Utah’s ‘free-range parenting’ law allows kids to be unsupervised in more activities

A child goes sledding in Kensington Park in Vancouver, British Columbia, on February 24. In Utah, a law will go into effect that allows parents to let their children play outside unattended without fearing prosecution. Photo by Heinz Ruckemann/UPI

March 28 (UPI) — Utah became the first state in the country to legalize “free-range parenting,” which will allow children to do certain activities without parental supervision.

The bill, signed by Utah. Gov. Gary Herbert earlier this month, redefines “neglect” so that parents won’t be guilty of a crime for allowing their kids to “learn the skills of self-reliance and problem-solving they’ll need as adults,” Utah state Sen. Lincoln Fillmore, a sponsor of the bill, said in a statement to ABC News.

“As a society, we’ve become too hyper about ‘protecting’ kids and then end up sheltering them from the experiences that we took for granted as we were kids,” Fillmore said. “I sponsored SB 65 so that parents wouldn’t be punished for letting their kids experience childhood.”

Some of the practices children will be allowed to do unattended will include traveling to and from school; traveling to and from nearby commercial or recreational facilities; playing outside; remaining in a vehicle unattended except under extreme circumstances; and remaining at home unattended.

The bill passed Utah’s House and Senate unanimously before it arrived on Herbert’s desk earlier this month.

Utah state Rep. Brad Daw told the Salt Lake City Tribune he was in favor of the bill because other states were prosecuting parents “for doing nothing more than allowing a child to play outside or go to the park.”

“It hasn’t happened in this state, and this bill seeks to ensure it never will,” Daw said.


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