U.S. SENATE PASSES FIRST EVER FREE-RANGE KIDS LEGISLATION, THANKS TO CLAUSE ADDED BY SEN. MIKE LEE

Sen.  Mike Lee (R, Utah) proposed  the first ever Free-Range Kids and Parents federal legislation, which was passed by the U.S. Senate yesterday.

That’s right: a Free-Range Kids clause made its way into the Every Child Achieves Act, a re-authorization of major federal law that governs funding and regulation of elementary education in the United States. The Free-Range portion would permit  kids to walk or ride their bikes to school at an age their parents deem appropriate, without threat of civil or criminal action.

This gives autonomy back to the parents when it comes to how much freedom we want to give our kids. It’s like the Free-Range Kids & Parents Bill of Rights proposed here a few months back, which states that our kids have the right to some unsupervised time and we have the right to give it to them without getting arrested.

Busybodies, beware! Your reign could be coming to an end. Just because you think a child is too young to be outside unsupervised doesn’t mean you will forever be able to summon authorities to investigate or arrest the parents.

If this had been the law of the land when the Meitivs allowed their kids to walk home by themselves in Maryland, it might have prevented the whole shebang. (Though, admittedly, the kids were walking home from the park, not school. Still.)

While right now the major threats to Free-Range parents are at the state and local level, Sen. Lee’s office told me in an email that  he had been looking for some way to get federal support for their rights.

Bully for him!

Now that Every Child Achieves has passed in the  Senate, the next step is for the House of Representatives and the Senate to hammer out any discrepancies between their respective bills before re-voting and sending the legislation to Pres. Obama.

That means Obama could sign actual Free-Range legislation into law.

In the end, Lee’s office told me in an email, “Senator Lee was unable to support the final version of the bill, but he was happy to see this amendment included.”

Over here the reaction is ecstatic. WOW. Here is the Free-Range section of the law:

SEC. 9116. RULE OF CONSTRUCTION REGARDING TRAVEL

TO AND FROM SCHOOL…

‘(a) IN GENERAL.—Subject to subsection (b), nothing in this Act shall authorize the Secretary to, or shall be construed to (1) prohibit a child from traveling to and from school on foot or by car, bus, or bike when the parents of the child have given permission; or (2) expose parents to civil or criminal charges for allowing their child to responsibly and safely travel to and from school by a means the parents believe is age appropriate….

“Notwithstanding subsection (a), nothing in this section 15 shall be construed to preempt State or local laws.’’

.

U.S. Senate passes law that would allow PARENTS to decide what age their kids can walk to school.

U.S. Senate passes law that would allow PARENTS to decide what age their kids can walk to school.

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69 Responses to U.S. SENATE PASSES FIRST EVER FREE-RANGE KIDS LEGISLATION, THANKS TO CLAUSE ADDED BY SEN. MIKE LEE

  1. Ted July 17, 2015 at 8:20 am #

    This just says that this particular federal law cannot be used to prevent a kid from walking or biking to school (or arriving to school by car or school bus) when the parent has given permission, and this particular federal law cannot expose parents to liability for letting their kids travel to school by whatever means the parents choose. This specifically says it does preempt state or local laws.

    So this doesn’t do anything to limit local or State prohibitions on walking or biking to school. It’s just making clear that this federal law cannot be interpreted to add federal restrictions.

    It’s great to see waking and biking to school included in parent choice provisions of federal education law. But this amendment wouldn’t be more than a moral victory, unless I’m missing something here.

  2. Elizabeth July 17, 2015 at 8:22 am #

    I’m curious how this impacts getting to and from the bus stop. I’ve read that for the purposes of things like following IEPs and 504s the bus is considered “school grounds”. But the buses are contracted by te schools to private companies. So would a parent be able to let his/her child not be met at the bus stop and walk home from the bus stop unaccompanied? Because my child’s school bus requires an adult be at te stop up to and including fourth grade and if the adult isn’t there they do not let the kid off the bus. I hope this new law would effect this because our bus stop is three houses away and my 2nd grader can walk home by himself for Pete’s sake!

  3. Rick July 17, 2015 at 8:23 am #

    Wow. A light at the end of the tunnel. Now all we need are state laws to make it a crime to call 911 for seeing kids playing, walking or shopping by themselves.

