Our neighbors in Utah have legalized what's been nicknamed "free range" parenting, further defining what constitutes neglect.  Now, some are asking if Idaho should do the same. 

The idea stemmed from what some parents have said has become a gray area, where allowing kids to play alone in a park or walk to and from school alone has become seen, at least by some, as neglectful.

The new legislation in Utah, signed into law by the governor last week, will take effect in the next couple months.  Supporters in Utah say several other states will soon have similar proposals moving through their governmental systems.

The idea of “free range” parenting, came from the case of Danielle Meitiv from Maryland, who gained national attention three years ago when she and her husband were charged with neglect for allowing their two children (who were 6 and 10 at the time), to walk home from a park on their own.

The new law in Utah will clearly define what qualifies as child neglect.  It clearly specifies that “permitting a child, whose basic needs are met and who is of sufficient age and maturity to avoid harm or unreasonable risk of harm, to engage in independent activities.”  That would include going to and from school, playing outside, and even traveling to local businesses.

Most supporters say this is most profoundly a return to protecting parents individual choices for what their children are ready to do independently, and to avoid calls to authorities and nuisance issues.

You can find out more about the movement and the Utah process from the New York Times.

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