The Latest

THE LATEST

THE LATEST THINKING

THE LATEST THINKING

The opinions of THE LATEST’s guest contributors are their own.

I Guess I was One of the Free-Range Kid Pioneers

Jeff Campbell

Posted on April 15, 2018 08:35

1 user

I didn’t know we needed laws to let kids play outside. Maybe we have come a long way from when I was growing up.

I grew up in a small town in Virginia named Vienna. Now, it is just part of the mass of development called Northern Virginia, a group of suburbs bordering Washington D.C. Then, it was a town with a main street named Maple Avenue, and most of the homes were one-story ramblers. Our street and houses backed up to a creek and woods that had an old railroad line running through it.

I was not familiar with the term “free-range” except for chickens, but I guess the term accurately describes what it was like for us as kids in our neighborhood. We played touch football in the street, explored the woods, searching for relics along the train tracks and dared each other to go in one of the abandoned shacks along the rail bed.

We fished in the creek and played epic games of hide and seek that spanned across yard after yard, and across the creek and into the woods.

We walked downtown to the drug store if we had enough money for a soda. We rode bikes across town to the hobby store. We did all these things on our own, without direct supervision from our parents. We knew we had to be home before dark.

In fact, I was talking with my wife, who grew up in Maryland, and we both agreed that pretty much the only time we stayed indoors for any length of time is if we were in trouble and put on restriction.

Fast forward to today and the news that Utah has become the first state to legalize what is being called free-range parenting. The concept is to let your children play outside independently and explore their surroundings free of direct parental supervision or control over what exactly they decide to do, whether it be playing on the swings at a neighborhood park or playing kick ball.

Proponents say that this parenting style gives kids the freedom to explore, teaches independence, and ultimately results in the kids being happier and more resilient. Critics say that free-range parenting exposes the children to the risks of running into criminals or being hit by cars. They say that kids should stick to controlled planned activities like organized sports. But, doing anything in today’s world, including going to school is not necessarily safe.

Complicating matters is that authorities and psychologists caution that free-range parenting may be good for some kids and bad for others. But who is to make this determination? Is that not up to the parents?  That is the reason for the movement towards laws protecting free-range parenting, as currently parents risk law enforcement and child protective services coming down on them for something as simple as a child standing alone in their own driveway.

It is a balancing act, and there are valid arguments on both sides, but it just seems strange to have to pass laws protecting parent’s rights to let their children play outside.

Jeff Campbell

Posted on April 15, 2018 08:35

Comments

comments powered by Disqus
Source: ABC

VIDEO: Utah becomes 1st state to legalize so-called 'free range parenting'

THE LATEST THINKING

Video Site Tour

The Latest
The Latest

Subscribe to THE LATEST Newsletter.

The Latest
The Latest

Share this TLT through...

The Latest