I shared something last week about the idea of “free range kids” that I had read a few years back, and as fate would have it I just read today that Utah has passed what is being reported as a first-of-its-kind “free range parenting” bill:
So-called free-range parenting will soon be the law of the land in Utah after the governor signed what appears to be the country’s first measure to formally legalize allowing kids to do things on their own to foster self-sufficiency.
The bill, which Gov. Gary Herbert announced Friday that he’d signed, specifies that it isn’t neglectful to let kids do things alone like travel to school, explore a playground or stay in the car. The law takes effect May 8.
Utah’s law is the first in the country, said Lenore Skenazy, who coined the term free-range parent. A records search by the National Conference of State Legislatures didn’t turn up any similar legislation in other states.
Utah lawmakers said they were prompted to pass the law after seeing other states where parents had been investigated and in some cases had their children temporarily removed when people reported seeing kids playing basketball in their yards or walking to school alone.
Headline-grabbing cases have included a Maryland couple investigated after allowing their 10- and-6-year-old children to walk home alone from a park in 2015. …
Skenazy, who wrote the book “Free Range Kids” after writing about letting her 9-year-old ride the New York City subway alone, has said the law is a good way to reassure parents who might be nervous about their parenting decisions. …
On the federal level, another Utah politician, U.S. Sen. Mike Lee, added an amendment to a 2015 federal education bill supporting the concept. It said kids shouldn’t be stopped from biking or walking to school alone with a parent’s permission, and parents shouldn’t face charges for letting them.
Good! The world seems much stranger and less safe than it used to be, but often in looking at the data that just isn’t the case. Utah’s legislation should be a model for the country, and should encourage parents to let their children explore their world when they’re old enough. I think it’s much more dangerous to raise a sheltered person.