In the United States, the majority of parents would never send their young child across town on a bus or subway by themselves to do anything.
A parent in this country might even be charged with child abandonment if someone reports seeing their young child alone without supervision in public. However, in the Asian nation of Japan, seeing children riding buses and trains alone while traveling to school or running errands is an every day thing.
A popular Japanese television show called Hajimete no Otsukai (My First Errand) broadcasts children in that country as young as three as they’re hopping on buses and trains to go to school and to fetch items for their families at stores. This show has been on the air for a quarter of a century.
Dwayne Dixon, cultural anthropologist was recently profiled in The Atlantic Magazine in an article, which discussed Japanese culture. Dixon wrote his doctoral dissertation on Japanese youth culture. In it, Dixon wrote about the Japanese cultural values, which promote a high level of independence in the nation’s children.
“[Japanese] kids learn early on that, ideally, any member of the community can be called on to serve or help others,” Dixon says.
A low national crime rate is another good reason why children are routinely seen Japan in public handling their own business and travelling alone.
When you talk to most Americans about your plans to move out of the country because of the horribly high crime rate, the big excuse discouraging people will give you is “crime happens everywhere.” But when you look at the global crime statistics and compare the numbers of the U.S. and Japan, you will see a major disparity.
Homicide rates in the U.S. are 10 times higher than the homicide rates in Japan when you look at occurrences per 100,000 people, according to the U.N. affiliated European Institute for Crime Prevention and Control. Japanese culture also has a strong emphasis on the home being a primary source of positive influence for children.