Is eight too young for a child to go to the park alone?

How young is too young for a child to go to the park alone? [Photo: Getty]
How young is too young for a child to go to the park alone? [Photo: Getty]

A mum has sparked a parenting debate about how young is too young for a child to go to the park on their own?

Taking to parenting site Mumsnet, the mum explained that she’d just returned from a trip to the park where her son started playing with a boy on his own.

“I decided to take my son to the park for a quick run around before bed,” she wrote.

“Shortly after getting to the play park a boy cycles up to us and starts playing with my son. I looked around for his mum but couldn't see anyone. Waited another 5 minutes and still no-one. At this point I decided to get my son to ask him some questions...”

The woman went on to say that her son found out that the boy was eight years old and in Year 3 at a local school.

”I enquired if his mum was there and he said no, she is at home,” she continued.

After discovering the youngest lived a street away from them, the mum left with her son and encouraged the boy to ride home too.

“He proceeded to cycle in the middle of the road!” she continues. “My immediate thought was road safety so I said we should all cycle on the path. I then watched him cycle and go back to his house safely.”

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Though the woman explained that they live just minutes from the path so it is very local and safe, she was concerned that the boy had no qualms about talking to her or her son.

”I could've been a predator or pedofile [sic]. He also was cycling in the middle of the road, which of course could lead to him being injured or hit by a car!”

The mum finished her post by asking the forum whether it was appropriate to allow an 8-year-old boy to play at and then cycle home from the park alone, particularly as it was 6.30pm in the evening.

She also wondered whether she should report it to the school the boy attends.

And other parents were quick to wade into the tricky topic.

Some parents couldn’t see a problem with children so young being in the park alone.

”I teach eight year olds. Loads of them play out at the park by themselves. It’s light in the evenings now so I don’t see the harm,” one woman wrote.

“My 8 year old goes to the park alone,” another agreed. “YAB [you are being] ridiculous to consider reporting a child being allowed to a park 5 minutes from his home.”

“My DD was playing at the park on her own at 8,” another mum agreed. “I can literally see the park from my window, but even if it was a bit further away I would have let her go with a friend at that age.

“She's 9 now and is often out playing with her little gang of mates, they don't all need constant supervision, it's a judgement call that parents make about their own children.”

Other parents pointed out that children today are wrapped in cotton wool these days. “He's eight, it's broad daylight,” one parent wrote.

A mum has sparked a debate about the topic after spotting an 8-year-old on their own in the park [Photo: Getty]
A mum has sparked a debate about the topic after spotting an 8-year-old on their own in the park [Photo: Getty]

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But some did think that eight was too young to be allowed out alone.

“I have an 8-year-old DS and I'd never allow him to go to the park on his own,” one parent wrote. “I help out in his class once a week too and it's not just him - it's the whole class who are too young and clueless to be out alone.”

“An 8-year-old was abducted from a park local to me last week,” one user warned.

“He was found with a stranger who tried to go in the bushes with him and was spotted by passers by.

“I have an 8 year old and wouldn’t let her play anywhere where she’s out of my vision,” the same user continued.

“Not about wrapping them up and keeping them in a bubble. It’s simply just not as safe as we would like it to be. I personally think my 8-year-old is too young but I guess everyone is different.”

Other parents thought it depended on the individual child and how mature they were.

“Some are very trustworthy but don't like being left alone,” one mum wrote. “So it's hard to put a precise age on when children should go to the park/corner shop/home alone.”

Parents have been debating a number of topics online recently. Last week, a mum went online to ask how much is too much to contribute to a teacher present?

Last month mums and dads were divided over whether primary school children should be given homework.

And back in May a stay-at-home mum sparked a furore after asking if it is reasonable to expect her husband to pay her a £2,700 monthly "salary”.