Idaho Lawmaker Introduced Free-Range Parenting Bill

Those of us who are part of Generation X remember walking to and from school, and riding a bike around the neighborhood, by ourselves. Today, some parents want to raise their kids the way they were raised – with plenty of freedom to explore and make their own decisions. Unfortunately, this can get parents into legal trouble when other parents report them for neglect.

Representative Ron Nate, an Idaho State Republican, has written a bill that would protect parents who want to give their children less supervision. It is called the Reasonable Childhood Independence Act.

“The intent of this is to help parents feel comfortable that they can let their kids grow up and experience life in an relatively independent way without the threat of being accused of being neglectful parents,” Representative Ron Nate said.

The bill would amend the definition of neglect. Under Representative Nate’s new definition, a neglected child is a child who is in an “obviously dangerous situation” due to “conscious disregard of obvious needs or obvious dangers” by parents or caretakers. The “action or omission” must result in bodily injury, a substantial risk of bodily injury, or immediate and grave harm. The law also takes into account the child’s level of maturity, physical condition, or mental abilities.

The bill states that no child will be considered neglected by engaging in independent activities. Those activities include (but are not limited to) unsupervised children traveling to and from school, playing outside, going to nearby businesses and recreational facilities, bicycling, remaining at home unattended and remaining in a vehicle unattended if the weather is not dangerously hot or cold.

One purpose of the bill is to protect parents who want to raise “free-range” children from having other parents call child protective services on them. It also gives kids the opportunity to grow into healthy, responsible, adults.

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