The 10 Worst Free-Range Kids Stories of 2015 (and the 5 best!)


A zrnsnndbay
mash-up of the most insane events proceeding from the desire to keep our precious kids safe…no matter how moronically:

1 – Mom Who Overslept While Her Son Walked to School Handcuffed, Threatened with 10 Years’ Sentence

In November, Connecticut mom Maria Hasankolli overslept while her son, age 8, got himself ready for school, missed his bus and started walking. Cops who were alerted to a boy alone outside picked him up and drove him the rest of the way. Then they went to the home of the oversleeping mom, clapped her into handcuffs and charged her with “risk of injury to a minor.” This carries a potential 10-year jail term. She was released on $2500 bail.

2 – Nationwide Depresses Entire Country with Super Bowl Ad Featuring Dead Child

Nationwide’s Super Bowl ad, which showed a dead kid mourning all the life he won’t get go live, had a simple message: Parents who lost children just weren’t careful enough. Way to twist the knife!

3 – 6-Year-Old Boy Suspended for Playing with Imaginary Bow and Arrow

A first grader at Our Lady of Lourdes elementary school in Cincinnati, OH, got suspended for three days for shooting another student with an imaginary bow and arrow. As the principal wrote to his parents, “I have no tolerance for any real, pretend, or imitated violence.” Because, of course, those are all the same.

4 – Government Saves 140,000 Children From…One Faulty Zipper

The Consumer Product Safety Commission recalled 140,000 Kids Korner children’s sweatshirts after receiving one report of one zipper-pull that fell off one shirt. While no injuries ensued, the Commission warned that “The sweatshirt zipper pull can detach, posing a choking hazard to young children.” No word yet on a recall of all buttons, dimes, pistachio nuts, thumbtacks, acorns, ear plugs, blueberries or sugar cubes.

5 – Two Schools Go on Lockdown Due to Reports of Local Emu at Large

An emu on the loose in Delaware caused two schools to go into lockdown. As one student told his grandpa, a big bird was outside and police were chasing it, so couldn’t play on the playground.

And they say Americans are getting soft.

6 – School Lets Girl Cough Self Into Vomiting Fit, Because Her Inhaler Doesn’t Have Her Name On It

At Columbia Elementary in West Jordan, UT, fourth grader Emma Gonzalez took out her inhaler to quell a coughing fit so severe that she threw up. But the inhaler was confiscated for not having her name on it. District officials insist the staff did everything right. “There could be all sorts of problems if children were just allowed to take any medication and we didn’t have that verification. Again, this is for the student’s safety,” said district spokeswoman Sandy Riesgraf.

It always is.

7 – Police Report that a Boy Got Into White Van. You Know What THAT Means!

In September, Schenectady, NY, police warned the public that “an unconfirmed third party saw a child get into a white Ford Econoline van around 10:30 or 11 a.m. on Tuesday near Emmons and Henry streets.” The cops went on to describe the boy and the driver, then added this crucial bit of information: “…right now no official missing person report has been filed.” In other words, the only evidence of a “crime” was that a boy got into a van.

But, you know, it WAS white.

8 –  United Airlines Will Not Let 15 Year Olds Fly Unaccompanied by An Adult

At United Airlines, 15-year-olds will now have to be accompanied on and off the plane by a paid chaperon. Until this month, the requirement was only for kids aged 5-12. This new rule will cost parents $150 for each leg of the trip, and means that high school students not old enough to walk to  the gate alone will, a year later, be old enough to drive a couple tons of steel at 65 miles an hour.

9 –  Mom Threatened with 30-Day Sentence for Letting her 4-year-old Play Outside

A Sacramento, CA, mom who let her 4-year-old son play outside at a playground 120 feet from her home was arrested. Sonya Hendren’s neighbors called 911 when they saw the boy outside. She was offered a deal of 30 days in jail and one year’s probation but rejected it. Now a court date is pending. In the meantime, she says, “We have a CPS (Child Protective Service) case now and every time he’s not in my visual site we’re in violation.”

10 – Parents Must Sign Permission Slip Before Kids Can Eat Oreos

There are 18-wheelers with brake problems, hungry bears just stumbling out of hibernation, and lawnmowers that suddenly kick into reverse. And then there are Double Stuf Oreos. Thank goodness a Pennsylvania teacher sent home a note for middle school parents to sign: “My child has permission to eat the OREO.” No permission slip, no Oreo.

And the 5 BEST Free-Range Stories of 2015:

1 – – Free-Range Meitiv Family Beats All Neglect Charges

Silver Spring’s Danielle and Alexander Meitiv were cleared of all charges stemming from their decision to let their kids, 6 and 10, walk home from the park — twice!

2 – Zach Anderson, 19, Resentenced. No Longer a Sex Offender For Sleeping With a Girl Who Said She Was 17

Elkhart, IN, Computer science student Zach Anderson, 19, met a girl, 17, on the “Hot or Not?” app and they hooked up — once. But it turned out the girl had lied about her age and was actually 14. Zach got 90 days in jail and was to put on the Sex Offender Registry for 25 years. As Berrien County District Court Judge Dennis Wiley chided from him the bench:

“You went online, to use a fisherman’s expression, trolling for women to meet and have sex with. That seems to be part of our culture now: meet, hook up, have sex, sayonara. Totally inappropriate behavior. There is no excuse for this whatsoever.”

