The “free-range parenting” bill became law in Utah earlier this month after it passed unanimously in Utah’s legislature and the governor signed it. It’s believed to be the first such law in the United States, according to a story in the Washington Post.
This law turns traditional child neglect statutes upside down by listing various activities children can do without supervision. It allows “a child, whose basic needs are met and who is of sufficient age and maturity to avoid harm or unreasonable risk of harm, to engage in independent activities …” Those activities include letting children “walk, run or bike to and from school, travel to commercial or recreational facilities, play outside and remain at home unattended.” The law fails to state what constitutes the “sufficient age”. Reporter Meagan Flynn of the Washington Post explains that under the law, state child-welfare authorities can no longer take children away from their parents if their kids are caught doing those various activities alone, as long as their kids are adequately fed, clothed and cared for.
“As a society, we’ve kind of erred, as our pendulum has swung for children’s safety, a little bit too much to the side of helicopter parenting, right?” Utah State Senator Lincoln Fillmore stated earlier this year, while the bill was in committee. He said “We want kids to be able to learn how to navigate the world so when they’re adults they’re fully prepared to handle things on their own.”
Many states have laws that result in the arrest of "free range" parents" and agencies like DCF removing the children from the home. .
Those who don't agree with free range parenting argue that the “free-range parenting” style is not safe for children, despite the fact that stranger abduction is rare.
For more, read the interesting Washington Post article posted today by Meagan Flynn.
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