“Controversial” free-range parenting is now legal in Utah


From Yahoo: The state of Utah has legalized a controversial childrearing method called “free-range parenting.”

On Friday, Gov. Gary Herbert signed bill SB65 that would allow kids the freedom to walk to and from school, wait in parked cars (while their parents run errands in a store, for example), and visit playgrounds solo, according to a story published Monday by the Associated Press. The bill, which doesn’t specify an age limit for the above activities, will go into effect May 8.

“I feel strongly about the issue because we have become so over-the-top when ‘protecting’ children that we are refusing to let them learn the lessons of self-reliance and problem-solving that they will need to be successful as adults,” Sen. Lincoln Fillmore, who sponsored the bill, tells Yahoo Lifestyle.

As outlined in the bill, the following situations would not qualify as neglect: traveling to and from school or recreational facilities by walking, running, or biking, playing outside, or sitting in a car unattended, provided the child is at least 9 years old and in reasonably safe conditions.

Free-range parenting allows children to grow up with limited parental supervision with the goal of instilling independence. It also utilizes a “common sense” approach to when kids should be left alone.

The phrase was popularized in 2008 when writer and mother of two Lenore Skenazy penned a story for the New York Sun about allowing her then 9-year-old son to ride the subway and bus alone after the boy begged for independence. The article went viral, with some readers labeling Skenzazy the “World’s Worst Mom” and others becoming fans of her blog Free-Range Kids, a resource for like-minded parents.

Several families have faced serious legal consequences for practicing free-range parenting.

In 2015, the Meitiv family of Silver Spring, Md., faced two Child Protective Services investigations after police spotted their children, ages 10 and 6, walking home from the park unsupervised on two separate occasions. In both cases, the family was cleared of neglect.

Other high-profile cases involved Debra Harrell, a mother in South Carolina who was charged with “unlawful conduct toward a child” for allowing her 9-year-old to play alone at a park while she worked at a local McDonald’s, and a Florida mother named Nicole Gainey who was arrested for child neglect after allowing her 7-year-old son to walk alone to a park.

Connor Boyack, president of the Libertas Institute of Utah, a think tank that proposed the law and advocated for its passage, tells Yahoo Lifestyle that it’s not explicitly unlawful for kids to play or walk alone outside; the bill, however, makes it harder to penalize parents for allowing their kids to do so.

“What typically happens is that police or child service workers will allege that abuse or neglect is occurring under a broad, subjective umbrella, and our bill clarifies that certain situations do not apply,” he says, adding that hearing from families that hesitated to give their children independence for fear of being arrested in part inspired the bill.

“We live in a fear-infused culture in which we’ve lost perspective on safety,” Skenazy tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Common activities like leaving a child in a car are often presented as though they pose enormous threats to our safety.”

According to Skenazy, laws don’t allow good-intentioned parents to make common-sense judgment calls, and the consequences for raising independent kids often carry harsh consequences. “Unless there is real evidence of abuse, a simple decision like a parent leaving their kid in the car while they run into a store doesn’t give a concerned citizen the right to start legal proceedings against a family,” she says. “Often the thinking is, it’s better to place a child in foster care than allow her parent to let her sleep in a car.”

Adds Skenazy: “Yes, anything can happen. But I hate the idea that imagination becomes the basis of law.”


35 responses to ““Controversial” free-range parenting is now legal in Utah

  1. So parents now require government’s permission to let their kids walk to and from school, wait in parked cars, and visit playgrounds solo. God help us.

    Liked by 11 people

    • That was PRECISELY the first thing I thought when I read this. How dare they. THEY need a good excuse to make anything “illegal”. I’ve been talking about this for years. The “Roman Law” model is what the NWO and this type of thinking is based upon. Our rights are “God-given”, we don’t get them as “privileges from The State.