  4. Powers July 17, 2015 at 8:27 am #

    I agree with Ted’s interpretation of the provision. Congress has no business regulating this stuff anyway; that’s basic federalism.

  5. MichaelF July 17, 2015 at 8:30 am #

    Anything is a start.

    Now that “they” chipped away the rights most parents had to send their kids to school in a way thought right, now its time to start chipping away at the restrictions imposed. Sure its only to and from school, but you have to start somewhere, build some momentum and go from there.

    I’m happy to see anything that gives power back to the parents.

  6. Montreal Dad July 17, 2015 at 8:32 am #

    This is *so* AWESOME!

    Congratulations!

  7. Montreal Dad July 17, 2015 at 8:37 am #

    Regarding Ted’s reading, you have to look at the politics of it. The wording here can serve as a model to statutes passed at the state and local level.

    This is hugely useful to any lobbying campaign, especially if you can point to a model statute already on the books AT THE FEDERAL LEVEL.

    No state legislator can now hem and haw saying “well, I dunno, no statute like this has ever been passed anywhere” as a way of passing the buck on this kind of provision. There’s no model wording at the FEDERAL LEVEL.

    This is huge, huge, HUGE!

  8. MichaelF July 17, 2015 at 9:18 am #

    “Congress has no business regulating this stuff ”

    There is much you can say about what Congress shouldn’t regulate, but a moral victory is a moral victory.

  9. Havva July 17, 2015 at 9:19 am #

    Wow, legislative support! That is awesome news. The message really is getting out that “free-range parenting” is really just “parenting.”
    … I share Ted’s concern, though, and appreciate Montreal Dad’s perspective. I also wonder… it says it doesn’t preempt “State or local laws.” … But could it be used to preempt CPS/DCFS guidelines?

    Very few states have actual LAWS on the books. Most of the parents who have gotten into trouble, have violated ‘guidelines’ alone, and that has been used as an excuse to level the serious charges of neglect or abuse.

    We shall see how implementation goes. It could be ignored and do very little, or it could be quite a potent law. A major step in my area, was when the bicycling groups successfully lobbied the school board to take away the principals’ authority to determine how a child got to and from school, and put that authority back in the hands of parents.

  10. Emily Morris July 17, 2015 at 9:40 am #

    Cool and yay for Mike Lee. Now I can say I had a reason for voting for him. I like to think Utah still values some free-range ideas.

  11. Allison July 17, 2015 at 10:09 am #

    Elizabeth – I was about the ask the same thing. The bus stop is ONE house down and my son is going into FOURTH grade. I even asked the principle and she said he couldn’t get off the bus without an adult visible.

  12. Ben July 17, 2015 at 10:30 am #

    Even if the pre-emption clause makes the law not in force, once it passes, call the principal and tell him they have to let your kid walk home because of subsection a of sec 9116 of the … Act; tell him you’ll e-mail him the text and I doubt there’s any chance he’ll look it up to see if there’s a footnote that let’s him out of it.

  13. Warren July 17, 2015 at 10:56 am #

    What some of you are missing is that there has to be a state or local LAW, on the books.

    So Ben, that principal would need a state or local law to fall back on. He will not be allowed to just make his own rule.

  14. Papilio July 17, 2015 at 11:09 am #

    Wonderful. Now where’s the extra funding for Safe Routes to School? It doesn’t mean much to allow it without making it possible.

  15. SKL July 17, 2015 at 11:34 am #

    Well I’m not sure that changes anything directly, since it only applies to the reach of that particular law. But it might be an indication that the tide is turning.

  16. James Pollock July 17, 2015 at 11:39 am #

    “If this had been the law of the land when the Meitivs allowed their kids to walk home by themselves in Maryland, it might have prevented the whole shebang. ”

    By the text quoted, Sen. Lee’s amendment does no such thing. It is far, far more limited in effect (assuming this amendment survives reconciliation and is signed into law.) This amendment would prevent the Secretary of Education from adopting a requirement that schools that receive federal funding must have some kind of rules regarding travel to and from school. And that’s it. It doesn’t prevent the state from imposing a limit on 12-year-olds walking alone. It doesn’t prevent a local principal from setting up a requirement that students have an authorized “transportation plan” when being released from school.

    The proper level of government where FRK legislation should be sought is at the state level.

