Cool Idea: Free-Range Kid Bracelets


Here’s arrasybdrs
an idea I wish I thought of …and sort of did: Bracelets kids can wear that explain they are ALLOWED to be outside, they are FREE-RANGE KIDS!

They were created by a reader named Pat who was inspired by the Free-Range Kids membership card on the side of my blog (which, in itself, was inspired by a letter TO this blog), but I think they are better, because they ‘re so easy for kids to wear.

I do worry that they cost about $10 each, but Pat agreed to put $2 each toward maintenance of my site (monthly bills I pay to host the blog, the app, and, as well as to SurveyMonkey, which I use for surveys at the schools that do the Free-Range Kids Project). So all in all, this seems good to me. Hence, the ad you will now find on the right hand side of the blog.

Here’s the note from Pat explaining her brainstorm. – L.

Dear Ms. Skenazy: I’m 44 yr old, stay at home wife and mother of 2, who believes in community, good morals, and kids having the range of freedoms we did.

My son and daughter are both very active children: sports, exploring, climbing, etc. and were consistently losing the ID cards stating they are Free-Range Kids. I needed something that was less likely to get lost and ripped. I came up with the idea and  made each of them a bracelet instead. They not only love them because they are easy and they don’t have to think about “not losing them,”their friends think they’re pretty cool too. The bracelets have come in handy for my kids in explaining where I am (usually not in sight) and to school supervision that it’s OK they walk home alone, I’m not coming to pick them up. After feedback from other parents and children in our community  from their own experiences with the bracelets and encouragement to offer these to all Free-Range parents, we decided to do just that. We are very appreciative of your help and proud to be supporting Free-Range Kids.

Patricia McCaffrey
The bracelet lady


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38 Responses to Cool Idea: Free-Range Kid Bracelets

  1. Barry Lederman June 7, 2015 at 12:50 am #

    I love it! I just ordered two bracelets for my kids. How cool?!

  2. Kate June 7, 2015 at 8:10 am #

    I do wish we could get away from the whole pink for girls, blue for boys nonsense though.

  3. Crystal June 7, 2015 at 8:28 am #

    I will be ordering soon!

  4. What, even? June 7, 2015 at 8:34 am #

    Yup, looks good.

    Though I will feel amused when helicoptered teen realises she can buy that with her allowance and will be amused by the reaction. 😀

  5. Jill June 7, 2015 at 9:25 am #

    They look cool and the idea is good, in concept, at least. (I’m not a fan of pink for girls, blue for boys, but whut evvuh.)
    However, will these prevent the nosy person who sees kids (gasp!) walking alone or playing somewhere without adult supervision from alerting the gendarmes? And once the gendarmes arrive on the scene, will they go away without alerting CPS and arresting somebody? I’d be curious to know what the police think of this. Are Free Range Kids bracelets adequate reassurance that all is well and they should get back into their cruiser and go get doughnuts?

  6. Emily June 7, 2015 at 9:56 am #

    @Jill–I had the same thought about pink for girls and blue for boys. I know boys can wear pink bracelets, and girls can wear blue, but it’d be nice to see the Free Range Kids bracelets in other colours. Maybe that can happen if the existing bracelets are popular. Or, maybe it’d be a better idea to go in the other direction, and make all the bracelets the same colour, so they’re uniform, and people can easily recognize them as Free Range Kids bracelets. I think green would be a good idea, because they could symbolize the fact that the child’s parents have given him or her the “green light” to be outside in the world, where there are, coincidentally, “green spaces” to play in. There’s a chance that they could get mixed up with the green swim bands that some pools hand out to kids who’ve passed the swimming test for the deep end, so maybe a different shade of green would be better; like maybe fluorescent green instead of “true green.” The fluorescent green would have the added bonus of contrasting well with the black text, making the Free Range Kids bracelets even more easily recognizable as such.

  7. Jill June 7, 2015 at 10:26 am #

    @Emily Leaf green! Yes, that’s brilliant! People identify various causes with their assigned colors: pink for breast cancer awareness, yellow for the Livestrong program’s cancer awareness in general. Green would be great for Free Range Kids.
    (I have a black bracelet that identifies me as a taphophile because I totally am one.)

  8. ChicagoDad June 7, 2015 at 10:48 am #

    Awesome! And kudos to Pat for coming up with a great idea and making it happen. That is so admirable!

    Here’s a suggestion for Jill and anyone else who buys a bracelet and is worried about experiencing what the Meitivs went through: have the phone number for your family’s attorney engraved on the inside of the metal band of the bracelet.

