Free-Range Kids

Texas Becomes Third State To Pass Free-Range Kids Law

"You had the most right-wing members of the legislature signed on with most left-wing members."


Hats off to Texas: Over the weekend, it became the third U.S. state, after Utah and Oklahoma, to make reasonable childhood independence the law of the land. Now parents who live there cannot be investigated for neglect simply for giving their kids some old-fashioned freedom.

Amazingly, the bill became law on the 11th anniversary of "Take Our Children to the Park and Leave Them There Day," a holiday created by Free-Range Kids and once considered so wacky—so dangerous—that it was splashed across the pages of The New York Daily News. The paper quoted the mother of an eight-year-old, saying: "Never in a million years would I do something that stupid. When the kid turns 18—fine. Until then you watch them." And it spoke to an "expert"—the chief psychologist at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn—who said that "a seven-year-old shouldn't be left alone in a backyard, much less a park."

Too bad for that shrink. When the Texas law goes into effect in September, more than one tenth of all Americans will live under laws passed with the help of Let Grow, the nonprofit that grew out of Free-Range Kids, that insists our kids are smarter and safer than our cowering culture gives them credit for.

HB 567 enjoyed bipartisan support, sailing through the Texas Senate unopposed, and winning the House with a vote of 143 to 5.

The statute enshrining childhood independence is part of a bigger children's services bill ensuring Texans that the state will not intervene and remove kids from their homes unless the danger is so great and so likely that it outweighs the trauma of entering the foster care system.

"Removing a child from his or her family causes immense harm to the child and should only be done when absolutely necessary," said Rep. James Frank, a Republican who was one of the bill's co-authors. This new law—"the product of years of work from stakeholders of all types and legislators of both parties," he said—gives the authorities those marching orders.

It does so because it "changes our definition of neglect," Rep. Gene Wu, a Democrat, told the assembly. From now on, kids will be removed only when "they're actually in danger, and not just the possibility of danger."

This way the bill not only protects parents who want to let their kids play outside, "it also enables parents struggling to make ends meet to make childcare arrangements that make life easier rather than harder," says Diane Redleaf, Let Grow's legal consultant. In other words, it prevents poverty from being mistaken for neglect.

Andrew Brown, distinguished senior fellow for child and family policy at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, thinks the bill will come as a major relief to working families.

"Say you're a single mom and you have to catch the 7:15 a.m. bus to get to work but your babysitter's running late," says Brown. "If the mom misses that bus, she gets to work late and loses her job. How does that help the child, if now she can't pay her rent? So she leaves her child home alone for 15 minutes." The new law makes sure that such circumstances do not result in neglect charges.

It would have been most welcome in 2015 when Houston 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.

At the same time, the bill also helps folks who choose not to helicopter parent, like Austin mom Kari Anne Roy, whose case made headlines in 2014. Roy was at home while her six-year-old played within view of the house for about ten minutes. A passerby 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'd never even heard of. "Thank you, CPS," Roy said.

That kind of thing is in the rearview mirror now, in Texas.

"You had the most right-wing members of the legislature signed on with most left-wing members," said Brown. The bill was so popular "because it's a common sense reform."

As common sense as taking your kids to the park and leaving them there when you know they're ready—no matter what some passerby or bureaucrat thinks.

NEXT: Alabama Legislature Passes Modest Asset Forfeiture Reforms

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  1. Free range and grass feed

    1. No antibiotics.

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  2. Yee haw, stick that in your eye California.

    1. U may not want to know where theyre sticking what in Californication…


    2. You know California is one of the few states that never passed a law telling parents how old their kid has to be before they can be left alone.

      1. True. As a cop in CA I got calls from nosy neighbors and other busybodies all the time, insisting that it was illegal to leave a ( fill in the blank) age child alone, or let them do XYZ activity.
        No such law. It was up to my subjective judgement to determine if the situation presented an undue danger to the child, taking into consideration a number of factors. I rarely did.
        We would actually get child endangerment calls from motorists because they saw children they thought were under eight years old not in a child seat. Or 12 year olds left alone at home while their parents ran to the store.
        People are idiots.

  3. The fact you need a law to let parents let their kids outside alone to roam like mine did in the late 60’s and early 70’s shows how fucked up people have become. Screw this doctor and all the nanny states fucks. Sorry about my language but, this pisses me off.

      1. Yes, this.

    1. agreed.

    2. “The fact you need a law to let parents let their kids outside alone to roam…”

      It’s worse than that. The fact the government claims the power to grant that right by passing a law means they think they have the power to take that right away.

      1. Deliberate scam!

        Then Social Commies use the Courts to twist the law into sphaghetti based on one real or fabricated event where thru at least legal fiction. child might have possibly could have maybe been in danger.

        This happened in a suit in WA State during Trump where Plaintiffs dug up someone who had a fake claim of having bern damaged by the immigration ban.

    3. And, again, this.

  4. free range sounds like livestock. also we’re a mess if laws are required on kids playing outside wtf

  5. Granted, I grew up in a small town, but I could walk the couple blocks to a friends house by 4 years old and ride my bike to the 5&Dime by 6 years old. No one ever thought bad about it, as all the kids had limited range that expanded with age. My parents were too busy to hover over us.

