Free-Range Kids

In Oklahoma and Texas, Parents Who Let Their Kids Play Outside Will No Longer Fear Neglect Charges

The Reasonable Childhood Independence bills restore basic freedoms to kids and their families.

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Go out and play, kids. It's about to be legal in Oklahoma and Texas.

Both states passed "Reasonable Childhood Independence" bills on Wednesday, ensuring parents that they can let their kids walk and play outside, stay home alone, and engage in other normal childhood activities without being accused of abuse or neglect. These bills just await their governors' signatures.

Also on Wednesday, the Nevada Assembly's Health and Human Services committee held hearings on a similar bill that proved so popular, all the committee members ended up asking to co-sponsor it. (It had already passed the state's senate.)

This is a triple-header for parents and kids.

Let Grow supported this legislation because we have heard from so many parents saying they want to let their kids go climb trees or run errands, but they're afraid someone could call the police and open an investigation. So they keep the kids inside, on the couch. Now, within days in Oklahoma and Texas—and probably within weeks in Nevada—it's Independence Day for families.

The bill, modeled on the Free-Range Parenting bill passed in Utah in 2018, had bipartisan sponsorship in Oklahoma and Nevada. In Nevada, state senator Dallas Harris, a Democrat, co-sponsored the bill. She admitted that she sometimes leaves her nine-year-old alone when she makes a quick Walmart pickup. Other assembly members said they wished the law had been in place when they were raising their kids.

The Nevada bill's co-sponsor, Assemblywoman Alexis Hansen, said, "This is one of the most important things we could be doing to let children grow." Her grown son, Daniel Hansen, testified in favor of the bill, in part because recently his sons, ages eight and 10, had been playing down his quiet street when a passerby called 911 to report unsupervised children.

The fire department came and escorted the children home.

It is precisely this kind of unnecessary intervention the new laws will help to curb, giving child protective authorities more time to focus on actual cases of abuse and neglect.

"The legislation in all three states focuses on clarifying the difference between real neglect and reasonable parenting decisions," said Diane Redleaf, Let Grow's legal consultant. "When parents leave their kids in obvious danger, that's neglect. But when they decide their child can walk to grandma's because mom has two jobs, the law needs to start supporting that parent."

In Oklahoma, state Rep. Chad Caldwell, a Republican, sponsored the Reasonable Childhood Independence bill in part because as a latchkey kid, "I'd ride my bike home from school, grab a snack, and go back out again to play king of the mountain in the empty lot nearby," he wrote in an op-ed. Those experiences gave him the confidence— and fun—he wanted today's kids to enjoy, and his co-sponsor from across the aisle, Jacob Rosecrants, felt the same.

In Texas, Andrew Brown of the Texas Public Policy Foundation shepherded the bill. His state had been home to a couple infamous stories of child protective overreach. In 2014, Austin mom Kari Anne Roy's six-year-old was playing within view of the house for about ten minutes when a woman marched him home and called the cops. Police officers paid Roy a visit, and a week later, child services interviewed each of her children separately. They asked the boy, 12, if he had ever done drugs, and the girl, eight, if she had seen movies with people's private parts—something she had never even heard of.

In Houston the next year, mom Laura Browder was arrested for having her kids wait 30 feet away from her in a food court when she had a job interview there and didn't have time to line up child care. The arrest came after she had accepted the new job.

For struggling moms, said Nevada's Sen. Harris, this bill "provides a little more equity." She and Rep. Hansen worried aloud that their own single moms might have been considered neglectful by today's standards. Statistically, according to a study in the American Journal of Public Health, 37 percent of American children will be reported to child abuse hotlines over the course their childhood. That number rises to 53 percent for African-American kids.

Harris acknowledged how unusual it was to find such bipartisan agreement on a bill. She is a gay, African-American Democrat from Las Vegas. Her co-sponsor, Hansen, is a straight, white Republican from a rural area. Harris laughed when she said, "If you see Rep. Hansen and me as the sponsors of the same bill, you know it is either a really good idea or a really bad idea. We think it's a really good idea."

It is a really good idea, and just in time for summer.

NEXT: Biden's 'American Families Plan' Sends the IRS To Snoop on Bank Transactions, Venmo Accounts

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  1. >>For struggling moms, said Nevada’s Sen. Harris, this bill “provides a little more equity.”

    why only struggling moms? and piss off with the equity thing it’s awful.

