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My daughter is 10 years old and in fifth grade. Lately she has been begging me to go to the mall by herself, without a parent. She is a very responsible child but I don't feel comfortable letting her go by herself. I am not sure if she wants to go because her 14 year old sister goes by herself or if it's because she wants some space and feels ready to go places without me.

I let her walk around a small store by herself last year, after about five minutes she came running up to me in tears saying that she never wanted to go anywhere without me again. I am afraid that if I let her go to the mall by herself she will get scared and want to come home, but I won't be there.

What should I do?? No. You should watch your kids. Just ask a police officer. Another option would be to be in the same mall, but let her (or her and a friend) go shopping by themselves and meet up at a specific time in a specific place. If you have more than one cellphone in your household, take one yourself and give the other one to her. You could even have her go into a specific store that she wants to go in, while you browse the outside racks of the store opposite.

Do you live in an area where it is feasible and safe for her to, say, go to the corner store by herself? Does she walk to school? Does she get any time when she's not under immediate adult supervision? If yes and she handles all this okay, she may be able to handle a short time at the mall without direct supervision. If not, maybe you both need to work on getting comfortable with her having some unsupervised time first. I myself was allowed to go but only because I had an older friend with me. It is a good idea to give him change for a pay phone or let him use a family cell phone. Go to the mall with him but let him have a small taste of freedom with a friend. You can do your own shopping for 30 minutes to an hour while they have fun. Then treat them to lunch or take them to see a movie. Make sure your child knows to avoid anyone they do not know and to stay with their friend at ALL times and call if anything suspicious or scary happens. My opinion would have to be NO...unfortunately this is a crazy world we live in. It may seem unfair but it is better to be safe than sorry. No. Children do not need to be dropped off or left by themselves in public places these days. Many people are very mean and violent in this world. The days of leaving young people unattended are long gone. Please monitor your children well...they may be upset with you for now, but one day they will understand why you were protective of them. No! Can you imagine what could happen? She would be an easy target for someone to rob. A small child with a disposable income. And think about how many screaming children are in the if someone takes her, and she starts screaming, no one is going to think twice and you will be the parent on the five o' clock news that has to say "I wasn't watching and now my kid is gone" Many shops (mine included) do not let children in unsupervised. A lone child causes a burden on all security and shopkeepers. No one is there is they get hurt or break something and we end up liable and babysitting. I'm 12 going on 13 and me and my friends have cellphones.We go shopping by ourslefs all the time. it's so fun and there a security guards all around us so it doesnt matter.If some one tries to grab your kid, its gonna be obvious DONT BE SOO OVERPROTECTIVE I wouldn't let a 10 year old go wait till she is 12 and know more about fashoin and money and don't let her go byherself ..make her go with friends a 4 group or 3.tell her to take a cell phone and make sure she has a ride home and to the mall.If anyone tries to grab me i go for the wee wee!

12 and 13 are different from 10. 10 is just not old enough. Yes she is old enough to be home alone for short times, yes she is old enough not to eat poisonous things, fall off balconies, get lost in the mall, use a phone etc. But she is not old enough to keep her head in an emergency. What if she loses her friends and can't find them? What if someone offers to buy her things? What if she is overcome by peer pressure and temptation and shoplifts something? It is not worth it. Let her spend some time at a childrens museum, ice rink or other child friendly place alone first.

Also, I worked in retail for years and I want to add. Kids love the mall. The mall does not love kids. Kids are a hassle, they steal, they get merchandise dirty, they make a mess, they are noisy, they run and generally they keep shoppers away. Kids have no money to spend and they chase away business. I know nobody wants to hear their little ones spoken of this way but most stores resent the fact that a lot of parents use the mall as a kid depository. Those clerks get paid around $6.50 and hour + comission and every customer that doesn't want to shop in a store full of unaccompanied kids is money out of their pocket. It is a place of commerce and business, not a day care. She rightfully resents the money she loses and the extra work. Find somewhere else for kids to hang out. Or make your home more teen friendly. Please.

I worked in retail for many years to and I think a 10 year old with a friend would be fine. They are no worse then the parents who bring toddlers into stores or the teenagers that leave $400 dresses on the floor in the change rooms and the parents say to just leave them! There are endless Horror stories and the majority of mine are not from kids even when I worked in a children's clothing store.