  17. ChicagoDad July 17, 2015 at 11:57 am #

    @Allison “he couldn’t get off the bus without an adult visible”
    Wow. How much aspirin do you have to take each day to keep your head from exploding?!

    I would be so very frustrated if I were in your position. How are you going to address it? Or are you going to just take your lumps and suffer through it?

    In our neighborhood (on the scary Southside no less!), 2nd grade seems to be the age when most people seem ok with having kids walk home from school, often in groups, sometimes not. Some parents wait longer. Your school’s principle would have a conniption fit if he visited my neighborhood at 3pm on a school day–kids everywhere, walking, sometimes a mile or so, oh the humanity! Won’t someone think of the insurance premiums!

  18. John July 17, 2015 at 12:04 pm #

    But James, couldn’t this amendment also give the Secretary of Education the power to demand that federal funding be denied to schools that trample on the rights of parents who allow their children to walk or ride their bikes to school? Now I’m not a Lawyer and perhaps I’m being a bit optimistic here but this bill, even if it’s at the federal level, could have some teeth for free range parents at the state level.

  19. Michelle July 17, 2015 at 12:09 pm #

    Lenore, do you have a link to the actual legislation? Because when I Googled it, the version I found on the Senate’s website had no section 9116.

  20. Andrea Drummond July 17, 2015 at 12:10 pm #

    This is terrific… while at the same time it’s pathetic there even NEEDS to be such a law. Who’d a thunk?

  21. James Pollock July 17, 2015 at 12:11 pm #

    “this bill, even if it’s at the federal level, could have some teeth for free range parents at the state level.”

    ““Notwithstanding subsection (a), nothing in this section 15 shall be construed to preempt State or local laws.’’

    So, section A limits the Secretary of Education’s authority to impose limits on parents’ transportation options, and section B explicitly prevents the Secretary of Education from overriding state or local laws on the subject. Since such laws are made at the state and local level, this is a pretty toothless provision. It’s good for a symbolic victory, but it doesn’t actually DO anything.

  22. Leon July 17, 2015 at 12:11 pm #

    Unfortunately, there is nothing in this paragraph that specifies kids can travel unaccompanied. I’m not an attorney but can definitely see a situation where this vague text is absolutely meaningless in a case most of us are envisioning.
    Nice to see a lawmaker throw the community a bone but this is just the beginning of a discussion, not any sort of recognition of parent’s rights as far as I can tell.

  23. Eric S July 17, 2015 at 12:45 pm #

    That’s awesome! But I think they need to be more specific. If it’s just “walking to school”, I can see agencies like the CPS to still charge parents if they let their kids walk to the PARK, or the store, or to a neighbor’s house a couple of blocks away.

    It should be:

    ‘(a) IN GENERAL.—Subject to subsection (b), nothing in this Act shall authorize the Secretary to, or shall be construed to (1) prohibit a child from traveling to and from LOCATIONS on foot or by car, bus, or bike when the parents of the child have given permission; or (2) expose parents to civil or criminal charges for allowing their child to responsibly and safely travel to and from parental approved LOCATIONS by a means the parents believe is age appropriate….

    I’m glad we are moving forward, by moving “backwards”. Looking forward to 70’s/80’s childhood for all kids today.

  24. Eric S July 17, 2015 at 12:48 pm #

    @Leon. I think the “vagueness” you mention helps as well. From what I got from that exert, it also doesn’t say anything about not travelling unsupervised. Only as long as the parents approve. Which could mean they also don’t need to be with them. It’s the “school” part that worries me. That’s specific. It doesn’t say anything about walking to the park or store close by.

  25. Dave July 17, 2015 at 12:56 pm #

    Mike Lee is the voice of reason, as usual. I think this language is more valuable than some of the other comments suggest. Yes, it is limited to this particular bill, but it also is a valuable indication of what the federal government intends when it comes to children traveling alone. If I, as a parent, were sued under some federal law for letting my kids walk to the park alone, I would point to this provision to argue that Congress does not intend to criminalize parents who give their children autonomy.