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    2. It’s the struggling moms who bear the brunt of these interventions, not the upper middle class couples who can afford nannies.

  2. On the one hand, “Yay for independence!”
    On the other hand, “Boo for magnanimously passing more laws to grant freedoms and not simply slashing the budgets of organizations responsible for these shenaningans.”

    1. If you don’t pass laws, the bureaucrats get to decide. In many cases, they would rather go after free range kids and ignore the neglected kids, so they can use sob stories to ask for a bigger budget. The incentive is to prioritize limited funding in exactly the wrong way.

      1. I think he means more that laws like this reinforce the concept that that which is not explicitly allowed is prohibited, which is exactly the inverse of how laws should work.

        1. And I think he means, “Wet roads cause rain and libertarians need to shut up and support CPS by continuing to pay their fair share.”

          Setting aside the fact that I think he’s between mistaken and lying; if CPS makes more money harassing free range kids than helping actual neglected/abused kids and if a duly-elected state senator, or even in this case a bipartisan majority/unanimity of them, can’t override the bureaucracy and slash the budgets they set and control without passing a law, it seems like you’ve got a bigger problem that’s harassing more than just free range kids.

          If slashing CPS’s budget causes them to harass more free range kids and save fewer neglected kids (especially if you, as unwritten/unlegislated policy slash based on the number of needless cases of harassment like this), then I’d say that house needs a more serious cleaning.

          1. “if CPS makes more money harassing free range kids then helping actual abused/neglected kids”

            CPS doesn’t make money.

  3. And all children in Oklahoma and Texas died instantly

  4. Once again we see red states leading and blue states determined to punish innocent children.

    1. You can’t help the poor if you haven’t inducted them in to the system. CPS and the police are just easy paths for the state to determine who needs their help. Clearly they only want the best for these children, that their intervention makes things much worse for these families can’t possibly be their fault…

      1. Assuming, of course, (as you did) that intervention was bad for them.

    2. I must say that after reading, “If you see Rep. Hansen and me as the sponsors of the same bill, you know it is either a really good idea or a really bad idea. We think it’s a really good idea.” I’m kinda curious as to how many times Harris supported a bill, discovered Hansen did to and subsequenty realized how terrible it was.

      1. All the other times?

    3. “Once again we see red states leading and blue states determined to punish innocent children.”

      My kid was raised free-range in a blue state, so I’m not quite sure what you’re on about.

  5. This sort of law could be useful as a camel’s nose type thing. Snitching Karens aren’t what reduced kids mobility and independence. But they sure did reinforce the traffic/car problem and the strangerdanger propaganda and such.

    Eliminate that reinforcement and maybe it will be possible for parents to start advocating for letting their kids use the public streets to go somewhere on their own to play outside. Changes the biking conversation completely when you’re talking about kids biking rather than wannabeLanceArmstrong biking.

  6. It does seem silly that we have to pass laws to say the the constitution means what it says. Just #defund CPS.

    Better yet would be forbidding anyone anywhere from acting on “an anonymous source”. Those sources lie a lot.

  7. his sons, ages eight and 10, had been playing down his quiet street when a passerby called 911 to report unsupervised children.

    One wonders whether “a passerby” was cited for abusing 911. What’s next? “Yes, I’d like to report *improperly* supervised children. There’s only two adults with three children, and anyway I think one of the adults is not related to anybody.”

    1. The government decided to dispatch the fire department in response to the report. Giving the government information to deploy emergency services is proper use of 911.

      The real problem is that operators need to understand that unsupervised children are not a problem and be supported in blowing off those calls. We should hold the public safety professionals we employ to a higher standard of restraint than the average American. If the operator blows the busy bodies off, the calls are harmless.

      1. “The real problem is that operators need to understand that unsupervised children are not a problem and be supported in blowing off those calls.”

        Except that sometimes unsupervised children ARE a problem, and it’s hard to tell just by looking. You see a bunch of kids running around on a park playground… which ones have good homes waiting for them to come home, and which kids are out running loose because nobody cares where they are?

        1. So all the kids must be vetted to go outside by the authorities? You can’t tell which adults walking down the street are walking with criminal intent either. Learning that you’re guilty or suspicious without evidence is teaching authoritarianism. If it’s hard to tell by looking, then possibly there is nothing to look at. There needs to be such a thing as reasonable cause, not just being outside being noisy. And abused kids can be the ones NOT allowed outside to play with the other kids. By your logic, shouldn’t they be reported too?

