Free-Range Kids

11 Worst Free-Range Moments of 2016

Pokemon panic, the war on errands, and sexy selfie paranoia

|

Crying
Katsiaryna Shut

It was the year of Pokemon Panic—any toy that gets kids outside must be dangerous —and the year a Florida school cancelled the "Powder Puff" all-girl football game (suggesting the girls bob for apples instead). It was the year that we saw the first academic study of bouncy house temperatures—"something that no one had really examined in the published literature," according to one of the researchers. Imagine that. But in all, it was a particularly great year for busybodies.

This video went viral—a man screaming at a woman who had the gall to pop into the gas station while her kid waited in the car—and so did this one, of parents who got their food at a buffet while their baby waited at the table. How dare they?! This mom was asked to leave a football game by the cops, because onlookers thought her baby looked cold. This mom's kids were ordered to undergo a physical because she let them wait in the car while she got a Starbucks. And this mom—my friend Julie Gunlock—ended up defending herself on a talk show after running into the store to get a rotisserie chicken while her boys, 9, 7, and 5, waited in the car. She certainly is Public Enemy #1.

And then there were these stories:

The 11 Worst Free-Range Moments of 2016

The police chief of New Albany, Ohio, helpfully revealed the age that kids are old enough to start going outside on their own: 16. "I think that's the threshold where you see children getting a little bit more freedom."

Local TV news in Fargo, North Dakota, reported that a mom "felt scared" at the grocery because she kept running into the same couple in several aisles, "And when I went to the checkout they were right there." Yep.

Kids at the Learning Collaborative, a pre-school in a disadvantaged neighborhood of Charlotte, North Carolina, were not allowed to play on their new swings because the grass and dirt underneath are "too dangerous." First the school must raise $1,100 to replace the grass with six-inch-deep mulch.

The Beaverton, Oregon, library will not allow children under 10 on the premises unless "within sightlines of parents" at all times. If an "adult/responsible caregiver cannot be located within 5 minutes, library staff will call the Beaverton Police Department."

When afternoon rain was predicted, parents at a New Mexico school received an email describing the pick-up protocol: "Walkers will proceed to the cafeteria until safe outdoor conditions can be confirmed. If there is no lightning and it is not raining too heavily, students can be released to walk home. If parents want to pick up students from the cafeteria, you will need to do so through the front office and we will radio for your students….Teachers will direct and supervise the students' transition to the vehicles….We appreciate your help to keep all students safe and dry."

A 14-year-old Iowa girl, "Nancy Doe," took two racy pictures of herself—one in a sports bra and boy shorts, one bra-less but with her hair covering her breasts—and texted them to a boy. A few weeks later, she was accused of sexual exploitation of a minor: herself.

The CDC advised all women who are not on birth control not to drink any alcohol until they reach menopause. Explained Princeton sociologist Elizabeth Mitchell Armstrong, "The idea is that any woman of reproductive age should be treated as potentially pregnant at all times."

Rhode Island legislators introduced a bill that would ban recess if temperatures drop below 32 degrees.

A 6-months-pregnant mom in Lexington County, South Carolina, was arrested for letting her kids wait in the air-conditioned car for 3-5 minutes while she ran an errand. Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster said that a parent simply stepping out of the car is one thing, but "if someone has abandoned a child, even for a short time, that's another matter." The errand qualified as abandonment, and the mom spent the night in jail.

A dying, wheelchair-bound sex offender with Alzheimer's must move out of the Boynton Beach, Florida, hospice he's in because it is too close to a pre-school.

Nine hundred middle school students in Grand Island, Nebraska, were evacuated when a staff member noticed an unfamiliar box in the band room. The state's bomb squad was summoned to open it, and discovered it held what some would indeed consider a threat to the community's wellbeing: an accordion.

Advertisement

NEXT: Turkey Blocking Access to Social Media After Assassination of Russian Ambassador

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. “Rhode Island legislators introduced a bill that would ban recess if temperatures drop below 32 degrees.”

    Canukistan’s national sport banned!

    1. Has it ever been above 32 F in Rhone Island?

      1. No, New England has yet to emerge from the ice age glaciation.

    2. We are required to supply snow clothes for our kids because they are REQUIRED to play outside during recess.

      Sandpoint, Idaho

    3. We are required to supply snow clothes for our kids because they are REQUIRED to play outside during recess.

      Sandpoint, Idaho

    4. We are required to supply snow clothes for our kids because they are REQUIRED to play outside during recess.

      Sandpoint, Idaho

      1. Apparently Idaho Bum has triplets.

        1. in triplicate no less.

  2. “and discovered it held what some would indeed consider a threat to the community’s wellbeing: an accordion.”

    Far worse than an IED.

