The state of Utah recently passed a law colloquially referred to as the "free range parenting law." The bill was introduced in January by Utah State Senator Fillmore. What the law actually does is change the definition of child neglect. Overall, the bill permits parents to allow children to act independently if their age and maturity level justifies it.
Specific Activities Permitted Under the Law
The new law, which went into effect on May 8th, gives parents the freedom to allow their children to roam independently. Some scenarios that will fall under the umbrella of the law include allowing children to play outside unsupervised, or to walk to and from school. Children can also be left alone in a parked vehicle when parents need to run an errand.
Of course, some of these activities can still be considered neglect under certain circumstances. If it is clear a child cannot handle the responsibility imposed by the parent, or the activity itself is unreasonably dangerous the authorities may still initiate an investigation. However, the law gives parents a lot of leeway to decide how their children live their lives.
The Purpose Behind the Law
Many government officials believe the law restores parenting powers and will prevent nuisance calls to police agencies. Parents can now decide whether their children are mature enough to handle certain situations based on their personal experience. The law supports parents in their decision making process and allows children to develop independent functioning skills. It also prevents parents from fearing reprimand from government agencies when making parenting decisions.
Furthermore, the law is expected to free up law enforcement resources. Police will not need to respond to call about young children walking home alone from school. Under the previous version of the law, this type of activity may have been considered neglect. Now, police can utilize their resources to go after verified cases of abuse and neglect instead of dealing with situations that pose no danger.
If you need assistance understanding this new family law, contact the law firm of Spencer and Jensen, PLLC. Find out if your parenting style is in accordance with the purview of the new law.