      Liked by 3 people

    • There is good and bad with everything. I just hope that these parents at the very least have taught them and quizzed them regarding attempted abductions. This is not the same world we lived in years ago where you knew everyone in your town (and who to stay away from). Yello Dyno is a good program to let your kids view. “Protecting the Gift” by Gavin deBecker is also good, though I dispute his statistics about the ‘low number of abductions”, as he does not mention the thousands of foster kids that go ‘missing” each year, and these kids are also not counted in FBI statistics. Another is, many times attempted abductions are NOT reported at all in the crime blotter or any news (like the fake school bus in Michigan that was foiled by a very alert parent) – when I was growing up my sister had a guy try to get her into his car as she was walking home (oh his dog was lost, yeah right), I got an eyeful as a kid waiting at the bus stop- some guy flashed me on two separate occasions (never told to get his license number) and a friend a few streets up, her sister was grabbed and almost kidnapped but she screamed and bit and fought him off. A boyfriend I had, it turned out his uncle (he was the head of the tax collection department in our borough) was arrested for trying to lure 3 boys into his van. There were other things too that were never reported period. Like the girl who got raped in the woods behind the houses, only reason we knew about it was a detective came to the door and asked my mom if she had seen anyone fitting the police sketch.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. wen i was a kid,i walked freely,playing w my friends of my age my mom told me olways 2b carefully,n that was all…after hours of been outside,went to my mom to change my clothes she all sez was u not hungry my son?no mummy im not im going out to play ,b carefully my son! thank you mom,i love you! (shez 73yo,hopeGod will let her live long,father died 2 years ago)

    Liked by 6 people

  3. I don’t remember EVER being supervised when I played, except certain times when my brother and I were at daycare. Usually we played close enough to the house that we’d hear my mother call for us, but often not. Once we covered ourselves from head to toe in mud and rode our bicycles home, where our appalled mother sprayed us off with the garden hose. We turned out great.

    Mind you, the neighborhood was all White back then.

    Liked by 8 people

    • I forgot to add that not only did we walk to school, we took the city bus after school.

      Liked by 4 people

      • I’m talking 5 years old here, with my 8 year old brother.

        Liked by 4 people

        • Yep. I walked to first grade with a neighbor kid who was a year ahead of me. Later, I walked or rode my bike to middle school, then high school (until I had a car). In summers, we’d play in the neighborhood until dark.

          I grew up in the 70s (born in ’68), in a suburb of Los Angeles, that was predominantly white. We all felt safe enough.

          Today’s kids are SO supervised all of the time. That’s not NATURAL! But if you let your kid roam today, s/he’d have to do it alone, since everyone else is either busy with a scheduled activity or not allowed out of a parent’s sight.

          Liked by 3 people

    • The hood I grew up in was all White back then too, and there were many attempted abductions, all by white males. Just saying.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Today is a different world from when we were kids. There are too many real threats to kids today. I thought I lived in a very safe neighborhood until I recently found out there’s a registered sex offender who lives around the corner and two blocks down. You think I’m going to let my 6 and 9 year old grand daughters ride their bikes “free range” in the neighborhood? Nope.
    We’ve always followed one big rule of thumb for all age groups of kids…Never alone, always in groups. And once they could drive…check in once every hour.
    We haven’t lost a kid or teenager yet. And they know that consequences are dire if they don’t follow these rules all the time, every time.
    I don’t care what laws the legislatures put into place. They are MY children. They don’t belong to the government. I am responsible for their safety and I will do whatever I feel is necessary and take whatever precautions I deem necessary to keep them safe and teach them appropriate means of personal safety as they get older. The government is not my babysitter.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Good for you. I understand that things have gotten out of hand. It certainly wasn’t the way I grew up. I so deeply wish today’s kids could be allowed the freedom to explore like we did 50 years ago. But you are right, there are too many predators out there. Things were starting to get weird when I was in high school. We knew a girl who was kidnapped after she got off the school bus, and her body was later found mutilated. The killer never found. And we lived in a ” safe” community.

      Liked by 5 people

      • Sounds like my neighborhood too. You never heard about all the attempted abductions unless it was from the victims themselves. My one neighbor a few years ago was a 911 operator, she said we’d be amazed at what was never reported. That’s the problem with the burbs, they want an illusion of no crime, and it’s not that way at all. It makes you less safe if you don’t realize the crime element that is being hidden by the non-reporting of crime by the police chief et al.


    • I think you missed the point of the article.

      And for the record, there were sex offenders aplenty when you were a kid, just no Sex Offender Registry or Internet to check.

      Liked by 3 people

      • That’s absolutely true. Sometimes we even knew who they were by word of mouth. We were taught not to talk to strangers or get into cars. I knew what a dangerous situation looked like.

        If you ask me, the primary difference is that adults don’t intervene with kids out of fear of trouble. Also, there are mixed neighborhoods with some serious behavior problems.

        I’m old enough to have grown up largely before the “malls”. Even in the city people knew each other in their neighborhoods. If I got into trouble someone would tell my parents. If someone saw a kid doing something dangerous they’d step right up.

        Kids raise themselves now. That’s not being independent, its being irresponsible on the part of the parents. Kids need adults to keep an eye on them from a distance. For that matter, adults need to act like adults as well.