    1. But still not as bad as a bagpipes.

      1. Of course not! How many bagpipes have elephant ivory in them?!? Every 75 year old bagpipe a school possesses results in the death of 50,000 elephants in the present.

      2. Hey! Almanian could be reading!

        1. I hope so. That was an attempt to get him to log in and tell me to fuck off.

          I miss that guy.

          1. He sure has been missing for a while. I was just wondering the other day if the cancer finally got him. Has he been around late nights or weekends?

            1. I haven’t seen him. I think Derp was communicating with him for awhile, but I haven’t heard anything else.

              1. I seem to remember a him popping in between the election and Thanksgiving, for a couple PM links, maybe?

            2. He’s fine. He just got sick of politics.

            3. The last comment I could find of his was on August 30th.

    2. And thus, Weird Al Yankovic’s plans for world domination came to an abrupt end.

  3. I dunno, Lenore. It might be time to admit defeat and realize we don’t live in those simpler times. I’m beginning to think it’ll just be easier if I go along.

  4. …and the year a Florida school cancelled the “Powder Puff” all-girl football game (suggesting the girls bob for apples instead).

    These euphemisms are getting downright pervy.

    1. Looks like a baby’s arm, holding an apple?

  5. “A 14-year-old Iowa girl, “Nancy Doe,” took two racy pictures of herself?one in a sports bra and boy shorts, one bra-less but with her hair covering her breasts?and texted them to a boy. A few weeks later, she was accused of sexual exploitation of a minor: herself

    Commerce clause or FYTW? I guess the WOD established this sort of shit, either way.

  6. There is neither a Lexington County nor a Newberry County in KY.

    1. The linked story says it’s SC, not KY.

      1. Its corrected without a hat tip.

    2. in KY.

      Which is surprising, given the number of counties in this state. Some of those eastern counties are as big as my yard.

  7. Local TV news in Fargo, North Dakota, reported that a mom “felt scared” at the grocery because she kept running into the same couple in several aisles, “And when I went to the checkout they were right there.” Yep.

    One of my friends would go to the grocery store with his girlfriend and they’d usually separate to cover more ground faster. Whenever he saw her in one of the aisles, he’d yell her name from the other side of the aisle and act like they were old friends who hadn’t seen each other in a long time. It made everyone within earshot feel extremely awkward.

    1. That story sounds like the mom was stalking the couple, not the other way around.

    2. My youngest sister would do this to me when she was in elementary school, but she’d pretend (loudly) to be my daughter. Someone at the store would invariably congratulate me on being a brave teen mom…

  8. I Quit my office-job and now I am getting paid 99 USD hourly. How? I work over internet! My old work was making me miserable, so I was forced to try something different, 2 years after…I can say my life is changed-completely!

    Check it out what i do:===> http://www.NetNote70.com

    1. You’re the one that comes up with the excuses for why Hillary lost? When does the next one come out?

  9. Sorta like that Nigerian prince, I guess someone clicks on this sort of crap or it wouldn’t be around.

    1. Oops;
      In reply to Lori…

  10. I love you to death, Lenore, but damn you for reminding of these stories (and a couple I had missed). Now I’m going to be in a foul, pissed-off mood the rest of the day

  11. The 11 Worst Free-Range Moments of 2016

    And no numbered list.

    1. She only presents the worst stories, it is up to you to decide the order.

    2. She literally turned it up to eleven. Literally.

  12. Maybe kids younger than 10 unaccompanied by an adult got to be too much of a pain in the ass for library staff. They have stuff to do other than keep somebody’s brats from disrupting the place. Schools provide enough babysitting at public expense without drafting the libraries.

  13. For some perspective, Alexander the Great was the regent of Macedon at 16. Of course, he lived a long time ago, which is why he was Alexander the Great and not Alexander the Pathetic Sniveling Coward.

    1. + 1,000,000,000 snowflakes

  14. “. . . parents at a New Mexico school received an email describing the pick-up protocol: “Walkers will proceed to the cafeteria until safe outdoor conditions can be confirmed. If there is no lightning and it is not raining too heavily, students can be released to walk home. If parents want to pick up students from the cafeteria, you will need to do so through the front office and we will radio for your students….Teachers will direct and supervise the students’ transition to the vehicles….”

    MOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. . . . . .

  15. Re: “a pre-school in a disadvantaged neighborhood of Charlotte, North Carolina, were not allowed to play on their new swings because the grass and dirt underneath are “too dangerous.” First the school must raise $1,100 to replace the grass with six-inch-deep mulch.”

    And if my experience in maintaining a playground holds in NC, that ‘mulch’ must be ‘certified kiddy mulch’ which costs 3-4x the price of regular mulch.

    Way to go .gov.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.