Free-Range Kids

Utah May Legalize Free-Range Parenting

Lawmakers want to roll back penalties for childhood freedom.


The Utah State Legislature is reviewing a bill that would decriminalize the actions of responsible parents who let their kids walk or play outside.

If the lawmakers pass SB65, parents who want to give their kids a smidge of childhood freedom won't have to worry about a knock on the door from cops or child protective service workers second-guessing the decision to send their kids outside without a security detail.

Sen. Lincoln Fillmore (R) will present the bill. As he explained in the Deseret News:

Loving parents who empower their children to practice and learn from a bit of independence should not be subject to criminal penalties. We all want to protect our children, and sometimes that means protecting them from government agencies that may use flimsy pretexts to undermine parental rights and remove children who are merely experiencing something called "childhood."

Utah is ahead of the curve when it comes to giving kids—and parents—their independence. It was U.S. Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) who passed an amendment to the Every Child Succeeds Act two years ago that said that parents shall not be exposed to "civil or criminal charges for allowing their child to responsibly and safely travel to and from school by a means the parents believe is appropriate."

But that federal law added that "nothing in this…shall be construed to preempt State or local laws." So to make sure parents are not prosecuted for simply letting their kids take advantage of the very safe era we live in—the crime rate dropped yet again in 2017—Utah is now weighing similar legislation of its own. Every state should follow Utah's lead.

Utah's Libertas Institute supports the bill, saying:

This important parental rights legislation can steer Utah clear of the many notorious examples happening nationwide where police and bureaucrats intervene, separate children, arrest parents, etc. all because of reasonable activity (sometimes called "free-range parenting") that many of us engaged in as children.

Connor Boyack, president of the Libertas Institute (and father of two), says he was disturbed by stories about parents being arrested simply for letting their kids play outside, or even wait in the car a few minutes on a temperate day—another thing the Utah bill would allow, at least for kids supervised by someone over age 9.

The stories that disturbed Boyack include the cases of parents such as South Carolina's Debra Harrell, whose 9-year-old daughter was taken away for 17 days by the government after Harrell let her play in a popular park without parental supervision; Connecticut's Maria Hassankolli, who was handcuffed and arrested after she overslept and her 8-year-old walked to school alone; and Texan Kari Anne Roy, whose children were interviewed by caseworkers after she let her 6-year-old play 150 feet from home. Roy's 12-year-old daughter was asked if her parents ever showed her movies with people's private parts—something the girl had never heard of. And who can forget the Meitivs in Silver Spring, Maryland, investigated twice for letting their kids, ages 10 and six, walk home from local playgrounds on their own?

As for arresting parents who let their kids wait briefly in the car, these cases are too numerous to detail. But if you want to get mad, read about Evanston, Illinois, mom Julie Koehler, who let her kids—ages eight, five, and four—wait in the minivan while she got a Starbucks coffee. A passing cop saw the vehicle and when Koehler came out, he threatened to have her children taken away. Two days later, a child protective services rep showed up at Koehler's door and insisted the children be examined by a pediatrician for signs of child abuse.

All of these parents were eventually cleared, but only after suffering through terrible ordeals at the hands of overreaching officials.
Utah's parents deserve the right not to worry that government authorities will disrupt their families' lives simply for giving their kids some freedom.

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    2. SIV sends his kids to school on a mushing sled powered by poultry.

  1. By the time a child is old enough to start roaming the neighborhood unsupervised, it’s old enough to be permanently glued to an iphone, starting on the journey toward obesity and ADD, so I don’t see what the worry is about.

    1. Did it ever occur to you that those behaviors are driven by the prohibition on going outside? When I was a kid, going outdoors and doing shit was actually normal, and it’s typically what kids want to do. They don’t know they do now because they’ve never even heard of the concept.

      Between the ages of 8-16 kids are supposed to be outside doing shit and learning shit. Where the hell do you think the idea of boy scouts comes from? But since you commie liberals blindly worship the idea of education, and love unions and government, instead we warehouse our kids in schools where they learn nothing, and if any parent rebels and tries to free range, the cops are there with their $100,000 + union jobs to arrest them, thereby creating a pretext to suck up more government money and add another 10k to their salary

    2. Two separate problems, both harmful to children: Overly supervised activities to the point that letting you child play in the yard unupervised is a crime, and completely unsupervised used of iPhones to the point that they’re learning about pr0n before they learn to cross the street.