  9. Emily June 7, 2015 at 11:03 am #

    Thanks, Jill. I also forgot to mention, green is gender-neutral, so it eliminates the implied “pink for girls, blue for boys” gender divide, which would mean that a green bracelet could be handed down to a younger child of either gender, or borrowed by a sibling or friend of either gender, without any “but pink is a GIIIIIIRL COLOUR!!!!!” push-back–and that’s just with cisgender children, not even touching the fact that some people in this world don’t fit neatly into the tidy little boxes of “male” and “female.” Also, it’d probably be cheaper to make a big batch of green bracelets than two smaller batches of pink and blue bracelets (once the pink and blue ones run out, of course), and knowing Lenore, she’d pass the savings on to the consumer.

    This just brings up one more question, though–is there an implied age cut-off, at which point young people (without special needs) would no longer need Free Range Kids bracelets for it to be socially acceptable for them to be out and about without an adult? Where is that cut-off? Maybe twelve years old? High school? Is it different for late bloomers who easily mistaken as being younger, regardless of maturity level? I mean, the bracelets are a great idea and all, but with minimum ages for basic childhood rites of passage rising all the time, I’m afraid we’re heading towards a society where kids wear their bracelets from the age of four or five years old, until they arrive for college or university orientation, and trade those Free Range Kids bracelets for frosh bracelets, student cards, and a life where their parents are miles away. Don’t get me wrong; this is a much better transition than the one society seems to favour now; from near-constant supervision to almost NO supervision, but it’s still a rather stark transition, because with the bracelets, it’d go from “have to prove I’m allowed to be out on my own” to “ALWAYS on my own.” Or, more simply, it’d go directly from “free range KID” to “independent ADULT,” when in reality, there’s a huge spectrum in between.

  10. dancing on thin ice June 7, 2015 at 11:42 am #

    Ooh, let’s try a bit of worst-first thinking on this.

    What about allergies or will those with latex allergies be wearing an awareness bracelet for that?

  11. Emily June 7, 2015 at 12:31 pm #

    @Dancing On Thin Ice–I think the bracelets are a good idea; I was just afraid that they’d promote a culture of “need documented permission to be out in the world until the age of eighteen.” I mean, I’d say I’m one of the first generation of bubble-wrapped kids. When I was a child, kids played outside, walked to and from school, et cetera, without an adult, and my parents were on the stricter end of the spectrum, because they were always reading newspaper articles about sex offenders. Back then, and before that, it was normal for kids to play freely, and walked or biked to where they needed to go, when possible. If something went wrong, kids were taught to look for a Block Parent sign, and go to that house for help, whether “help” meant a Band-Aid for a scraped knee, or “Someone tried to lure me into his white pedo van.” So, the bracelets wouldn’t have been necessary back then. I’m glad that they exist now, but I’m afraid they’re going to become NECESSARY now, and calling the police because a child is playing outside without an adult, might give way to calling the police because a child is playing outside without an adult or a bracelet, when said bracelet might have been forgotten, or lost in the deep end of the swimming pool, or covered by a long sleeve, especially in the winter. I’m afraid that the bracelets might entitle adults to walk up to strange kids and demand, “where’s your bracelet?” even of the “kids” in question are teenagers. I think the bracelets are a good idea, because they at least give parents a tool to show that their kids are allowed to be out and about, but at the same time, they also imply that parents have to defend their parenting choices to the whole world. Besides, I don’t think these bracelets would stop a true busybody. Suppose you had a six-year-old kid who was physically small, and looked more like four, but was very mature. So, one day, Six is playing in the park across the street from your house, while you glance up from the window every few minutes. The next thing you know, you’re in trouble with the police, because some busybody figured that you were a BAD PARENT for allowing Six to go to the park alone, and that putting a Free Range Kids bracelet on a kid “so young” was NEGLIGENT.

  12. Ann Luecking June 7, 2015 at 12:35 pm #

    I run a large co-op and I would love to order these with my group. Would be able to get discounts based on how many ordered? Can someone please contact me to discuss?

  13. Helen June 7, 2015 at 1:37 pm #

    I’m sorry to be Debbie Downer on this idea that so many people seem to be embracing, but I just can’t get behind this idea. I thought the purpose of the free-range parent movement was to bring back normal childhood – for all kids. If we need kids to be easily identified as free-range, we’ve kinda given into the idea that we are losing the battle. It creates kids who are allowed to be out vs. kids who are not. Also, I don’t really like labels – I parent my child according to what I feel to be right for our situation and while I lean very, very strongly towards free-range ideals, I don’t feel like I need to make my child wear one of these bracelets to advertise my beliefs in parenting anymore than I wear something to convey to all and sundry at a glance what my political or religious beliefs are. These bracelets make our parenting choices someone else’s business as soon as they are spotted, rather than if they become necessary.

