Today when Pres. Obama signs the EveryÂ Student eazfseryts
Succeeds Act, he will be signing into lawÂ the first federal Free-Range Kids legislation. An amendment added by Sen. Mike Lee (R., Utah) states that:
“…nothing in this Act shall…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 Â 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.”
AÂ caveat adds, “…nothing in this section 10 shall be construed to preempt State or local laws.â€™â€™
So, yes, there is still wiggle room for states to criminalize parents who trust their kids to walk to school (or who sleep through them doing this on their own). But it’s a great start. You can find the law right there on page 857, after 856 absolutely riveting pages of other clauses and sub-clauses.
For his part, Sen. Lee did not end up supporting the bill itself, but he emailed me that:
“OurÂ amendment protecting parents who allow their kids to walk to school is definitely a silver lining. Unsupervised moments are a huge part of how children learn, grow, and build the skills that prepare them for the rigors of citizenship and the adventure of adult life.â€
â€œAmerica faces great challenges today. Kids walking to school with their parentsâ€™ permission is not one of them.â€