      Maybe we let parents allow their kids to play in the yard at the same time they limit their internet/smartphone/gaming usage. As in, “Save your Skyrim right now and get outside while the sun is still shining!”

      1. “But the sun set and it’s snowing in Whiterun”

    3. I was walking myself to school and all that – even across a busy main thorofare by the time I was five and maybe even four (don’t really remember 1st grade). Playing … you said about where you were going and were told what time to be home by. That was about it. Six and seven? Going over a mile away on my bike. Up to the stores. Over to the skating rink. Parents never came along. I can’t see all this helicopter stuff, especially since the crime rate dropped back so far down.

  2. “CPS didn’t give a fuck about my baby, and my deadbeat spouse got them both killed! Why didn’t you intervene government?”


    1. It’s already happening in my city. Kid died of child neglect and the commie mayor went on a rant asking why CPS didn’t save it.

  3. I say if a kid has a demonstrated ability to fire a .32 and hit center mass at 15 feet 3 out of 5 times, he’s responsible enough to be let out unsupervised.

  4. This cannot stand! If the kiddos are allowed to roam about unsupervised we all know it will end up like Lord of the Flies! And who will be there to provide teachable moments on racial and gender sensitivity? The feds need to step in under the Commerce Clause ASAP!

    1. Pretty much the mentality of most people living in the beltway. They are so binary, either government rules over people or its complete anarchy.

      That is why I say progs are retarded, their minds can’t grasp anything besides all or none. No ability to think of other possibilities.

      1. They are so binary

        That’s problematic. Where are the non-binary role models?

        1. Where are the non-binary role models?

          I’ll grant you that, more non-binary role models would help the situation.

          1. I agree. Every neighborhood needs two trannies protecting their pot stashes with guns, as role models for the kids.
            “Look Junior, those two people may be fucking weirdos who shag each other with broomsticks, but they aren’t knocking down our doors and shooting our dogs. We need more people like them in the world, Junior.”

      2. Conservatives are the same. Just replace the government with the church.

        1. Can’t completely disagree with you, but in my experience the progs are ten times worse.

          1. Yes, they are right now. But it only because the federal government currently exercizes so much more power. Most conservatives are anti-government only so far as it limits their desire to implement local tyrrany.

            1. We have separation of church and state. Maybe we need separation of progressive ideology and state. It’s essentially the same thing.

              1. Once you come to realize that Progressivism is actually a Christian heresy, that not only makes sense, it actually seems like it may be legal…

        2. you’re delusional

        3. I have never heard of a church SWAT team breaking into a house and tossing a flash-bang into a baby’s playpen. Why do you think that is?

      3. Or maybe you’re the stupid one and don’t have any understanding about what progressive thought consists of.

        1. No, that’s pretty accurate. You want to act like there’s some sort of nuance, but there isn’t. The liberals are crazy

  5. Back in my day-my parents told me to always carry a dime to call home and if anyone starts bothering me (especially a guy in a blue car named Mike who liked to expose himself to kids), find a police officer. I don’t think I have seen a pay phone in about 5 years now, and my kid calling the cops will get him taken away and me sent jail, so can’t pass on this sage advice.

    1. You would be well advised to tell your kids to avoid cops at all costs.

      1. “The talk.”

        1. “Police uniforms are for sexual roleplaying. If you see someone wearing a police uniform who isn’t on the giving end of purely voluntary BDSM, call this number immediately. It the phone number of a registered anarchist.”

    2. How old are you that payphones cost a dime?

      1. As old as me. & they came in booths (With a seat, light, & fan!) that were on sidewalks, in stores (esp. drug stores), stations, garages, parks?all over the place. There was a standard sign outside or in the window that indicated the premises had one or more?but not an orange light; that was for fire alarms.

  6. About time some sanity was injected into this subject.

  7. It mystifies me how people can ignore the significant harm they cause in pursuit of mitigating tiny risks.

  8. According to senator Portman, child snatching for sex trafficking is at an all time high, somewhere around 4 out of 10 a day. Because of Backpage.

  9. Do you want Demogorgons?
    Because Netflix teaches us that free-range children on bikes is how you get Demogorgons.

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