A landmark bill in Utah makes it the first state to legalize 'free-range parenting.'
A landmark bill in Utah makes it the first state to legalize 'free-range parenting.' This means that parents will not face neglect charges for allowing their children to participate in activities without supervision.


It almost seems surreal that 'free-range' parenting is something that needed to be 'legalized.' Generations of parents have been providing their kids with the freedom to roam and play and raising them to be independent.

In Utah, Governor Gary Herbert signed a law that redefined neglect of children to allow parents to give their children freedoms as 'free-range' parents without worry of charges of abuse or neglect.

Related: Why Free Time for Play is So Important for Every Child

Governor Herbert said that the state of Utah believes parents are the best judges of how to teach responsibility to their children. Without evidence of specific and clear danger, abuse or neglect, parents should be allowed to raise their kids how they like.

The new law protects parents who allow their children to play unsupervised outside, wait alone in cars or walk to school without supervision. State Senator Lincoln Fillmore sponsored the bill and said that there is too much hypervigilance about overprotecting children, which shelters them from real-world opportunities and life experiences. Fillmore said he believes that children need to explore and play in the world, and when they do so, they learn how to problem solve and be self-reliant.

Lenore Skenazy is an author and wrote her book, "Free Range Kids," based on her letting her nine-year-old ride the New York Subway system without her. She said that the law is a way to give children unsupervised time that they have a right to, and protects parents in allowing them to have their rights.

Skenazy said parents may disagree about the age children should be allowed to do certain things without supervision and believes that is dependent on the child and family, but now, will not worry about child protection services investigations for simply letting parents choose to let their children live with some freedoms.

Related: No Longer Free to Roam: Is an Epic Childhood Even Still Possible?

Obviously, she says she'd not let a three-year-old play by herself in the park, but a ten-year-old with a set time to be gone should have the right to enjoy that time to herself. Additionally, she'd let her seven-year-old walk to school by herself while others may not, but no one should face jail for choosing what is best for their family.

Opponents say this world is different from the one in which we all grew up in, and allowing a seven-year-old to walk to school by herself is inviting trouble.

But proponents say that common sense and safety skills and strategies are best taught when used and employed, and parents who have clear guidelines about safety and safe practices are helping their children become self-sufficient adults while letting them 'be kids.'

The law was passed unanimously by both of the state's branches of the legislature and will go into effect in May.

Photo Credit: Africa Studio / Shutterstock