At what age?: Giving kids more independence - KULR8.com | News, Weather & Sports in Billings, Montana

At what age?: Giving kids more independence

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BILLINGS, Mont. -

The saying is: it takes a village to raise a child. But times have changed, now, some families don't know their neighbors. And news can be accessed instantly so experts say as humans, we  focus more on the bad, rather than the good.

That emphasis causes parents to be hesitant about letting their kids out to play without supervision. KULR-8's Tanya Modersitzki explored the topic to find out what's an appropriate age to start giving children independence in these times.

When I was his age, my parents wouldn't second guess allowing me to go outside. Because we knew all of my neighbors and the kids were out playing. But today, I don't know many of my neighbors. In many places we've lost that sense of, villages raising kids.

When it comes to being a responsible adult, I wanted to find out at what age, would I not have to think so hard about letting my son go out and play or do other independent activities.

"The answer is, when they're mature enough," Social Worker Nancy Thorson said.

"I still think that at the end of the day that it does take a village to raise a child," Billings Police Chief Rich St. John said.

Sure, that sounds good. Legally, Billings Police Chief Rich St. John says there's no law regarding ages for your child to be left alone or to walk home on their own. It's a matter of getting your child to that maturity level.

"It's basically left up to the parents to determine the maturity whether or not the child can be safe if the child can follow instructions, their cognitive skills, their ability to reason," St. John said.

He says if they're called to a situation where the child seems too young or the situation seems dangerous, there's statues to cover that. Social Worker, Nancy Thorson says having no laws in place is a good thing.

"Because then the parents gets to make decisions based on their particular child. Does your child pay attention? Does she know how to cross the streets safely? If she is aware of her surroundings? Does she know your phone number? Does she know 911? can she take care of things if there's a situation that comes up that requires her to respond?," Thorson said.

Thorson, who's also a mom of two, says with the news -- we see one tragic thing happen to a child and think, "that's going to be my kid." She says the possibility of that happening is smaller than you may think.

"If I'm going out to the grocery store, they get to stay home alone at 11 and 8. We call it free ranging. They know how to reach me if they need me, they know to go to the neighbors if the house starts on fire, but again the statistical possibility of that happening is very, very, very small,"  Thorson said.

Then there are some parents who feel constantly judged for having their kids be more independent.

"I want to change that," Larissa Kern said.

Kern, is a single mom of three. Her kids were the only ones outside in this neighborhood, enjoying a nice fall day.

  "I feel like in some ways it's scary to send your kids outside especially when you live in town, or wherever that you're not able to be there every second of them and sometimes I feel like people are too busy to teach their kids how to handle that type of freedom," Kern said.

Kern's kids range from ten, eight and four.. and are highly independent. She's taught them to figure out, what is safe and who is safe.

"I set them up to be successful, like the truth is they are powerful and one day they are going to have that type of freedom so I feel like parents should be involved as much as they can in the independent process," she said.

Unlike me, Kern knows her neighbors . And this block's kids are out enjoying childhood. She says villages raising kids makes things..

"So much easier," she added.

Billings Police Chief Rich St. John says the statue in place is called,  endangering welfare of children. If something happens and your child is less than the age of 18 -- you can be charged.

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