Is the School Responsible for Sick 7-Year-Old Who Walked Home Alone?
by Mary Fischer
A mom in Missouri is understandably freaking out a little bit after her 7-year-old daughter walked home from school after visiting the school nurse because she felt sick.
Supposedly the nurse told Emily Box to go and get her backpack because her father was coming to pick her up from school. Somehow the little girl misunderstood and wound up walking past the principal's office and straight out the front door. And then she managed to make the one-mile trek back to her home, where her father found her on the front porch.
Her mom Kristi explains, "On her walk home, she had to walk past a sex offender's house, over train tracks, past a creek and all with no sidewalks."
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The little girl, of course, was totally unfazed and saw the whole thing as an adventure. But of course, her parents are pretty pissed and are even contemplating moving her to another school.
Ugh. I can't even begin to imagine how panicked her parents must have been during the hour she was gone. I know I'd absolutely freak if my 7-year-old's whereabouts were unknown -- but I'm just not sure the school is to blame in this case.
Ok, so it's a little strange that Emily was able to walk out of the school without anyone noticing -- but it's not like the staff shoved her out the door and sent her on her merry way. The nurse supposedly gave her instructions and informed her that her dad would be there to pick her up. It really sounds like she either a) did not understand, or b) decided to take it upon herself to head home instead of waiting for her father's arrival. She's 7 -- not 5. Seven-year-olds are perfectly capable of listening to and following directions, so it is possible she just felt like taking a walk ... right?
And when the school did realize she was missing, they did the right thing by going into lockdown and conducting a thorough search for her. Had they been nonchalant about the whole deal, I can see where the parents are justified in complaining. But based on the turn of events that occurred -- it really does appear to be nothing but a big miscommunication.
Yes, we should expect schools to keep our kids safe and do everything possible to avoid "losing" them. But we also have to realize the people who work there are only human, and sometimes mistakes like this do happen. Maybe this incident will help this school tighten their policies a little more so another child doesn't wind up taking a hike in the future. But in the meantime, Emily's parents probably shouldn't be too concerned about sending their daughter back. Heck, she's probably safer than any other child in that school at this point. Do you really think they'd run the risk of letting her slip away again?
Do you think the school is at fault here?