  26. Emily July 17, 2015 at 1:01 pm #

    This is a good start, but I don’t think the Free-Range Kids legislation should begin and end with allowing kids to walk or bike to and from school when their parents say they’re ready. I think the legislation should be amended to allow kids to traverse their neighbourhoods within the limits set forth by their parents. If it’s limited to just going to and from school, then technically, it’d be legal for a ten-year-old kid to walk a mile home from school on Friday afternoon, but verboten for that same child to, say, walk back to that same schoolyard on Saturday morning for soccer practice.

  27. Michelle July 17, 2015 at 1:04 pm #

    James, thank you for being a voice of reason. This amendment to proposed legislation literally does NOTHING. It does not give parents back any rights, it does not protect parental rights, it specifically and explicitly does not prevent the state and local governments from trampling parental rights. It does not force schools to have to point to an actual law in order to prevent kids from walking, and it doesn’t allow the federal government to deny schools any funds if they do prohibit walking.

    This is a “shout out,” pandering without actually making any changes, pure and simple.

  28. Michelle July 17, 2015 at 1:09 pm #

    PS, the reason it specifically talks about schools is because it’s an amendment to a federal education bill! In fact, it only says that THIS BILL doesn’t prohibit kids walking, biking, or being bussed or driven to school. It doesn’t even prevent the federal government from prosecuting you for letting your kid walk to school under a different law (although I’m not sure under what circumstances that would actually fall under federal jurisdiction, this bill wouldn’t prevent it).

  29. SteveS July 17, 2015 at 1:27 pm #

    The federal government doesn’t prosecute parents for letting kinds walk to school. What this does is prevent any future attempts by the feds to do so and would also prevent them from withholding money to states in regards to them not going after free range parents. Withholding funds is how they typically get states to comply.

    I see this as good legislation.

  30. Steve July 17, 2015 at 1:37 pm #

    Nothing to celebrate yet.

    Did you read this part?

    “…the next step is for the House of Representatives and the Senate to hammer out any discrepancies between their respective bills before re-voting and sending the legislation to Pres. Obama.

  31. Bridget July 17, 2015 at 1:38 pm #

    OH Mike. I am so proud of you. I had such high hopes for you because you were young and I expected so much. Thus far, I have not been impressed. GOOD for you!

  32. Sue Luttner July 17, 2015 at 2:09 pm #

    Gosh, one clause that encourages two movements I support, reducing traffic on school-commute corridors and fostering children’s independence. Symbolic of not, I like it.

  33. Reziac July 17, 2015 at 2:55 pm #

    Somewhat related:

    http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/47/4742.asp

  34. Havva July 17, 2015 at 3:04 pm #

    Gees people. Let’s not reject it because it is not everything we want, and it’s not law yet. It’s a start. We had to start somewhere. Let’s help get this passed. Anyone know how to find out who is doing the reconciliation between the house and senate bills?

    Also Sen. Mike Lee should get some serious thank yous for caring enough to take a stand and get that amendment added. Then ask him and your representatives in the house and senate to get something even better than that added to the next CAPTA Reauthorization Act.

    CAPTA is the The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act… the funding source for CPS, DCFS, SS, etc. Among other things (per Wikipedia) “CAPTA also sets forth a minimum definition of child abuse and neglect.” I think the time has come for CAPTA to start setting some limits as well.

    Most importantly, the CAPTA Reauthorization Act of 2010 was for FY 2011 to 2015. Google is not showing me a CAPTA Reauthorization Act of 2015 yet. So now may be a great time to start working on the addition of a provision like the Maryland instructions after the Meitiv incident saying that school age children walking or playing outside (absent evidence of harm or substantial risk of harm) is not sufficient cause for an investigation.

  35. TheOtherAnna July 17, 2015 at 3:17 pm #

    I guess there’s reason to be cautiously optimistic. This could always be used to restrict freedom as well. For example, somebody could interpret it as “It is only legal for Johnny to go straight home after school if he’s unaccompanied by an adult. No detours to a store, park, library, cafe, friend’s house, after school activity etc.” But maybe a home-schooling parent can say, the whole world is our school?

  36. James Pollock July 17, 2015 at 3:32 pm #

    “The federal government doesn’t prosecute parents for letting kinds walk to school. What this does is prevent any future attempts by the feds to do so ”

    It doesn’t even do that.

  37. Tsu Dho Nimh July 17, 2015 at 3:39 pm #

    Here’s the gotcha … “Notwithstanding subsection (a), nothing in this section 15 shall be construed to preempt State or local laws.’’

