Free-Range Parenting is Not Illegal, New Utah Law Affirms

Image Source: Deseret News (Rick Bowmer, AP)

Should I leave my child alone in the car or at home? Can I let them play at the park across from our house? Can they play a game of basketball in the street?

While we parents may have grown up doing these activities, our children live in a different society–one which is not necessarily more dangerous, but is certainly more suspicious. We have shared multiple stories on social media of instances where parents have gotten in trouble with social services because of their decisions to let their children play in the front yard, go to the park, or stay home alone.  

On March 16, Utah became the first state to formally recognize that parents are not considered neglectful just because they allow their child to play outdoors, walk to a nearby park, or remain home alone, in the right circumstances.

SB65, signed by Utah Governor, Gary Hebert, goes into effect on May 8. The new law states that neglect does not include: “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, including:

  • traveling to and from school, including by walking, running, or bicycling;
  • traveling to and from nearby commercial or recreational facilities;
  • engaging in outdoor play;
  • remaining in a vehicle unattended, except under the conditions described in 323 Subsection 76-10-2202(2);
  • remaining at home unattended; or
  • engaging in a similar independent activity.” ¹

Many proponents of the bill hail it as a legalization of “free-range” parenting, though none of these activities were ever “illegal” in Utah in the first place. The problem was that social services was treating these activities as illegal. Thankfully, this new law clarifies that these specific activities do not necessarily constitute neglect. 


Read the entire article here: “Utah governor signs law legalizing ‘free-range parenting’

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¹ Utah Code Ann. § 78A-6-105(35)(c)(iv), effective May 8, 2018. 

 

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