Worries, ‘weirdos’, neighborhoods and knowing people: a qualitative study with children and parents regarding children's independent mobility

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Abstract

This qualitative study involved focus groups with 132 children and 12 parents in primary and secondary schools in metropolitan and regional areas of Victoria, Australia, to explore experiences and perceptions of children's independent mobility. The study highlights the impact of family routines, neighborhood characteristics, social norms and reference points for decision making. Children reported a wider range of safety concerns than parents, including harm from strangers or traffic, bullying, or getting lost. Children expressed great delight in being independent, often seeking to actively influence parents’ decision making. Children's independent mobility is a developmental process, requiring graduated steps and skill building.

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