    So a state or town can pass ordinances saying that all children under the age of 18 have to be delivered to school by a parent and this law does nothing to stop that.

  38. Steve July 17, 2015 at 3:59 pm #

    Tsu Dho Nimh just said:

    Here’s the gotcha … “Notwithstanding subsection (a), nothing in this section 15 shall be construed to preempt State or local laws.’’

    So a state or town can pass ordinances saying that all children under the age of 18 have to be delivered to school by a parent and this law does nothing to stop that.

    ——————-

    That means this apparent “help” for Free Rangers is Worthless.

    Lenore, perhaps you could email the senator and ask how his Free Range Text would help anyone in light of this.

  39. Crystal July 17, 2015 at 5:37 pm #

    A journey of a thousand miles, and all that stuff. Way to go, Senator Lee!

  40. Jen July 17, 2015 at 5:53 pm #

    Ok, politics at play and I’m not holding my breath. However, I hope it stimulates conversation at the family dinner table and encourages people to think about what power they have delegated to others that they can reclaim within their family and their community. What about those children who are discovering how to learn well as natural scholars embedded in life? How about bringing it down even further to the community level? Looking forward to seeing more community level action where youth, parents, educators, and other community members come together to co-create a consciousness that expects to see kids out interacting with others and nature in their neighborhood. As Dr. David Blumenkrantz says, “It takes a whole child to raise a village.” Let’s “raise” our children (and our villages) in ways that nourishes life for all.

  41. Yocheved July 17, 2015 at 5:57 pm #

    When I was a kid, if you lived within a mile of the school, you were deemed fit to walk or bike to school. If you wanted the bus, you needed to fill out a letter of disability from your family doctor. Both of my parents worked, so my sister and I walked (and stopped at the candy store on the way home.)

    Once, a man pulled up and asked us to help him find his lost kitten. We told him that he needs to find an adult to help him, and he drove away.

    Somehow, we lived to tell the tale.

  42. CONTACT INFO July 17, 2015 at 9:19 pm #

    Hello, all,

    Hurray!

    Below is the link through which you can electronically contact Senator Lee’s office:

    http://www.lee.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact

    If you’re more traditional, you can use this:

    Senator Mike Lee
    361A Russell Senate Office Building
    Washington, D.C. 20510

    Or Call: 202-224-5444

  43. pentamom July 17, 2015 at 10:00 pm #

    “Lenore, perhaps you could email the senator and ask how his Free Range Text would help anyone in light of this.”

    As has been noted, it pre-empts any federal attempts to restrict these freedoms. If you don’t think this could happen on a regulatory basis, you haven’t been paying attention.

  44. Barry Lederman July 17, 2015 at 10:02 pm #

    GREAT NEWS!

  45. James Pollock July 17, 2015 at 11:53 pm #

    “As has been noted, it pre-empts any federal attempts to restrict these freedoms. ”

    No, it doesn’t actually do that.

  46. sexhysteria July 18, 2015 at 2:27 am #

    Good news but the war is far from over.

  47. George July 18, 2015 at 10:45 am #

    @Allison “I even asked the principle and she said he couldn’t get off the bus without an adult visible.”

    A general question to all those with kids in public schools where there are rules like this:

    Why not just instruct your child to get off the bus despite the prohibition? I hardly imagine that a bus driver would attempt to physically restrain a child, since that could pretty easily blow up. What are the reprocussions of practicing civil disobedience in this case?

    I’m reminded of Thomas Jefferon “If a law is unjust, a man is not only right to disobey it, he is obligated to do so.”

  48. SOA July 18, 2015 at 11:02 am #

    Good and Michelle Obama should love this since she is so big on kids being healthy. Walking or biking to school is healthy.
    I have run ins with our school about them not liking my kids walk to school in the morning and afternoon and this law would make them have to shut up about it. My friend was also harassed by her principal for walking her kids home every day instead of waiting in the car pick up line. She eventually gave up on that one because the principal kept harassing her about it.
    I don’t give up. I tell them I am walking deal with it.