    1. Darn right, they were…were…


      1. Yup, my mom was working – at home. Keeping the place in order, cooking, trying to stay sane with three lunatic offspring. So “here’s 50 cents, go get a haircut, and look both ways before crossing the street”.

  6. Lived in TX for over 20 years with kiddos, never knew this was “illegal” before the almighty (state) gubment said it was ok. Breakin the law, breakin the law…

    1. It wasn’t illegal. But the law was vague and so CPS used a heavy-handed approach to punish parents. The law in Texas doesn’t have a minimum age to be left alone at home, but it’s at the parent’s discretion. However, if you did, CPS could disagree with your decision and cause all sorts of problems. This new law basically codifies that these things (like leaving your kids unattended) are NOT neglect and can’t be used against a parent as a reason to open a CPS case. It’s not granted the parents a right, but rather limiting the state’s power in such circumstances based on the principle that these are inherent rights. Hope that makes sense.

    2. “Lived in TX for over 20 years with kiddos, never knew this was ‘illegal’ before the almighty (state) gubment said it was ok.”

      The problem is that neglect is both hard to define AND hard to detect from outside. So what usually happens is a pendulum effect wherein the the state authorities tend to leave parents mostly alone until a horrible abuse case makes the news. Then, they crack down to try to prevent another similar case from happening, which will sometimes cause an innocent family to be targeted for corrective action that isn’t actually needed, which makes the news and suddenly the state authorities can’t back away fast enough from anything even remotely similar. And back and forth and back and forth, with nobody ever really happy because the standard expected of the bureaucrats is 100% accurate decision-making on about 0% information, and outsiders are always looking on with hindsight. “How did you miss the signs? They were so obvious! You should all be fired!” mixed with “why are you hassling that family over nothing? It was so obviously not a problem! You should all be fired!” The only thing everybody ever agrees on is that everybody should be fired.

      Here is a story that I became aware of. Near where my family lived there was a single mother with a young child, maybe 4 or 5. Not quite school age, as I remember it. We’d sometimes see the kid out in the neighborhood, looking for someone to play with, and often hungry. Turns out, the mother had a job that required 12-hour shifts and didn’t pay enough for 12-hour daycare, so the kid was staying home alone while mom went to work. Someone turned mom in to the CPS/social workers. They came through the neighborhood, and interviewed people about what we knew about that family, which was close to nothing. They located a family member that mother and daughter could stay with so there would be some child supervision while the mother was at work. We know how it worked out because the mother came around, knocking on doors, to tell the story. Another neighbor was home with her three kids and interacted with the little girl more than I ever did. I don’t think she was the one who dropped a dime but I know she took more interest in the goings-on than I did.

  7. And it spoke to an “expert”—the chief psychologist at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn—who said that “a seven-year-old shouldn’t be left alone in a backyard, much less a park.”

    I have two questions for this so called “expert”.

    1. Did your parents allow you to play outside unsupervised at age seven? (The answer is almost certainly yes)

    2. If allowing a seven year old to play out side unsupervised is so unreasonably dangerous and you answered yes to the first question, how is it that you are here? How did you manage to survive to adulthood?

    1. kids have been playing outdoors unsupervised for 6000 to a billion years but suddenly its a crisis…

      The word is ” capricious.”

    2. “1. Did your parents allow you to play outside unsupervised at age seven? (The answer is almost certainly yes)”

      No. Because at three, I used unsupervised time in the back yard to tunnel out and got several miles down the highway before Johnny Law caught up to me.

      “How did you manage to survive to adulthood?”


  8. Too many laws already, and we have to pass more laws to tell bureaucrats to behave like human beings.

  9. three to zero red v. blue.

    1. When my brother and I were 9 and 7, we missed the bus. Dad made us walk two miles to school, by ourselves, mostly along country roads with no houses until we reached the small town where the school was. He would have been put in front of a firing squad in some places today.

      1. Yep. But that doesnt engender the spread of Social Justice.

        Latte Sipping Soy Boys and Girls are world class experts on child rearing….just ask them.

        1. Especially those without kids.

    2. “three to zero red v. blue.”

      So the places that had problems that needed fixed were the red ones?

  10. “You had the most right-wing members of the legislature signed on with most left-wing members.”


    Trying to calculate just how wrong this will go.

    1. Math is racist.

      1. I’m sure it is when you do it.

  11. This fucking country man. Let’s all pat ourselves on the back and throw a party because we made a law to not arrest parents and send their kids to foster homes.

    Why does this need to be a law? Why did we allow so much freedom of our own to be traded in for the safety of our goddamn brats? Fuck “the kids.”

    Every time the government or media cries about “the kids” it’s always been an ass fucking for the rest of America.

    So have we learned our lesson? Will people finally tell the media and gov to fuck off next time they come pleading about the harm being done to kids?

    Goddamn irrational and impulsive lemmings – can you think?

