Last month Utah passed the first in the country “Free-Range Parenting” law by amending the states legal definition of Neglect. You can read the bill SB0065 in it’s entirely on the Utah State Government website. The Law goes into effect on Tuesday, May 8th.
GOP state Sen. Lincoln Fillmore, the bill’s sponsor, told reporters. “What we’ve done with this bill is just to define some specific things that neglect is not — like letting your kids play or walk to or from the park,” “These kinds of things that parents want to allow their children to do so they can start building the self-reliance, the independence, the problem-solving skills that they’re going to need as adults by practicing those in safe environments as children.”
BBC provided some backstory explaining the need for the new Legislation:
When Alexander Meitiv dropped his two children – 10 and six – off at a local park near their Maryland home to play for the afternoon in late 2014, he was not expecting the firestorm that would follow. A bystander called 911 after noticing the children walking home by themselves. Police stopped them and brought them back to the Meitivs’ home.
Shortly after, the family was visited by Child Protective Services (CPS). Danielle Meitiv says they were threatened with arrest and removal of their children.
A few months later the Meitiv children were walking home from another park in Maryland when they were taken by the Police. Only after the kids missed their curfew and their parents called emergency services did they discover their children were being held by Child Protective Services, who had not bothered to notify the family.
State Representative Brad Daw discussed the new changes with the New York Times:
“The law says that you can’t just call authorities if you see a child playing alone in the park. It frees up authorities from investigating these nuisance calls while allowing them to focus on children who are actually being neglected,”
In researching this piece it was extremely difficult to find anyone on either side of the political spectrum that strongly disagreed or objected to kids having this sort of freedom. Even some that feared that this could put children in danger, also confessed that they too were allowed, at times to roam free, and it helped them build a stronger sense of independence. Maybe a new leaf has started to turn and the days of helicopter parenting will soon be at an end?