          1. “You can’t tell which adults walking down the street are walking with criminal intent either.”

            Read Terry v. Ohio. Covers this point fairly well.

            ” By your logic”

            You seem to have used these words to signal that you were going to ignore what I said and substitute your own words.

  8. What white supremacist fascist keeps calling 911 to report on kids hanging out. Oh yeah the left wing liberal kind.

    1. Did a liberal fuck your wife or something?

      You must check under your bed every night for boogeymen.

      “Think of the children!” types come from all sorts of busybody.

      1. “ Did a liberal fuck your wife or something?”

        Says the faggot whose movement’s leading woman espouse the joys of Cuckoldry. The left has a monopoly on effeminate men you bitch.

        “Think of the children!” types come from all sorts of busybody.“

        We’ve spent the last year during the pandemic being lectured on why the state should keep using force to destroy our livelihoods and freedoms under the guise of the elderly and children. You’ve been here cheering it on the whole time, you stupid fuck.

      2. White progressive sorta males can’t fuck anyone with their half strip of limp bacon

        1. If you watch some football games on TV they have ads for some pills that’ll fix that right up for ya, mixed in with the ads for beer and trucks.

  9. Can they drink out of the hose? Or will that cause worms?

    1. No, eating from the turkey fresh out of the oven will cause worms, as per Ralphie’s Mom on A Christmas Story.

  10. I wish y’all had included the bill numbers, so they can be supported. (Or opposed, if you must, statists.)

    1. In Texas it’s HB567.

  11. I’m sure those kids have just dropped a lit M-80 into that blue barrel. What else could they be doing?

    1. It looks like the girl is using that squirtgun to water the marijuana.

      1. must be Oklahoma then

  12. I grew up in central Texas. Summer was magical. The sun came up and out the door I went. Fishing pole, BB gun, dog. There were creeks, ponds, fields and forests. Fish, frogs, turtles, birds, rabbits, the occasional rattler, water moccasin, copperhead, tarantula. Hunting arrowheads, plinking empties collected from the roadside, turning over rocks to see what lived under them.
    There were two rules: 1) don’t break the law, much; 2) be in the house before dark.

    The world has not changed for the better.
    I blame the 24 hour news cycle.

    1. “I grew up in central Texas. Summer was magical.”

      I went to Basic Military Training near San Antonio. In summer, it’s uninhabitable.

  13. In the fifties & sixties we were allowed to be free-range kids. We played with creativity & imagination and, most importantly:
    We knew the difference between play/fiction and real life.
    We were allowed to learn through making mistakes.
    Parents knew their job was to prepare us for adulthood and did so, often by instructing us in using things that were potentially dangerous like cutting tools, soldering irons, matches, ropes and rifles.

    We had cap guns, BB guns, shootin’ shell guns, toy soldiers, toy tanks, wooden blocks, chemistry sets and tool kits. Plus every boy & most girls carried a jackknife. We played Cops & Robbers and Cowboys & Indians; we pushed and shoved and tied each other up – all just playing and having fun, doing no harm. Of course, in the course of playing we learned to negotiate and that the one who owned that equipment had more influence. We also got hurt and learned about pain. Nobody got upset much because (other than putting an eye out or breaking a neck) injuries were not considered earth-shattering; black eyes, stitches and broken bones were just part of growing up.

    Common sense was a lot more common; it seems it is not as contagious as it used to be. Glad to see some politicians have it.

  14. “In Oklahoma and Texas, Parents Who Let Their Kids Play Outside Will No Longer Fear Neglect Charges”

    Is that a net win for the kids playing outside because they actually ARE neglected?

  15. A visit from Child Protective Services amounts to a charge. To free parents of fear, make sure CPS does not become involved when your children play outside.

  16. I wonder when we’ll be able to call Child Stimulation Services on parents whose kids aren’t having any fun.

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  18. Good article and right to the point. I don’t know if this is truly the best place to ask but do you folks have any ideea where to get some professional writers? Thx 🙂
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  19. When I was growing up in Iowa, my bothers and I used to wander the fields ‘exploring.’ We all survived. It’s called being a kid.

    1. …Eventually, he was an only child.

  20. You must proceed your writing. I’m confident, you have a huge readers’ base already….Angers

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