

For all emergencies and immediate Police assistance
Call: 000
To report non-urgent crimes or events 24 hours a day
Call: 131 444
To report information about a crime contact Crime Stoppers on
1800 333 000

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Neighbourhood Watch Victoria acknowledges the 38 mobs, the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we operate, live, and gather as employees and volunteers. We recognise their continuing connection to land, water and community and pay respect to Elders past, present and emerging.

At Neighbourhood Watch, we believe everyone has the right to feel safe and welcome. We are committed to ensuring diversity, inclusion and equity are embedded throughout our organisation – in the work we do, the services we deliver and among our staff, volunteers, and the communities we work with.