The pampering of today’s youth is not limited to the latest electronics and clothes. Researchers are finding out that fewer kids are willing or permitted to even walk to school. What was considered the norm 40 years ago is now considered “uncool.”

In 1969, it was recorded that about 90 percent of kids who lived within a mile of school walked or rode their bikes there. In 2004, these numbers were showed to be 48 percent who walked at least one day a week. For those who lived farther away, the numbers have dropped even more dramatically from 42 percent in 1969 to 16 percent in 2001. Instead, they are now getting rides from their parents who drop them off on their way to work and such. The likelihood of getting a ride from a parent is increased as the number of cars owned by each household goes up. The convenience of driving has helped to further increase obesity risks in young children aside from the decline in physical education classes and recess in schools.

The survey conducted in 2004 was a randomly selected telephone survey of 7,400 families with children ages 9 to 15. The statistics for this survey show that over one-third of children live within a mile of their school yet only half of them bike or walk to get there. While less educated families exercise less and have higher obesity levels, the children of well-educated parents are more likely to get a ride to school mostly out of safety concerns and the fact that it is “cooler” to get a ride than to walk to school.

Children in the South do the least walking to school because of safety concerns. In fact, the South has the lowest levels of exercise and adult activity. The terrain of newer suburban neighborhoods are more accommodating to cars than to pedestrians nowadays. Many suburban and rural areas do not have sidewalks, good crosswalks, or other safety features that older urban communities do. As a result, more children walk and bike to school in urban areas, making safety a legitimate reason to ride kids to school.

In saying this, not only is getting a ride unhealthy for kids, but it is also an unnecessary reason to have more cars out on the road in a time when people are trying to be environmentally friendly. It is also spoiling kids by chauffeuring them around. If more children were walking to school, they could walk in groups to cut down on the risk factor and teach them to be more independent.

 

For related articles visit http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19750027/ and http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=10073348.

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