    I’m fuckin moving. This place is dumpster fire of greedy and selfish bitches who can’t understand that every boogeyman they create a law for results in their own enslavement.

    1. I agree with the position, if not the language.

    2. So could you be a bit more specific about “this place”?
      Because if you mean all of the USA, I am curious about where you think it’s better.
      If you just mean some blue slave state, you are welcome in free America.

      1. ” you are welcome in free America.”

        Unless, of course, you know that Trump lost the 2020 election, and say so in public. In that case you won’t be welcomed at all.

    3. Cant be said any better.

      This is all a RUSE. Its a Good Cop, Bad Cop” game.

      Create a crisis, theres no applicable law, then Bureaucrats in Chilruns Services appoint themselves Dictators to interpret laws that dont exist.

      The scam is that Rights are subverted in the name of Safety.

      Then the Good Cop (Legislature) pretends to be on the side of Right by moving a question of Natural Rights into the arena if Law where Rights are controlled and dispensed by the Courts.

      100% scam.

      Rights are not imparted by Law. That is Communism.

      1. “Rights are not imparted by Law. That is Communism.”

        You have exactly those rights that other people are prepared to extend to you, and no others. Regardless of whether you’re dealing with commies, good ol’ boys, or anyone else.

    4. ” Why did we allow so much freedom of our own to be traded in for the safety of our goddamn brats? Fuck ‘the kids.'”

      Fucking the kids is EXACTLY the sort of thing likely to bring you to the attention of law enforcement.

  12. Karens everywhere will be having meltdowns.

    1. That’s a feature. Not a bug.

      1. Nice feature!

        Can it be incorporated into more legislation?

    2. Oh- Oh.

      Karen Meltdowns generate a lot of Heat of Vaporization to release that much water vapor and B.S.

      That will contribute to Globull Warming. And EPA best get right on the toxic B.S. release.

  13. OH SNAP!!!

    Maybe if the Left wasnt a haunt for all kind of sexual predators, rapists and child molesters, this wouldnt be a problem!!


    (and a haunt of other Leftists defending rapists and child molesters…)

    1. If you think that all the rapists and child molesters are leftists, you have a serious case of partisan blindness.

  14. Way past time for this, end the liberal nanny state.

    1. “Way past time for this, end the liberal nanny state.”

      In TEXAS?

  15. And it spoke to an “expert”—the chief psychologist at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn—who said that “a seven-year-old shouldn’t be left alone in a backyard, much less a park.”

    Which just proves the old adage that an expert is someone who knows more and more about less and less, until he knows everything about nothing.

    1. The chief psychologist at Anywhere Medical Center is spending a lot of time with children who are in need of the services of a psychologist, and probably not very much time with children who do not. This is going to skew your view of children.

      1. A REAL scientist would note the issue of “data selection” at work there, and adjust for it in the interest of getting the best answer.

        In the case of the softer “sciences”, the guiding principle is whatever stance will increase the need for the expensive services provided by the practitioner.

        Maybe that’s too cynical. Maybe they’re just real stupid.

        1. “A REAL scientist would note the issue of “data selection” at work there, and adjust for it in the interest of getting the best answer.”

          That’s harder to do when you’re deep in the hole. See, e.g., opposition to the investigation of what happened on January 6. Mitch can’t come out and say “I’m afraid if we look too closely at this, it’ll make my party’s voters look bad”, even though it’s true.

  16. As a child I was given so much freedom that I’m convinced my parents wanted me to be abducted or killed in an accident.

  17. How is this a win for those kids who have freedom because they actually are being neglected?
    (The difference between allowing your kids to have freedom because they are responsible and capable and allowing your kids to have freedom because you can’t be bothered to teach them responsibility and capability.)

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  19. Free range kids AND forced pregnancy for all women. Good job, Texas.

    1. Uhh…”forced pregnancy”??

      I must’ve missed the news release on that one. Got a link?

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  21. Kids don’t have to stay at home on the range in Texas. Instead, parents can let them run outside and play. A law passed over the weekend states that parents can let their kids engage in normal childhood activities without being accused of neglect.

    This makes Texas the third state to affirm that children have the right to some unsupervised time, and parents have the right to give it to them without getting investigated. Utah passed the first so-called “Free-Range Kids” law in 2018. Oklahoma passed a similar law a few weeks ago, and the Texas bill became law on May 15. ونش رفع عفش بفيصل

  22. I for one applaud the chief psychologist at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn. Since there has been a lot of news about potential meteor impacts, I’m keeping my kids safe in our steel reinforced basement. There’s no need to let them out in the dangerous sunshine, whose rays cause cancer, when I can give them Vitamin D supplements in the basement. It’s enough risk for me, as a concerned and caring parent, to venture away from my computer to go to my front porch to get the groceries and sundries delivered to us by our Amazon saviors. Yep, safe and secure from ALL threats we are. While their little whimpers “let me out for just a little while, please please please…” break my heart, I know that safety with minimal possible risk from anything is the most important part of child raising.

    1. You almost sound as if you might be being sarcastic.

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