Japan’s independent kids

Japan’s independent kids

The Ando family are not unique. You see, Japanese families encourage their children to travel to and from school alone every single day. By Western standards, Japanese culture emphasises independence and self-reliance from an extraodinarily young age. In fact, one of Japan’s most loved and longest running TV shows, is called My First Errand, In which young children are given neighbourhood tasks, and secretly filmed as they set about them alone, sometimes even with a younger sibling in tow. My First Errand is appealing because all Japanese people had that experience of having their parents entrust them to do some simple job where they leave the house on their own and they come back to the house on their own. And it’s funny. Jake Adelstein was the first Westerner to work a crime beat in Japan. giving him an insight into Japanese crime and justice no other Westerner has. He, like many foreigners, noticed something different about Japan. As I was walking to the station i would see these young kids coming from the station with their little backpacks on, walking towards the school, thiking, where are the adults? Like, who is making sure these kids cross the road and get to school okay? Even my own daughter, when she was about four or five, and she said, I’m going to walk there myself. And she left, and I put down the phone and chased after her, and she ran all the way to school, and of course nothing happened to her. And I was like, you know? Maybe in Japan that’s how it works. It’s Monday morning on Sydney’s affluent North Shore, where the Frasier family are starting the day. My name is Rob Fraser, I’m 47 years of age, there’s three of us in the family. There’s myself, there’s Jane, and Emily, who is 10. There’s an apple in your bag Em. Please don’t leave the apple in your bag all week. Am i turning lights off again? Yes, you are. All right. Tennis raquet is in the car? No, not yet. Wow. Um… it’s cool. i had a conversation with her the other day about what would she like to do, would she like
to get the bus to school, would she like to go on her own. She made it very clear that she would like to do that. One thing I’m most looking forward to in high school is walking home from school by myself, And having a key and everything. Give me a kiss? I’ll see you later. In fact, studies show kids want to walk to school. It’s their parents that won’t or can’t. The evidence is irrefutable – that children are not safe to cross roads on their own until they’re ten. That’s why we’re so nervous about children being allowed to walk on their own to school, though they might be on the footpath the whole way. But it should be safe. You see, Emily’s School, Middle Harbour Public, was the first to trial a 40 km p/h school zone in Australia. It’s also a cultural reason. If you look at the way Australians behave when they reach a school zone, I mean, a lot of people have one thing on their minds, and that’s themselves. They don’t care less about anyone else. Group socialisation is huge in Japan. Having parents pick up and drop off their kids would be bad for Japan incorporated, and that’s one of the reasons you probably don’t see it. It’s also one of the other reasons that Japan and Japanese society is set up to make it safe for kids to commute to school, because if parents have to be responsible for that commute, they’re going to have to reorganise the entire workforce and the way companies work. Japan, of course, has an exceptionally low crime rate. They have more than five times our population but less than four times the homocides we have. I’ve covered very few cases of children being abducted. Maybe one child death in the 12 years I was a reporter. That’s the only one I encountered. But to say kids go alone to school because of a low crime rate would miss more subtle and underlying forces. Our society suffers from a paranoia about leaving children on their own. I think some of it is probably ill-perceived. But a lot of it is understood. I don’t believe there’s any more dangers now, other than traffic, than there were 30, 40 years ago. I think the fact that it’s more in the public eye, it’s in the press all the time, I think also with the social pressure element of letting go and letting them go and do things at such a young age, I think is actually quite difficult to take on. Kawaii ko literally means cute kid, and tabi o saseyo means put them on a trip, so the meaning is, if you love your kids, or you want your kids to be smarter, send them to do something, send them on a trip. Kids are less independent nowdays. it’s just the way it is. You have got me thinking about it. You’ve got me thinking that maybe I’m being a little bit paranoid.

53 thoughts on “Japan’s independent kids

  1. I think it depends on the time frame here in America. When I was in elementary school (abt 11 years ago), I would get myself up, eat breakfast, get dressed, and walk to the neighborhood school bus stop by myself. Things have changed, though. I wouldn't be allowed to do it by myself now.

  2. Honeslty thats normal here in NYC anyways cant speak for all of state but in NYC , walking to school by yourself is normal. I walked to school and back in 4th grade. Then for middle and high school, I had to take the subway and bus, which isnt such a big deal.

  3. Japan is more safe for kids because their culture values respect …where as Australia we dont value respect for others we are a Selfish people who speed past school zones i cant tell you how many kids have died from hit amd runs in Australia in the last 12 years i know of 4 in my area alone in less than 10 years.

  4. I live less than a kilometer away from my primary school…..and my parents wont even allow me to go on my own……

  5. I was thinking about kidnapped. There must be low kidnapped crime cases in Japan right?. How peaceful.

  6. Fuck, my mom didn't let me go out alone until grade 7. Now she's even more strict after a child was killed in my province

  7. were I live, children start going to school by themselves at the age of six. They don't have to take the train though, they just walk 20 mins at most.

  8. When i visit Japan, its such a common scene to see grade schooler kids took train on their own, its so impressive because of the elaborate and complicated train line they got there.

