COMMENT: A couple of things I have learned about coroners over the years is that they see the worst of life and that is why some of the recommendations they make appear a bit over the top.
I learned that when I asked, I think the Chief Coroner, years ago why they would have recommended we need licences for hammer guns.
And two, given those type of recommendations, it is lucky they don't actually have teeth. In other words, we have the proper system in place that allows a coroner to recommend, but not to enforce.
Because if they could enforce, you would be walking your six-year-old to school from now on.
• Six-year-old killed by truck should have been accompanied by an adult
• Thousands of kids walk to school safely every day, principals say
• Coroner's decision sparks debate: Should adults accompany kids walking to school?
And in that tragic case in Gisborne is the coroner's system encapsulated. A horrific story, a story the details of which is left to the coroner to investigate. Just imagine doing that day in, day out, and as a result they argue no six-year-old should be walking to school by themselves.
And in that view is the clash between perhaps a conservative view of the world and the role of a parent, versus the cold hard reality of growing up, making your way, understanding independence, and decision making.
The law is weird. As far as I can work out, it's the same law that applies to babysitting. Basically you need to be under some sort of adult supervision or responsibility until you're 14.
It's a wonky law that, as far as I can tell, no one really oversees. Otherwise every kid under Year 10 would need mum or dad, or a big brother or sister, taking them to class, and that, I think, most of us would agree is nuts.
I walked to school from the first day at five. Mind you, and this is where sweeping laws, rulings, and decisions get messed up, I didn't cross a single busy road. I crossed several roads, but they were suburban.
I did get run over, but that wasn't going to school, that was going to my Nana's house. It was a busy road, I was by myself, and I was under 10 but (and here's another great variable of life) I was being a smart-arse and trying to skip between the traffic against the lights.
I got bowled by a Morris 1100, how embarrassing.
If you're going to get hit, get hit by a decent car. I still distinctly remember rolling several times, then checking myself, realising it wasn't the end, jumping up and scampering from the scene. While the poor old driver, beside themselves, wandered through all the local shops looking for some dented, bedraggled eight or nine-year-old.
Anyway, in cotton-wooling kids, the way too many do these days, yes they might not be in the same danger of being hit by a car, but they are in danger of never really learning to fend for themselves properly, and that is just as big a crime.
Yes, six is young. And if you're crossing State Highway 1, probably too young.
But the tragedy, a single tragedy, is not a reason to upend normality, common sense, or panic, and second guess all that we would deem a normal part of growing up.