Utah passes law to let kids be kids

  • 2 April 2018
  • NormanL
Utah passes law to let kids be kids

How far off the rails have some portions of our society gone? It takes legislation to allow kids to play outside, without adult supervision:

Utah has legalized a controversial child-rearing method known as “free-range parenting” that encourages the fostering of self-sufficiency in children from a young age, which is believed to be the first legislation of its kind in the United States.

The so-called “free-range kids” bill was signed into law by Republican Gov. Gary Herbert on Friday after the state House and Senate voted unanimously to approve the legislation.

The new law, which will take effect on May 8, specifies that it is not a crime for parents to allow kids who display maturity and good judgment to do things like walk to school alone or play outside without supervision.

An age limit was not defined, but the bill’s sponsors said it was left “purposely open-ended so police and prosecutors can work on a case-by-case basis” if abuse or neglect is suspected, according to The Associated Press.

“If there are clear signs of abuse, obviously that is grounds for action, and in no way is excluded [from the law],” Rep. Brad Daw (R), the bill’s House sponsor, told the Salt Lake Tribune.

Daw said he was convinced to pursue the legislation after seeing cases in other states of parents being investigated or even arrested for allowing their kids to do things alone. A Maryland couple made headlines in 2015 after they were accused of neglect for letting their two children ― aged 10 and 6 ― walk home without adult supervision. In 2014, a Florida mom was arrested on a felony child neglect charge for allowing her 7-year-old son to walk to a nearby park alone. (That charge was eventually dropped.)

That such a bill can be considered controversial makes the whole affair even more depressing.

But we get why some folks may think kids need to be under constant adult surveillance. The world is a dangerous place. Bad things can and do happen that could have been prevented if someone else had been close by, ready to intervene.

But insulating kids does them no favors. They need to experience the world on their own terms. That's how they learn, grow, adapt, and become more resilient adults.

Good on Utah for passing the law. Shame on the rest of us for allowing rampant nannyism to make such a law necessary at all.