Utah Becomes the First in the Nation to Legalize Free-Range Parenting

Some parents think it's fine to allow their children to stay home alone, wait in the car by themselves, or walk to the playground without supervision. Other parents think that children need to be more closely supervised and shouldn't be left alone until at least the tween years. Until now, no state has taken a stand on whether free-range parenting (where parents believe their children should be given great freedom from an early age) should be legally allowed.   

That's all about to change.

{ MORE: Living in an Era of Disrespect: Are We Raising Our Kids the Right Way? }

Under a bill recently passed in Utah, starting in May parents will legally be allowed to do things like allow their children to play in park unsupervised, take a walk around the neighborhood alone, or leave the kids in the car while mom or dad runs into a store to do an errand. The law in Utah still requires parents to take all reasonable steps not to neglect their children by ensuring that their basic needs are met and that children are of “sufficient age and maturity” to act independently and not take unreasonable risks.

Many are applauding this first-of-its-kind law because it allows parents to make decisions about how they want to raise their own children and legalizes many of the activities they did when they were children, such as walking to school by themselves. Some also note that the law will free up investigatory resources for children who are being severely neglected because cases of children playing in the park alone or riding bikes with friends around the block will not longer have to be investigated.  

Not everyone agrees with giving children this type of freedom and those parents are free to continue to not allow their children more independence until they are ready. There was no organized opposition to the bill in Utah, although a similar bill in Arkansas failed last year. 

Other states are now considering enacting similar laws. Would you be in favor of a law legalizing free-range parenting in your state?

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Utah Becomes the First in the Nation to Legalize Free-Range Parenting

Jamie is a Beltway Insider who loves channeling her pre-motherhood love of traveling into spending time exploring all D.C. has to offer with her brood of two girls and two boys ages 9, 7,5, and a baby. She is a reformed lawyer turned full-time kid wrangler who enjoys photographing her everyday chaos and anything salted caramel. Since life is never dull, she loves writing about the issues and events going on in her life at any given time, including caring for a daughter with special needs and th ... More

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