Parents in Utah May No Longer Be Prosecuted For ‘Free Range’ Kids

March 29, 2018
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Gov. Gary Herbert signed a bill earlier this month that makes it OK for parents to let their children “free range.”

Utah is believed to be the first state in the nation to pass such a law.

The measure basically changes the state’s legal definition of neglect. This means that parents won’t be prosecuted for letting their kids (of appropriate age) do things like walk to school by themselves, go to the store alone, play outside unsupervised, sit in a vehicle alone or stay at home by themselves.

The lawmaker who has sponsored the legislation, Republican state Sen. Lincoln Fillmore, said that he wanted to keep police and state agencies from arresting parents for things like letting their kids walk to school unaccompanied.

“It’s not neglect if you let your child experience childhood,” Fillmore told CNN affiliate KUTV last month. “The message is you need to protect your kids but we are not doing kids any favors if we shelter them to the point where they are not learning how to function.”

The bill does not define what the appropriate age is to allow children to be on their own, KUTV said.

The free-range movement is thought to be a pushback on helicopter parenting — the idea that kids need to be supervised all the time.

Free-range parenting gained momentum about a decade ago with the publication of the book, “Free-Range Kids,” by Lenore Skenazy, a New York Mother, television host and author.

Skenazy was called the worst Mom on the planet after she wrote a story in 2008 on why she let her then-9-year-old son take the subway by himself.

 

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