Is she mature? I think that is the main deciding factor. As a trial bring her and a friend let them loose with a set time of when to be back and have lunch and a cup of tea just relax and take it from there.

I think this question is misleading. You are asking if your child is OLD enough to do something. You should rather be asking whether he/she is MATURE enough, and that is something only you can answer. :

To the 12 year old that answered. You are very bright but like my daughter lack the experience to fully see the situation. For example, you imply the security guard makes it safe. My dear, the security guard is paid very little, very few people want the job, and as a result that security guard is just as dangerous as anyone there. HE or SHE could be your abductor. Do you really think they check? His manager doesn't get paid much either and probably doesn't want to be there. How hard do you think he tries to screen people when he just needs to cover a Sunday.

No, the person who said this world is just not safe enough for you to be alone is right. We want you to have new experiences and explore your world safely as you get to know it. But you can and should do that with your parent present until you are older. Go look at all the milk cartons with faces just like yours. The reality is, you are just right size and just young enough to make the perfect target. If you were younger, your parents wouldn't let you out of their sight, you are I am afraid just old enough to be a victim. Like someone else said, ask a cop. I bet what they tell you is true and it scares you to death.

To my fellow parents, yes let's let them explore the boundaries of their world, but we MUST still define them and BE the safety net. When we leave them alone at the mall we leave them there alone with people who know this is done and are just waiting for their chance. Yes, the majority there would die trying to protect your child and are decent people. But you know they are out there and it only takes one....and tell me when was the last time YOU noticed how close you were to a door that was two seconds from outdoors and perhaps a waiting car? You aren't watching that close, why would a stranger? Would they even hear her scream? Would they look if it took a split second? If the car was gone with your baby? Be aware people. Predators do not kill the entire flock and so it doesn't feel like a danger for all, but they wait for the vulnerable and the easy opportunity. Please don't give them one with YOUR child.

A bit more:

By law, a child cannot be left home alone if they are under 12 years old. So why would any one think it would be safe or ok to let a 10 year old go to a mall by themselves? Most parents say, "But my child is so mature for their age", (I've never met a parent that didn't feel their child was "so mature for their age"), and this just doesn't cut it. Children are children, period.

There are just too many dangers today to even consider letting a ten year old child go to a mall alone. Pedophiles, rapists, kidnappers, murderers, etc. are counting on parents who do let their children go to malls alone; that is their easiest prey. And don't forget that even adult women have been kidnapped from malls, as well a other public places, so why would you think your child would be an exception? Safety should always come first, and no ten year old is mature enough, or old enough, to go to the mall with out an adult, no matter how "mature" the parent thinks they are.

And, while safety is the most important issue, it is not the only thing to consider. Mall employees work hard enough without having to be 'baby sitters' to ten year olds. Many children, who may be very well behaved at home, will often behave in very unbecoming and inappropriate ways when they are away from parents or authority figures. I have seen children of my friends who always seemed so good and well mannered at home turn into the total opposite when given that freedom before they were ready for it. Even the ones who's kids were "so mature for their age."

You also have to ask yourself who your child may be meeting or hanging out with at the mall. You would be surprised at some of the kind of kids who do hang out in malls, kids that you, as a parent, would not approve of.

A couple of last thoughts - just because your child has a cell phone does not make him or her "safe". Do you really think a kidnapper or molester is going to allow a child to call for help? You child would be much safer being with a friend the same age than with a cell phone, at least then one of them just may be able to run away for help. But that's only a "maybe", so don't consider that a safe bet, either.

10-years-old is too young to be allowed to go to the mall alone. Even with a friend it could be dangerous. No matter how grown-up or mature they think they are. it would not take long for a predator to gain their confidence and either get them alone or even both to go with them. These monsters know exactly how to do it and they are out there waiting for opportunities like these. I would not allow my child this age to go far alone. When they are a bit older then have the talk and allow them to go with their peers as long as there is someone older in the group that is watching out for them and making sure they all stick together. Someone responsible enough to understand the dangers and what to do in an emergency.

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Q: Is a fifth grader old enough to go to the mall by himself?
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