Free-Range Kids

'A Society Where Children Can Go Outside, Unsupervised, Is a Healthy and Safe Society'

A national newspaper endorses free-range parenting


Julie Campbell / Dreamstime

Canada's national paper, The Globe and Mail, just came out with a big, blazing, bad-ass defense of everything we are fighting for, when it comes to the government vs. parents. It specifically said:

Free-Range Parenting may not be everyone's cup of tea, but practising it should not demand state intervention.

If that's not legitimacy, what is?

The piece was prompted by the case of a British Columbia dad who taught his kids, ages 11, 9, 8 and 7 to ride the bus. A busybody assumed this wasn't safe and called Child Protective Services. CPS found the dad, Adrian Crook, exemplary. But it also ruled that kids under age 10 are not allowed on their own "in the community, at home, or on transit." This prompted The Globe and Mail to say:

We are becoming a nation of censorious busybodies and scaredy-cats bent on inhibiting not just personal choice but the very notion of parental and child agency. The enterprise is being empowered by overbearing government policy.

Telling the dad his kids need constant adult oversight is a "terrible precedent. And we're all to blame for it." But if we could just get back to believing kids can be fine outside on their own, they way most of us were, "child welfare organizations won't freak out."

Unfortunately, Canadians and their governments are increasingly adopting an extreme and absurdly narrow view of child welfare. It imagines that every moment unwatched by adults is a moment of looming danger, and that such moments must be eliminated. This mindset has taken over gradually, progressing step by small step, always professing the best of intentions…

The state, however, should be capable of looking out for kids while maintaining some sense of perspective, and not confusing "life" with "neglect." …

A society where children can go outside, unsupervised, and where they are encouraged to do so, is a healthy and safe society.

Which is why towns and states that want to prevent government intrusion into decent parenting decisions should consider passing some version of the Free-Range Kids & Parents Bill of Rights: "Our kids have the right to some unsupervised time, and we have the right to give it to them without getting arrested."

Time to let kids grow, and the overprotection establishment shrink.