This didn't surprise me too much of this since I sometimes walked my own five year old to school, clinging and protesting, only to see him greeted by the other students like a minor rock star (girls flirting, boys high-fiving). Of course when I asked him about this, he quite logically replied "I just hate giving up my freedom."
Of course, like others of my generation, I walked to school a mile or so myself.
Anyway, I didn't think much about the modern system until I read this WaPo story by a mother who sent her son to school in Japan:
All Japanese children go to school on their own. My son attended a private school 90 minutes from our home. At age 6, he took two trains and a bus, transferring at the world’s biggest rail station. Parents were not allowed to accompany their children after the first three weeks of first grade. Sometimes he fell asleep and missed his stop, and sometimes trains were delayed.If one judges by the murder rate, Japan is probably the safest country in the world, but still the contrast is impressive. It's not like I live in Detroit or Chicago.
A couple of elderly (my age) ladies tried to go to LEGOland in Phoenix. They were firmly told that because of the pedophilia problem, no adults without accompanying children are allowed. This is apparently the case in Europe as well.