New Free-Range Parenting Law

Isabella Barraza

In Utah a new law was passed which allows children to freely walk wherever they would like without the accompaniment of their parent. The new law being passed was important because it was thought to be a strange idea to leave your children alone at a park. Now, with this new law, parents are allowed to leave their children alone with no consequences. Parents have already tried this method of giving their children independence but some parents faced consequences for doing so in their state.

 In 2015 two parents by the names of Danielle and Sasha Meitiv were charged with neglect because their two children, Rafi and Dvora, were found “roaming” around their neighborhood. Their parents dropped them off at the park and told them to be back home by 6 pm. The Montgomery County Police picked up the two kids after receiving a call from someone to check on both children. The police took the two kids to their station and to Children’s Protective Services where the two parents later picked them up. However, Danielle and Sasha were not notified where their children were until more than two hours after Rafi and Dvora were already safe with Children’s Protective Services. Danielle and Sasha had to sign a safety plan that made them agree to never leave their children unsupervised. Danielle had this to say about her children being left unattended again: “I’m not going to risk my kids being snatched again by CPS. If they had let our kids go home, they would have been in bed two hours ago.” Danielle and Sasha are both parents that follow the free-range parenting method and believe that children should be able to be more independent.

The laws and rules regarding leaving children alone are different among states. In Maryland, a child younger than 8 is not allowed to be left alone with someone who is younger than 13. In Virginia, there are guidelines that allow parents to decide whether or not their children can handle being alone. The guidelines only apply if the parents think that their child is ready to be left alone.  In Illinois the age is as high as 14 while in Kansas the age is as low as six years old. Although the age is not specified,  in Utah, it is similar to Virginia where the child is left alone based on their maturity age, according to FOX 13 Salt Lake City. The age is not specified because there could be children with disabilities that cannot be left alone which is the reason why parents are the ones allowed to set the age.

The new law in Utah would modify the definition of neglect. The original definition established neglect as “letting your kids play or walk to or from the park,” says the GOP State Senator, Lincoln Fillmore, but he added that the new definition is what “parents want to allow their children to do so they can start building the self-reliance, the independence, the problem-solving skills that they’re going to need as adults by practicing those in safe environments as children.” According to the NPR (National Public Radio), the state of Utah has become the first in the country to protect free-range parenting. The response to the bill being passed is overall positive and parents are happy about the new change.