  49. Allison July 18, 2015 at 11:25 am #

    @George, @ChicagoDad – The principal actually said it was the bus company that “wasn’t comfortable leaving a child without knowing an adult was present”. I’m pretty sure if he tried to get off the bus driver would just close the bus door and move on (remember, the door is controlled by a handle at the driver’s seat, not at the actual door itself). And he’s 8; there’s only so much civil disobedience I’d like him to engage in. 🙂

    I would love to stand up to it, but my husband – although he agrees with me in theory – isn’t as militant about FRK and doesn’t want to be the family that makes themselves the example. So we deal. I did have a minor triumph at camp when they let me write a note so I didn’t have to walk him in to sign him in every morning – because, you know, someone kidnapping him might bring him to camp.

  50. ChicagoDad July 18, 2015 at 1:30 pm #

    @SOA, it is so weird that the principal at your friend’s school would harass her about walking her kids home from school. If that were to happen to me, I think I would be stunned, speechless, jaw-dropped, “she can’t possibly be serious”, until it finally sunk into my thick skull that the principal is an idiot. I actually had to read your comment three times to make sure I hadn’t read it wrong! Bizarre. Is your friend’s school located in a Pyrex bubble at the bottom of a shark-infested bay? What a terrible location for an elementary school!

    @Allison, In that case, I’d recommend that you “Ferris Bueller” the bus driver. Pick up a used mannequin, dress it up like you, attach a small motor to make its arm waive, and put it outside facing the end of the block (you’re one house from the bus stop, right?).
    Or maybe one of these: http://www.originrobotics.com/#!products/c194u
    Do you think the bus company would have a problem with a robot meeting your son at the bus stop? If I were them, I wouldn’t want to make the robot angry.

  51. SOA July 18, 2015 at 1:57 pm #

    No, honestly we are the odd balls for walking our kids to school. Around here kids are always driven to school by parents and dropped off about 5 feet from the door. Parents do the getting there an hour before school is out to line up for pick up. Making your kids walk to school is almost unheard of. We don’t have sidewalks here and this is a very car culture we live in and so having kids walk anywhere is considered oddball. Other parents even bitch about us getting to “Cut the pick up line” because we walk.

  52. pentamom July 18, 2015 at 2:11 pm #

    James, how does it not?

  53. JP Merzetti July 18, 2015 at 2:53 pm #

    Well, I suppose this might be the front end of a lot of activity hopefully designed to finally and eventually bring people back to the common sense so many refuse to want to have anything to do with. But until legislation is ready to tackle seriously, the legal threats to free range kids and their parents (far more threatening in reality, than anything they are supposedley being protected from at the moment) any held breaths will be waiting to exhale for some time. One small step….

    And SOA.
    That’s just it. In car culture grown so horrifically in its dogma and ideologies, a pedestrian is an oddball.
    Actually, they’re not even that. They are infidels and apostats.
    We are joined at the soul to a car chassis. That’s just the way it is. True believers.
    No-one in their right mind would ever want to embrace a suburban design without the comfort, protection and holy sacremental communion of a vehicular Messiah’s fond automotive embrace. We just can’t really be saved from the stupidity of our suburban design any other way.
    Hey. I’ve walked suburban wastelands. I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with the car culture out there.
    But the end result? Lousy choices for getting around – and of course….especially for children. They don’t drive. They must be driven (and who cares if it’s around the bend?)

    I’ve never quite understood why so many don’t understand that cars are putrid choices for kids to spend their lives in. What’s up with that? Strapped in, plugged in, like astronauts.
    There is no – freedom – in that.
    And there never was.
    And there never will be.
    And how can the be-millioned masses of obviously true believers in (some kind of notion of freedom?) please lord, understand that?

    o hell. Did I go off-topic? I’m not sure I did……………….(Except I’m still left wondering – who out there really doesn’t want a kid to have the freedom to cross a distance for free?) No car payment, insurance premium, gas tank fillup………..

  54. ChicagoDad July 18, 2015 at 2:57 pm #

    @SOA, Someday, when little Martian colonists are getting ready for school, in an environment even less hospitable than the sidewalk-free hellscape you call home, do you think they’ll walk? Or get dropped off in mom’s Mars-buggy? 😉

    Or maybe there won’t be any permanent US Martian colonies until some ingenious Martian principal comes up with a policy to manage the pick-up line.

    SOA, it sounds like you are writing to us from some dystopian future! Or maybe I’m writing to you from some utopian past. Except, I bet your city is probably ranked as “a top city for raising families” by US News & World Report, and Spike Lee is filming “Chiraq” just 4 miles from my house.

