Free-range kids

Utah le­gal­izes com­mon-sense par­ent­ing

Las Vegas Review-Journal - - OPINION -

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.

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