Utah passes first-ever Free Range Kids bill

By Katherine Martinko for Treehugger.com

The new bill recognizes that it is not neglectful for parents to allow kids to have some independence.

The state of Utah has just passed a bill legalizing free range parenting. The purpose of the bill is to foster self-sufficiency in children and to recognize that it is not neglectful to allow children to engage in certain activities independently, such as walking to school alone, playing in a park or playground, and staying home or in the car while a parent goes into a store.

It is the first such law in the United States. Even though Utah has no history of parents being investigated by child protective services under the circumstances described above, according to Rep. Brad Daw, House sponsor of the bill, it has happened in many other states. The new legislation, Daw says, “seeks to ensure it never will [happen in Utah].”

The bill offers a beacon of hope in a society that is currently far too quick to punish parents for allowing their children any freedom at all. Stories such as the Maryland couple whose 10- and 6-year-old kids were held by police after their parents let them walk home alone from a park have frightened other parents into feeling as though they can never leave their children unattended. This, however, has a damaging effect on kids, who never learn how to handle themselves, and it is exhausting for parents.

The Deseret News reports:

“Republican Sen. Lincoln Fillmore of South Jordan has said allowing kids to try things alone helps prepare them for the future… The law states the child must be mature enough to handle those things but leaves the age purposely open-ended so police and prosecutors can work on a case-by-case basis.”

Read more here.

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Melissa Bernard

Melissa is Reading Kingdom’s community manager and mom to two daughters, 4 dogs, 2 cats, and 2 tortoises.She is also an advocate for children with special needs as her youngest daughter suffers from Cerebral Palsy.Another major passion for Melissa is animal welfare and she volunteers as a foster parent for stray and abandoned animals.