Parents should 'loosen the reins' and give children more freedom
IRISH children don't enjoy the same level of independence and mobility that their parents did.
Research carried out at Mary Immaculate College in Limerick as part of an international study shows parents' biggest fear in letting children walk or cycle to school is the perceived danger of the roads.
However, children cite fear of dogs and being abducted (mostly girls) as the top reasons for not making their own way to class.
The teacher-training college was one of 16 third-level institutions to take part in the study, coordinated by the University of Westminster's Policy Studies Institute.
Its report, Children's Independent Mobility on the island of Ireland by Dr Brendan O'Keeffe and Alanna O'Beirne, will be launched today by Education Minister Jan O'Sullivan.
Ireland is ranked 12th of the 16 participating countries, with Finland emerging as the country with the highest levels of children's independent mobility.
Ms O'Beirne said the study looked at 25 schools north and south of the border and surveyed 2,228 children aged seven to 15 and 1,700 parents.
Three out of five parents said they made their own way to school when they were young whereas now three out of five children are driven.
The findings point to a need to reaffirm an approach that puts the child at the centre of decision-making and to have a meaningful say in shaping the environments in which they live, study, play and move about.
"Parents can loosen the reins and give children more independence and mobility. Parents should be role models and cycle with their children or walk to school," Ms O'Beirne said.