  14. caiti June 7, 2015 at 2:07 pm #

    @Emily this sounds like worst first thinking to me. I would imagine if the bracelets became ubiquitous enough that people recognize them immediately, we wouldn’t have the problem of people freaking out at the sight of an unaccompanied child anymore. At that point the bands will become superfluous.

  15. caiti June 7, 2015 at 2:11 pm #

    @Helen while I totally understand where you’re coming from, I think the bracelets are a way for kids to explain that their parents know where they are if a worried adult approaches them. They are not meant to be immediate identifiers- that’s why they come in more than one color. It simply expand on the idea of the free range card by turning it into something that is less easily forgotten.

  16. Michelle June 7, 2015 at 2:17 pm #

    I can’t imagine bracelets ever becoming mandatory. I think there are two kinds of people who would get involved after seeing a child (not in distress or needing help) playing outside alone. First, the ones who are convinced it’s not safe, and can’t be convinced otherwise – the kind who wouldn’t be appeased by a FRK bracelet anyway, but would just decide you’re a terrible parent for subscribing to such an idea.

    Then there are those who assume it’s unsafe for kids to be out alone, but are open to the idea that it’s not. For that person, a bracelet or a card or a shirt will get them to stop and think, and hopefully realize that it’s ok for kids to be out alone. Still, the bracelet isn’t some kind of proof or license, but a reassurance for people with good intentions.

    My kids carry homeschool ID cards for a similar reason – in case someone wants to know why they aren’t in school during the day. In that situation it would even make sense for such IDs to become expected, but they’re still not around here. I don’t think anyone has ever asked to see it.

    Emily, you talk about a distinct line between kids living at home and adults in college, but I don’t think there could ever be such a line, just because people in general are so terrible at guessing ages. How many people could look at a group of high schoolers and college students and sort out which is which?

  17. Jill June 7, 2015 at 3:43 pm #

    @Chicago Dad Thanks for the suggestion, but my child is grown and I’m married to my family’s attorney.
    I won’t be purchasing a bracelet, but I think it’s essentially a good idea.

  18. Travis June 7, 2015 at 4:31 pm #

    I do like the idea. Like @Michelle, I also don’t think bracelets will become mandatory, or even a true ID that other parents and the police can identify before meddling on the child’t play. Because it’s a bracelet, you know? It’s not rare for kids to wear bracelets, and it may even be lost between the others he’s wearing until he points to it, by which time it may already be ‘too late’, by which I mean a busybody from inside a house could have already called the police on my kid.

    I do like the idea that they work like permission slips, though. It’s not very different from the ID card that Lenore had thought of in that sense, precisely because of what I already wrote. It doesn’t identify them, they simply have to show it (pointing to it for the stranger or pulling up a sleeve in winter), just like they would show the ID card. The point is that it would be harder to lose, not that it would work to Identify the kids as free-range from afar.

    It’s more of a “You can’t be here, where are your parents?” with the reply “Yes, I can! Look, I have permission!” And they show the bracelet or ID card than a “You can’t be here, where are your parents?” followed by “I have permission!” and the adult in question going “I don’t think you do, I’m calling the cops.” situation.

    Granted, you may still get calls from the police or have your kid driven home because it’s still ‘not allowed’ for kids “this young” to outside. But the IDs might diminish the probability.

  19. Rainey Daye June 7, 2015 at 6:01 pm #

    I think I will wait on these…first cause my son is still on the young side to be free-range yet (not quite six and with a life-threatening food allergy that he is still learning to advocate for himself about) and my just-turned-two baby girl has a ways to go yet before she can be …but also, like others have said, I want to get away from the pink and blue gendered colors. If there are green bracelets by the time my kiddos are free-ranging then I like the idea. 😀

  20. Rina Lederman June 7, 2015 at 7:22 pm #

    whoever said that you cant order blue for your daughter or pink for your son? no one, that’s who. its great for sisters one gets pink and one gets blue (those are my two favorite colors) so you know whos is who.

  21. Barry Lederman June 7, 2015 at 9:14 pm #

    I do not know if the bracelets will have any legal standing, nor if they will deter annoying do gooders, busy bodies, etc.

    What I do know is what Lenore Skenazy did for our family. Till we heard of Lenore, we thought we were the only freaks who let our kids go out and about, or for that matter stay home by themselves. We were living in fear, or at least anxiety of cps snatching our kids.

