Kids running errands by themselves or going to the park in pairs-these activities are unthinkable for some parents. Free-range parenting has been in the hot seat even before the term was coined. But awareness of the years and the rise of free-range parenting law offer a cushion between free-range parenting and neglect.
Free-Range Parenting Law in Utah
Utah was the first state to implement the free-range parenting law. What they did was clearly define what neglect is not. Parents who allow children to engage in activities that encourage self-reliance and independence cannot be called upon for negligence. The free-range parenting law in Utah does not specify the age at which a child can be left alone.
A Lesson from Parenting in Japan
A popular TV show in Japan called "My First Errand" captures the activities of 2-and-3-year-olds out on their first errand for the family. It could be buying a carton of milk or bread. The toddlers are raised to be independent at a very young age.
It is not uncommon for children ages 6 and 7 years old to take the train independently. They frequently take on errands by themselves, too. Bloomberg calls it a culture of social trust rather than self-reliance, which makes this possible.
Free-Range Parenting Bill in Idaho
Republican Representative Ron Nate of Rexburg wrote what is now dubbed the free-range parenting bill. But the title is really "Reasonable Childhood Independence," which takes a cue from the free-range parenting law in Utah. Note that Rep. Nate's hometown is in Utah.
The bill is set to make its way through the Idaho Statehouse after the House State of Affairs Committee voted to introduce the bill, KTVB reported.
The Purpose of the Bill
First, there are loopholes in the definition of neglect that the bill wanted to address. Free-range parents fear being accused or charged of being neglectful. The bill also respects the parenting style that can result in the making of good adults out of kids who learned independence from childhood.
Representative Nate clarified that the bill is not made to protect parents. Instead, the bill is expected to allow kids to learn and grow into responsible and productive society members. The bill can potentially help create better, independent critical thinkers.
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Free-Range Parenting Bill Redefines Neglect
What is a neglected child? This question is what the free-range parenting bill in Idaho clarifies. Representative Nate wrote that neglect is in the form of a child left in an obviously dangerous situation because of a parent or caretaker's conscious disregard of the apparent dangers and needs.
Further, the action of neglect must result in a substantial risk of grave harm or bodily injury. Free-range parents are encouraged to consider the child's level of maturity instead of age when using discretion. The child's physical condition at the time of the activity and his mental abilities are also deciding factors that account for the child's safety.
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