Free Range Parenting in Utah: It’s the Law

You’ve probably heard that Utah recently passed the country’s first ‘free range parenting’ law. In a ironic twist, you could say the law actually protects people for what they’re not doing – hovering and helicoptering their kiddos  – instead of mandating what parents must do.

The law, which took effect May 8, grants parents permission to give their children some freedoms that a well-meaning bystander might otherwise question. Utah parents will soon be able to, at their discretion, allow their kids to walk to school alone, ride their bikes around the neighborhood, and even go to a park sans supervision, without fear of having the cops called on them for neglect or even child abuse. The law doesn’t designate an age at which parents can grant these freedoms. Instead, they’re leaving it up to those who know their kiddos best to decide what’s allowed.

Why Pass a Free Range Parenting Law

Utah lawmakers noted they tried to be very careful in how they drafted the law, which passed unanimously. Obviously they don’t want it to contain loopholes that might allow an actual child abuser to justify actions. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, they felt it was important to pass the law because in some cases around the country, parents have had their children temporarily removed from their custody for something like letting them walk to school unaccompanied.

It’s an interesting law, even funny if you really think about it: we have to protect the grown ups from each other, in order to give kids permission to have some grown up experiences. It’s kind of silly, really  – is this kind of mandate necessary? But since we live in the United States, land of lawsuits and harm-is-everywhere hyperbole, Utah lawmakers think it is.

What’s your take on the country’s first free-range parenting law? Do you think it’s a good one?