Council Threatens Parents With Legal Action - Because Seven-Year-Old Walks On Her Own To The Bus Stop

14/09/2010 12:55 | Updated 22 May 2015

It's a 45 yard walk from Isabelle McCullough's front door to the school bus stop. Her parents were confident she could handle the short walk through their village. The local council disagreed - and threatened to refer them to social services.

Mark MCullough and his partner Natasha Fegan received a letter telling them that the matter was a 'child protection issue'. It threatened legal action if they continued to let seven-year-old Isabelle walk to and from the bus stop in the village of Glenham, Lincolnshire.

The matter was brought to the council's attention because Isabelle has to cross a 30mph road on her own. A school bus driver raised the alarm because he felt 'obliged' to stop the bus and escort Isabelle across the road, leaving his vehicle unattended with other children on board.

Dad Mark has said:'Lincolnshire County Council say it is a busy road, but that is ridiculous. It's just a country lane.

'I am happy for Isabelle just to look both ways and see if there is any traffic coming before she crosses. She is always sensible enough to do that.

'We need to teach kids to survive on their own because it's a big world out there and they need to be able to look after themselves.'

Debbie Barnes, Lincolnshire's assistant director of children's services, said the authority had a duty to react 'where the safety of a child or adult is compromised'. She said: 'NSPCC guidance states that children under eight should not be out alone; in this instance, the young girl has been standing unaccompanied on a roadside and left to cross the road by herself.'

But a spokesman for the NSPCC said that while 'in most situations' children under eight should be accompanied, 'individual circumstances vary' and it was up to parents to decide.

A spokesman later issued a fresh statement admitting that the letter 'could have been drafted better' and softening the council's stance.

He said officials would not 'go down the child protection route' or take court action.

What do you think?

Should parents be allowed to decide what age a child can handle different situations, like road safety, or should the council intervene?

Do you let your children walk home alone and at what age?

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