  9. This made me a little less nervous to take the subway everyday for school. Of course New York is different than Japan. I'm used to going to and from school by myself, but I only lived two blocks away. Now it's gonna be ten city blocks.

  10. When I was a Child, I went to my school by my own every single day and prepare all my things too (I think my mother has a lot of japanese mother thougths lol) but it was so good for because that gave me the independence that I appreciate right now, being an helicopter parent it isn't correct

  11. It migth be safe to go to school by it self in Japan.
    But I think you should take your childern to school if its far away

  12. It is nice to be independent like them but in here in philippines we couldn't since there are lot of dangers just like rapists while in japan there are just a few

  13. Because Tokyo is like the most safe city in the world. When I was there, tho I was careless to keep my bag zipped or left my luggage on the train, I can get em back. I'm not losing anything when I got back to my apartment.

  14. I'm American. I remember very clearly at 5 years old asking (borderline demanding) to walk to my school myself. (it was about 2 blocks away) and my mother would not allow it. I asked again at 6 when I moved up a grade so I imagine other little kids have to same drive and desire to do this. This looks amazing

  15. That awkward moment when you're an Indian teen and you do all this shit every day, but no one calls you 'independent'.

  16. I'm from Australia and my neighborhood was quite safe. Parents pushed me to be a little more independent. Walking to school at the age of 7 and I enjoyed it a lot! Usually walked with my classmate who is only a street away from me and I would purposely leave early for school just to grab freshly baked bacon and egg bread rolls for $1.80 and have the spare 20c to buy 2 snake sourheads (back when canteen treats weren't ridiculously expensive) for lunch. This got me skipping down memory lane haha! I enjoyed my childhood a lot due to learning things on my own rather than just being feed how to do things. You think better and become more efficient with time and speed 🙂

  17. i always wanted to take the bus, but because my parents owned a gas station down the street i was dropped off. i didn't take the bus until high school. I'm not sure if i would let my kid go to school by themselves at 7, but at 10 i would let them.

  18. I think US-Americans are some… I don't know… in Germany many kids go to bus and school on their own bevor they become 8 or 9 years old… and it works greate…

  19. They must not have many child predators/ serial killers over there. Feels like we spawn them like Pokemon go over here in the U.S.. Could just be fear of the few instances, but having it happen every few towns is a terrifying thing for most parents. I cannot let my children go by themselves until they are big/ heavy enough to fight and know what to do. Crossing roads fine, it's the kidnappers I can't forget. And what they do when they get your kids, how few times they are found and how it's usually just bodies that are found when they are found at all. What they go through before they become bodies. And when they didn't become bodies outs often almost as bad our worse, treats and years of sexual abuse and slavery etc. Human trafficking.
    Yes it could be ill conceived but I'm too terrified to take the chance.
    Do you know how many people have pictures of missing children on their mantle 20-50 years later? Those people can't ever be right, ever move on. We are the domestic terrorist capital of the world, we spawn more private under the radar sociopaths than anyone. Serial killers never caught. I don't know why. But I can't forget it and let my child walk around willy nilly even if I know the statistics are that it won't be my child next. I can't LET it be. Yes it's probably paranoia but I can't help it.

  20. In my little village in Indonesia is possible to walk your kids all alone to their school, even if it is their first 3th grade as they walk by with their school mates, and its safe. Because the terrific isn't that busy and people mostly walk around not using car or bicycle. OMG I missed my childhood

  21. In other parts of the world, traveling alone like that, that kid would have been chopped up right after being raped, and then thrown in the woods, or her body parts buried and hid inside the wall of some house. Real life.

  22. by MODERN Western standards. when I was I kid I always walked miles alone. And my mother was alone younger and my grandfather's even younger.

  23. In america, if this happened there's like a 95 percent chance your child will be abducted and abused. To know there is a country that can allow small children to venture out without your child coming up missing is something I've only dreamed of.

  24. I guess people in the US are to crazy to trust! I couldn't imagine send a 7 year old child to travel to school by their self ☹️

  25. Dique "highschool walking by myself " girl I'm just starting high school and my mom waits for me right their in the parking lot it's so embarrassing . All my family members thinks my mom treats me like a baby even though I'm turning 15😕

  26. That guy is Australian I can tell by his accent. Like if your Australian. and it said NSW on his car numberplate which is an Aussie state

  27. So your saying Japan doesn't have child predators like in other countries? I would never let my little girl or boy out alone. Not because they can't do because they can't protect themselves!!!!!

  28. Some may call this bad parenting, but I wish I was as independent as Japanese kids are when I was younger. Hell, I was afraid to walk into a classroom that wasn't my homeroom even though I knew it was ok.

  29. That just shows how safe and orderly Japan is. Not many developed countries can be that, let along developing countries.

  30. Well, few things… First most Asian cities are walking city where cars are not needed where as in the west, cars are a must. Also, especially in Japan, this is why they generally do not have empathy. If you bring up problems u are having, most likely others would say try harder 'gam bare!'

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