  55. Anne July 18, 2015 at 3:42 pm #

    Well…look at this: How many of your free range parents who are too lazy to take out your kids could do this:

    http://www.buzzfeed.com/candacelowry/people-were-challenged-to-sit-in-a-hot-car-and-couldnt-even?bffb&utm_term=4ldqpgp#.gcGX9xVk2

  56. Warren July 18, 2015 at 5:08 pm #

    Anne,
    You can take your little video and stick it in a hot car!

    No one here has ever said to leave a child or pet in a HOT car. But get it through your thick skull………NOT EVERY CAR IS A HOT CAR!!!!!!!

    It is people like you and the idiots that made this video that are the problem. No common sense. For you extremists it is all or nothing. For you activists all parents are bad parents. It just isn’t so. And if you cannot see that, then you need serious help.

  57. ChicagoDad July 18, 2015 at 5:58 pm #

    We really need a better class of trolls. 🙁

    I think there is a misconception that Free Range Parents are lazy hippies that blithely let their kids loose on the world, consequences be damned. That may be true for some, but most of the “Free Range” parents I know are hard working, caring parents who believe in personal responsibility, reasonable (but not paranoid) safety measures, consequences, and discipline. Age-appropriate independence is something that children earn by demonstrating competence and responsibility.

    If you’ve heard Lenore speak, you’ve heard the great story she tells of buying fire extinguishers as baby shower gifts! Love it! It speaks to a legitimate concern about safety. Among the Free Range parents I know and respect, fads, trendy parenting and gossipy judgement (like “never leave a kid in the car, ever, in any circumstance”) are dismissed out of hand as nonsense.

    I consider myself a strict (and Free Range) parent who asks my children to be as responsible as their maturity allows. I want them to grow into capable, compassionate adults. I love and adore my kids, and I never want them to be harmed, but I know the best defense is to allow them to become resilient, with guidance, over time, as their ability allows.

    I am curious. How do the other FRK readers see themselves as parents?

  58. marie July 18, 2015 at 9:20 pm #

    Not even the Bill of Rights GIVES us our rights. Our rights are RECOGNIZED by the Bill of Rights. We have those rights simply by being human and the Constitution guarantees that.

    To pin our hopes and dreams on legislation to give us our rights as parents is folly. All it takes is the next administration to pass a different law and those rights are pfft.

    We HAVE the right as parents to make decisions for our children. What we need are laws preventing anyone from mucking with our rights. Instead of “parents have the right to…” we need legislation that says the Dept of Ed or the State or the schools cannot do this or that. We need parents to stand up to unreasonable principals and school boards. We need cops who like RIGHTS more than they like arrests. We need to defund CPS.

  59. Rina Lederman July 19, 2015 at 12:52 am #

    YAY!

  60. Donald July 19, 2015 at 2:50 am #

    “Gees people. Let’s not reject it because it is not everything we want”

    It’s a start. Actually it’s more than that. Many law changes are on their way.

    Congratulations Lenore! I’m sorry that so many people want to piss on your triumph.

  61. Michelle July 19, 2015 at 1:20 pm #

    @pentmamom, all this amendment does is state that nothing in THIS BILL makes walking / biking / driving / bussing illegal.

    Imagine this:

    Federal Law A makes walking illegal.
    Federal Law B says “…nothing in this Act shall authorize the Secretary to, or shall be construed to (1) prohibit a child from traveling to and from school on foot…”

    In this scenario, Law B literally does nothing, and walking is still illegal because of Law A.

    In real life, this amendment does nothing but clarify that this particular bill will not prohibit any particular mode of transportation. It doesn’t preclude OTHER federal laws from prohibiting them, and explicitly doesn’t override state and local laws. It doesn’t even actively support walking or biking.

    It’s not a matter of “doesn’t give us everything we want.” It’s a matter of trying to get brownie points (and votes) by pretending to care about us while literally doing nothing. The senator who proposed it isn’t even voting for this bill anyway!

  62. Michelle July 19, 2015 at 1:21 pm #

    It’s not a start. At best, it does nothing. At worst, it makes us look like easily manipulated fools.