        Liked by 3 people

      • I lived in a small town and we didn’t need any kind of registry. Everyone knew what was going on and who to stay away from. I had a friend who was more than welcomed to stay overnight at my house but my parents forbid me to go anywhere near her house because her dad was a bad character.

        Liked by 1 person

    • I believe kids who are raised well will instinctively avoid “problem areas”,There were places in our expanded neighborhood we were advised to avoid (Stay out of Mrs. Horn’s yard-she doesn’t like kids at all.”,etc. and other places we were aware of being at risk in,such as the not-very-well-covered water well in a field a few blocks away (“If I fell in that well,they’d NEVER find me!”) or anywhere close to the Railroad tracks. Of course,that utilized “common sense”,which I notice is in short supply in today’s youth,thanks in part to the overbearing laws that have revoked children’s rights to be kids and develop common survival skills..

      Liked by 2 people

  5. This is a much welcome trend. Imagine… kids there will actually be allowed to engage with and gain an understanding of actual physics and not that “cartoon” variety of physics most kids are taught by life these days. Perhaps a few of them will now learn that they can’t jump off of the roof of a house while carrying someone on their shoulders, land on a cafeteria table below and expect it will bounce them back up, onto the roof. You see, nature has a plan to combat the kind of ignorance that is all-too-common today and that plan is to allow us to make mistakes while we’re still young, resilient and relatively incapable of climbing to dangerous heights.

    Liked by 5 people

  6. Pingback: “Controversial” free-range parenting is now legal in Utah | Fellowship of the Minds | Yubelium

  7. I think this change will help to insure that children do not become neurotic with all the strict rulings governing them. This was a wise choice. I am sure that those who “turned in parents” when they saw something that they did not approve of, were well intentioned, but the consequences to the other parents and THEIR children were often not good.

    Liked by 5 people

  8. This is good news, but as Dr. Eowyn points out, it is also sad that we require the government’s permission to allow children to grow normally now. My mother would have been sent to jail for how she raised my brothers and me in many areas of the country today, but I am grateful to her that she did what she did and didn’t do what she didn’t do.

    Liked by 5 people

    • We DO NOT NEED PERMISSION, PERIOD. If the state tries to impose some restriction we should always oppose it unless they can convince us that it is in all our best interests. We have to stop asking the Government for permission. We have to demand that they mind their own business and stop trying to social engineer society.

      Liked by 3 people

  9. My brother and I used to carry our 22 rifles to school, so we could go hunting after school on the way home. The county deputy would drive by and ask us how many squirrels we got that day or rabbits. That was a world away from where we are now. The government is now telling us we can not raise our children any more, they the nanny state see that they are more fit in this avenue of parenting and “have and will” step in and do their bidding when they see fit. They have laws to protect children and now they have laws passed to indoctrinate them it seems. Only God can help this nation now please pray for it every day.

    Liked by 4 people

  10. I’m all for parents rights and getting rid of the nanny state culture. Sadly, this publicly announced “free range parenting” could act like a magnet attracting every creep and pedo to the state. Easy pickings for them, as this world is openly more evil now then when we were kids decades ago.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I live in Utah. Because of progressive law makers’ encroachment on the freedoms of the rights of parents, it’s unfortunate but I think these types of laws are prudent to ensure those rights, or at least make it more difficult for the Feds to take them away. I hope we see more states take up laws that ban say …. cannabalism, fetus farming (stem cells), mandatory minimum penalties for human trafficking etc.

    Regarding the creep magnet theory – make laws extremely severe.
    If sought after, there are ways to preserve individual freedoms while beefing up security. There has to be an (honest) will before there is a way.

    Remember the flip-out Silverman had over the Oklahoma law…..

    The next time the political pendulum swings to the left (and it WILL), it may come to rat-out-your-(conservative)-neighbor-parent politics. Think of all the laws the LEFT could put up to further destroy the American Family unit (ironically) in the name of ‘protecting’ children. Evil that knows no bounds.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. My folks let me do stuff in the ’60s that would have gotten them arrested today… laying in the back of the station wagon while we road to church, sitting in the car in the parking lot of a store (in a bad section of town) afterwards while mom ran in to buy something, letting me walk 2 miles to junior high instead of taking the bus (my choice, so I could buy candy en route), letting me walk the 2 miles back home after track practice, etc.

    It was all just normal then, but it was a safer world for the most part too. I was one of the few kids allowed to walk to town on weekends as well, also to buy candy, which I then sold in school. I still enjoy walking to the grocery store to this day, although it’s only a mile or so for me now (round-trip).

    Liked by 2 people

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