Utah legalizes common-sense parenting
Nevada lawmakers don’t reconvene until next February, but let’s hope they were watching last week when Utah approved a measure that weakens the ever-encroaching Nanny State and allows parents to let kids be kids.
It may be hard for many millennials to fathom, but there was a time when children freely roamed their neighborhoods, waited at the bus stop unattended, came home from school to an empty house or even sat in the car while mom ran errands. Today, parents can be arrested for such “neglect.” No kidding.
But not anymore in the Beehive State. The Utah bill “explicitly recognizes “the right of parents to raise their kids without the threat of government intervention,” explains Lenore Skenazy at reason.com. “Imagine that: It will no longer be considered negligent to let your kid walk to school, play outside, come home with a latchkey or even, under certain circumstances, wait briefly in the car.”
Ms. Skenazy is the founder of the so-called “free-range” parenting movement. She gained attention 10 years ago when she wrote a column for the New York Daily News revealing that she let her 9-year-old son ride the subway by himself. She argued such freedom helped kids develop confidence and taught them to think and fend for themselves.
The reaction was derision and shock along with a smattering of applause.
Since then, Ms. Skenazy has become a high-profile advocate for decriminalizing parental behavior that was considered perfectly normal just a generation ago. She had an ally in Danielle Meitiv, a Maryland mother who three years ago made national news when she and her husband faced criminal charges after letting their children, ages 6 and 10, walk home alone from a nearby park.
“The fact that we need legislation for what was once considered common-sense parenting a generation ago and is considered normal in every other country in the world is what surprises me,” Ms. Meitiv told The New York Times. “I’m glad Utah has put these protections in place after what I discovered when I tried to parent the way I was parented.”
Critics blame the helicopter parenting trend with creating a nation of young people wholly unprepared to cope with the rigors of the real world. Ms. Skenazy aims to ensure that today’s parents are allowed to experiment with a more radical approach: freedom. She deserves a medal.
“Free-range parenting has captured America’s imagination because America has captured its kids,” she wrote this week for reason.com. “We have been locking them up at home, transporting them to supervised classes, and tracking them by text and GPS, all in the name of safety. We do this, even though the crime rate today is back to what it was when gas was 29 cents per gallon.”
The Utah statute is the first of its kind in the nation. Instead of looking to kooky California for legislative inspiration, Nevada lawmakers should follow the lead of our neighbor to the east and pass their own version of the Freerange Kids bill.
The views expressed above are those of the Las Vegas Review-journal. All other opinions expressed on the Opinion and Commentary pages are those of the individual artist or author indicated.