  63. Michelle July 19, 2015 at 1:32 pm #

    @Allison “I even asked the principle and she said he couldn’t get off the bus without an adult visible.”

    A general question to all those with kids in public schools where there are rules like this:

    Why not just instruct your child to get off the bus despite the prohibition? I hardly imagine that a bus driver would attempt to physically restrain a child, since that could pretty easily blow up. What are the reprocussions of practicing civil disobedience in this case?

    I’m reminded of Thomas Jefferon “If a law is unjust, a man is not only right to disobey it, he is obligated to do so.”

    My neighbor went through this a couple of years ago. If there was not an ADULT standing at the bus stop, the driver didn’t even stop the bus. No possibility for a kid to just get off. Kid got dropped off at the police station, and her mom had to pick her up there. (And I know the bus didn’t stop, because my teenaged daughter was there trying to stand in for the neighbor.)

    I found out recently that things have changed. I wasn’t aware because my kids are homeschooled, but apparently our district has begun actively encouraging kids to walk home. Yay!

  64. SKL July 19, 2015 at 1:43 pm #

    Thank goodness our district only restricts KG kids from getting off the bus without an adult around. I assume that is more for their protection – imagine the fuss some parents would make if they weren’t home and their precious snowflake had to sit on the porch for a while.

    My then-7yo did have to argue with the bus driver on the first day, that despite being under 4′ tall, she was in fact a 3rd grader and not a Kindergartener. If she had not been dropped off, I would have been furious.

    We do have a guideline that kids under 10 should “never” cross a street alone. I ignore it.

  65. Papilio July 19, 2015 at 6:03 pm #

    @JP Merzetti: Which is why I keep bringing up cycle infrastructure.

  66. Donald July 19, 2015 at 6:33 pm #

    The Free Range Movement is growing. Even parenting magazines are writing articles encouraging parents to allow children to develop self reliance even if this means getting muddy or taking risks! We even have an insurance company that advertises/encouraging you to take some risks. That’s so out of character that it’s like the Pope preaching Hindu!

    Things are changing and will continue to do so. We are seeing changes world wide. The momentum will continue and further changes are ahead. No doubt about it.

    When Lenore pointed out how changes are starting to be seen in legislation’ we have two choices.

    1. We can say, “Congratulations Lenore! You’re a great freedom fighter. Thank you for your hard work at defending our rights. This legislative change is small. However if the momentum that we have seen in the last 15 years will continue, this will be a catalyst for many more changes in legislation. Well done!”

    or

    2. We can say, “So what! This doesn’t mean anything! It doesn’t go far enough.”

    Some people are compelled to point out anything negative that they can. The population that do this is so huge that it’s an epidemic! That’s why we have so many people that call 911 if they see a 10 year old child in a car for even a minute. It’s not so much that they’re concerned about safety. (they may be but it’s still secondary) The main reason is so they can feel superior. They can lift themselves up by pushing others down.

  67. Papilio July 20, 2015 at 11:53 am #

    @Donald: Or we can be realistic and acknowledge it’s a step forward but not exactly a giant leap for mankind.

  68. Jon Pol July 23, 2015 at 10:47 pm #

    In the first place, It should never happened that someone is arrested for letting his kid to walk alone at any age.
    Let’s hope that municipality lords will not find the way to “anihalate’ the effect of that wise Law that confirms kids freedom in walking.

  69. Kelly July 24, 2015 at 8:44 pm #

    Isn’t it mind boggling that this type of bill would even have to be thought about? I don’t think it goes far enough.There needs to be more protection for parents who disagree with current child raising theory of ‘guiding’ there every moment.
    I will say this as well, not only is it good for the child to play without parents hovering over and by them, it’s good for the parents to ‘play’ without the kids. This doesn’t mean we’re completely unaware of them, and not keeping an eye on them, it means we’re not hovering over their every move and thought. It means we allow ourselves some moments of relative quiet.
    I was a free range child (of the 60’s & 70’s), and I was a free range mom of the 80’s and 90’s – although by then it was getting dicey. We didn’t think about it as a label or a parenting style, every Mom was pointing to the door and telling us to go play and every kid was out there. We still got away with nothing. To my amusement, one of my own children, father of 4 ranging from 14 to 3 months, espouses free range parenting, and points out he was and he still functions.
    There’s a difference between free range, and neglect.