    All this changed when I heard Lenore on the Glenn Beck radio show. I discovered that there were many families who felt and operated like us. After reading Lenore’s book and this blog we no longer feel like freaks – we feel like free rangers.

    The bracelets represent that feeling of pride and positivity. It may or may not have any affect on anyone else; but it will have an effect on us. We are cool. We have fun. WE ARE PROUD FREE RANGERS!!

  22. chris canada June 7, 2015 at 9:29 pm #

    Excellent, and don’t forget the free-range bumper stickers, for when the parent is in a store for FIVE minutes!

  23. Buffy June 7, 2015 at 9:45 pm #

    Speaking of worst-first thinking….complaints about the color? Worries about making them mandatory? Come ON, people!!

  24. hineata June 7, 2015 at 10:29 pm #

    Come on people, bracelets are dangerous! They could snag while the kid is sliding, and leave them dangling in a dangerous position, holding them still long enough for predators to tear their arms off and take them deep underwater, consuming them as they travel.

    Or am I mixing my movies? 🙂

  25. Warren June 8, 2015 at 1:22 am #

    Can we offer the option of having our attorney’s name and number printed on the bracelets, for the authorities to call?

    My oldest, the teacher, made a suggestion. She said we should put some voice recordings on our kids phone or other piece of tech, that they can play when confronted by the authorities when out playing.

    “What law have I broken?”
    “Am I being detained?”
    “My home phone number is 555-1234.”
    “My parent’s attorney is John Smith, and his number is 555-4321.”

  26. caiti June 8, 2015 at 1:36 am #

    @barry- I’m with you! Before I knew about FRK I didn’t have a short, general explanation of my approach to parenting. All I knew was that from the moment my boy was born, I had gut feelings and instincts that informed my parenting (like before he crawled, instead of giving him every toy he reached for, I encouraged him to figure out how to grab for it himself so he would learn that he wasn’t a helpless creature). Somehow I knew this wasn’t quite mainstream but I really had trouble explaining my approach to others, partly due to the effects of post partum I think. So I was a little embarrassed about it and afraid people would think I was an awful mother. (I mean, can’t I see my cute precious baby wants his toy and I’m denying him? )Seeing Lenore’s blog was like a lightbulb moment- I saw my beliefs mirrored and articulated and discussed among other parents who saw themselves as purposefully working themselves out of a job because they expected their children to be self sufficient at 18. (See? Now I can articulate it!) Now I’m proud of it and frequently nudge others to rethink their assumptions about the real dangers to kids. So to wrap this up, even if I had no kids to give a bracelet to, I’d still order a few as a way to support Lenore and the work she does, and as a small thank you.

  27. caiti June 8, 2015 at 1:37 am #

    @Warren Great idea!

  28. Christina June 8, 2015 at 8:41 am #

    Get rid of the pink/blue and I might go for it – although I’m probably more likely to tell my kids that if they want to be able to roam, they need to keep track of the card.

  29. Yocheved June 8, 2015 at 1:19 pm #

    Oy, I can hear it now. “The colors are so bright, it will catch the attention of predators! The perverts will then know which kids are unattended, and it will make them easier to kidnap!”

    *bangs head on wall*

  30. Barry Lederman June 8, 2015 at 11:12 pm #

    caiti, I feel ya’ 100% I was nodding at each point as I read your post. It was like it could have been me writing that post. Thanks to FRK I see that there are wonderful parents such as yourself, who want the same free range independence for their kids that I want for mine.

  31. Scott June 9, 2015 at 12:57 am #

    If were going to talk color here, and I like the idea of green, then use the same shade as the National Safety Council Green Cross symbol. Green = safety!

  32. sexhysteria June 9, 2015 at 1:57 am #

    Great idea, but can you only pay through paypal? (PP tried to censor my eBook “Real Child Safety” and held my account balance for six months without any explanation, as PP has done to many other customers.)

  33. Vicki Bradley June 9, 2015 at 9:06 am #

    No one said you have to buy the pink for a girl, and blue for a boy. Great idea!

  34. KittyKat June 9, 2015 at 11:34 am #

    Hey guys I can read what it says

  35. Papilio June 9, 2015 at 12:33 pm #

    The pink/blue thing made me frown too. But other than that, go for it.

  36. Kiki June 9, 2015 at 1:13 pm #

    Love this idea, but I will agree with Kate and the others about bracelet colors; add in yellow, green, orange, and even tye-dye for a variety!

  37. kate June 12, 2015 at 9:08 am #

    This is one of the dumbest ideas I’ve ever heard. Like the popsicle cover.

  38. Melissa June 12, 2015 at 11:07 am #

    I just ordered two! This is a great idea, my kids will love them.