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THIS Is Why My Kids Can't Walk to School

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Somer Thompson's death gives one mom a wake-up call.

florida girl somer thompson missing

Momlogic's Julie: Last month, the New York Times ran a piece called "Why Can't She Walk to School?"

I'd like to answer that question now. Why can't my kids walk to school? Somer Thompson is the reason why. There are just too many evil, crazy people out there, and her murder is proof of that.

115 children are kidnapped by strangers each year, according to federal statistics. There are 73.7 million children in the U.S. YES, I realize that the odds are slim that the worst could happen. But tell that to Diena Thompson, Somer's mom. The odds were just as slim for her, and it happened.

It happened. And now her child is dead.

The New York Times article said that only 13 percent of kids walk or bike to school these days because parents are so anxious that something awful could happen. I'm definitely one of those paranoid parents, and Somer's heartbreaking case only makes me more vigilant.

Yes, I know my kids are much more likely to get into a car wreck on the way to school than be abducted while walking home. I get it. But Somer didn't die in a car crash. She died after being abducted, while walking home from school. And, as a parent, that is something I believe you could never get over -- never in a million years.

The child killer who did this to Somer didn't just kill that little girl ... he killed her whole family. Her mother. Her twin brother. Her other siblings. Her wheelchair-bound dad. Those people who loved Somer most will never be the same. This animal on the loose took away their innocence and life as they know it. He took away their Somer -- snuffed out her bright young life and threw her in a landfill like yesterday's trash.

So when you ask me why I won't let my kids walk to school ... THIS is why. Somer is why.

Call me paranoid all you want. But letting my kids walk alone is just not a risk I'm willing to take.

next: Michigan Too Broke to Inspect School Buses, May Stop Service
84 comments so far | Post a comment now
Katey October 27, 2009, 6:32 AM

Do something for yourself and your child - walk her to school, then walk back. I did it before I would go to work and arranged my hours to accommodate my family as much as I could. My children and I still exercise (I’m 66)- one of the best things you can do for your children-teach them good habits early!

VanBurenMom October 27, 2009, 8:03 AM

Makes me glad I live in a town of less than 2000 people!!! My son takes the bus now but once he gets a bit older I will let him walk to school, but than again the school is only one street over.

Rosanne October 27, 2009, 11:19 AM

I agree with you 100%. I have four children age 30 down to 18 all male. I NEVER let them walk home from school until they were teenagers and big and smart enough to fight off an attacker and we lived in an affluent neighborhood. I worked too. We made arrangements and most kids are in car pools. True they can be in car accidents but can you imagine the terror that child endured being raped and killed by a stranger? I’ll take a chance with a car accident. I don’t think it’s the mothers fault her daughter walked to school. I think it is the terrible criminal justice system we have that lets so many sex offenders out and living among us. They should be locked away FOREVER.

xoxo November 11, 2009, 4:20 PM

dont cry 2 me when ur kids are fat & die from heart attacks

Donna November 16, 2009, 1:43 PM

We live in difficult times. I had the luxury of teaching during my children’s early years. I enrolled my children in the school where I worked. I drove them every day. I only allowed my own mother and my mother-in-law to babysit (rarely).
In spite of all these precautions, one of my sons died in a terrible accident at a school event where I was the supervisor in charge. He was six feet away from me.

We can’t do enough to protect our children. I truly believe that the only reason my parents were convinced the world was safer when I was young, was because media coverage,and public awareness of predators, etc. was so limited in the sixties and seventies.

My children are adults, now. I always know where they are and what they are doing.

I know that so many parents do not have the means to leave work to pick up their children, or the money to pay for extended care.

A possible solution is to arrange for your children to walk home in groups and to stay with another family until you can pick them up.

I was exceptionally careful and lost one of my babies. Why not take as many precautions as you can.

Emily December 17, 2009, 3:15 PM

Literally the only way to keep your child safe from abduction and/or molestation is to keep them in a locked room 24/7 and never let them have contact with another human being - not even family. It’s much more likely that your child will be molested by a teacher, babysitter, coach, priest, neighbor, or relative than a random stranger, yet no parents here are saying “I’ll never let my child meet her relatives!”

Besides, even if your child is in a carpool group or parents take turns walking groups of children to school or whatever, who’s to say that the other adults who are all taking turns supervising the children won’t kidnap or molest one of them? Anyone remember the story of the little girl who had been molested and killed by her best friend’s mother?

And Donna, do you really think you always know where your adult children are and what they’re doing? If you insist on having them give you those details, I can almost guarantee they’ve lied to you from time to time, unless they do actually say things like “Yeah, so at 10:30 I’m going to go over to this party and get drunk cause it’s only three weeks until my 21st birthday anyways…” Basically, they’re adults, they have the right to live their lives as they see fit, and they’ll never learn responsibility or good decision-making skills if you’re always in the background.

Rhonda January 22, 2010, 7:58 PM

A child at that young age should not be left unsupervised what so ever! In my state, it is against the law to leave your children home alone under the age of 12, and if a child is left home alone it is considered neglect. So if I leave my child home alone that is considered neglect, but if I send my young child out into this messed up world alone…thats okay?! This is so mind boggling to me! A child at the age of 7 does not have the mental capability on how to handle a life or death situation!

Anonymous March 30, 2010, 7:34 PM

free range parenting = free range chickens?

Anon E. Mouse May 11, 2010, 11:36 AM

I suppose all you overprotective moms don’t let your kids play outside with the other kids on the block after school either! You’re not doing your little darlings any favors by chauffeuring them around every day. My daughter is seven years old, nearing the end of second grade. We live about a 20-minute walk or 10-minute bike ride from her school. She recently started biking to and from school, except when it’s raining. I ride with her in the morning (used to walk with her) and last month she started riding back by herself. It kills three birds with one stone: she gets some exercise, she becomes more confident and independent, and I don’t have to take 40 minutes off in the middle of the afternoon, I just meet her at the end of our block.

I recently talked to a friend of ours from Texas - their daughter the same age as ours has activities just about every day: tennis, Kumon, all kinds of crap - which she is of course driven to. But she’s almost eight years old and doesn’t know how to ride a bike!

This kind of mindset is one reason why I left the California suburbs to move back to a small town in Canada - a much better environment for a kid to grow up in.

Katy May 20, 2010, 4:41 PM

those of you being critical of Elizabeth are only being critical because deep down you are questioning yourself and your choice to allow your child/children be unsupervised while going to and from the bus stop. In the state of Virginia it is against the law for ANY child under the age of 9 to be unaccompanied by an adult at ANYTIME indoors or out. There are laws for a reason people. If your child became a statistic you sure would not be singing the same critical tune!

Tracy May 20, 2010, 9:14 PM

I saw the same article! I was really upset! They are nuts! My son and his friend was hit by a car while walking to school and that has changed my mind! We live 2 blocks away! People just do not care! Thank you for sharing. I am so sad about the Somer girl. :(

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