It was 10 years ago I let my 9-year-old son ride the subway by himself. In response to the enormous media blowback (Today Show video below), I started the Free-Range Kids blog, the predecessor to this one, to say that I LOVE safety, but do not believe that our kids are in constant danger (and the crime stats bear me out).
Then I started hearing about parents being investigated for letting their kids walk or play outside because OTHER PEOPLE (including some cops and child protective service workers) believe oh yes the kids ARE in constant danger. The excessive fear for our kids had seeped into law.
When I publicized these stories to show how insane it is to treat loving, rational parents as neglectful simply because they trust their kids to have a bit of independence in these safe times, I accidentally created a new fear among parents: “Free-Range” your kids and you could get arrested.
Clearly, the law needed to be very clarified: Giving your kids an old-fashioned childhood is not negligence. So with the help of Adrian Moore at Reason, I wrote the “Free-Range Kids Bill of Rights,” which states that, “Our kids have the right to some unsupervised time, and we have the right to give it to them without getting arrested.”
And it is basically that law — written in more legal terms — that passed both the Senate and the House in Utah UNANIMOUSLY. It awaits the Governor’s signature. But in the meantime, all hail Utah State Sen. Lincoln Fillmore for sponsoring and pushing for the bill, and the Libertas Utah, a policy think tank, for great support of the bill.
The fact that it passed unanimously proves that this is not a partisan issue. It is simply a parenting issue: Let parents parent. Let kids be kids.