Due to massive publicity, Anderson received a new sentencing hearing, which determined he actually is NOT a sex offender. He was given two years’ probation. No word on two other young men sentenced as Sex Offenders for the same crime by the same judge.

3 –  New Jersey Supreme Court Rules that Leaving a Kid in the Car During an Errand is Not Automatically Abuse

The New Jersey Supreme Court just ruled, 7-0, that a mom found guilty of child endangerment for letting her sleeping daughter wait in the car for 5-10 minutes in a suburban mall parking lot on a cool day deserved another hearing because, “Any allegation of child neglect in which the conduct of the parent or caretaker does not cause actual harm is fact-sensitive and must be resolved on a case-by-case basis.” In other words,  not all parenting mistakes (or even rational decisions that some authorities disagree with) are child abuse.

4 – Easy Way to Find Fellow Free-Range Parents Launched

Free-Range Kids launched — a free service where you enter your ZIP or postal code to find nearby Free-Rangers who might also want to send their kids outside to play or walk to school. So far over 2000 families have joined!

5 – President Obama Signs First Federal Free-Range Kids Legislation

When President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act, he ratified the first federal Free-Range Kids legislation. An amendment added by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) states, “…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  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.”

In other words: It’s not a crime to let your kid walk to school. Hallelujah!


Hi! I'm dead, I bummed everyone out during the Super Bowl, and I'm not even the worst Free-Range story of last year!

Hi! I’m dead, I bummed everyone out during the Super Bowl, and I’m not even the worst Free-Range story of last year!



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26 Responses to The 10 Worst Free-Range Kids Stories of 2015 (and the 5 best!)

  1. Mike December 30, 2015 at 10:56 pm #

    About the inhaler, remember that the ONLY thing bureaucrats care about is process. What if the girl had died of asphyxiation? Well, that’s sad but if her name wasn’t on the inhaler there is nothing they could do. And, by keeping the unnamed inhaler away from the now-dead girl, policy was followed, so the outcome, while regrettable, is acceptable.

    Astute readers will note the use of passive voice in that last sentence (policy was followed…).

    Always, ALWAYS remember, process, not results, is the only thing that matters to bureaucrats.

  2. James Pollock December 31, 2015 at 3:20 am #

    “When President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act, he ratified the first federal Free-Range Kids legislation.”

    No, he didn’t, because there’s literally nothing free-range about the Every Student Succeeds Act.

    It does not accomplish anything that can be called “free range”. Nothing.

    “In other words: It’s not a crime to let your kid walk to school.”
    Did you not read your own Worst #1?

  3. James Pollock December 31, 2015 at 3:23 am #

    “About the inhaler, remember that the ONLY thing bureaucrats care about is process.”

    I think this accounts for #10, as well. It isn’t that parents have to sign a permission slip to let their kids eat Oreos, it’s that they have to sign a permission slip to let their kids eat food provided by others that has been removed from its packaging. Which is a CYA for food-allergy-sufferers who get their hands on something containing their allergens.

  4. pentamom December 31, 2015 at 11:12 am #

    I don’t remember the emu one, that’s absurd.

    It was probably a good idea to cancel outside recess if they didn’t know where the bird was, and had reason to suspect it was quite close to the school — those big birds can hurt a kid (or an adult) and younger kids might do something dumb chasing after it. It’s not likely, but that’s a possibly reasonable judgment to make.

    But lockdown? What did they think the bird was going to try to do?

  5. hineata December 31, 2015 at 2:45 pm #

    Happy New Year from the first country to welcome the new year….already 8.30 here ☺☺.

    Pentamom, just Google the Great Emu War. Emu are strategists par excellence, having once defeated the Australian Army. Just about anything is possible from these birds, and they look amazing with their hard hats and cigars……

  6. Donald December 31, 2015 at 4:18 pm #


    Everybody agrees that Every Student Succeeds Act doesn’t go as far as we’d like. However it’s a start. You seem to get an empowerment over disagreeing. For you, an argument gives you a ‘pick me up’ the same as spinach does for Popeye the sailor.

  7. En Passant December 31, 2015 at 4:21 pm #

    Mike December 30, 2015 at 10:56 pm:

    Always, ALWAYS remember, process, not results, is the only thing that matters to bureaucrats.

    Slight correction: Process specified by bureaucrats to serve their own interest is the only thing that matters to bureaucrats.

  8. Anna December 31, 2015 at 4:31 pm #

    ” ‘Always, ALWAYS remember, process, not results, is the only thing that matters to bureaucrats.’

    Slight correction: Process specified by bureaucrats to serve their own interest is the only thing that matters to bureaucrats.”

    I actually think the original statement is true. That’s what’s so invidious about bureaucracy – it makes normal, decent, well-meaning people act like inhuman morons, even without any nefarious intentions.

    I have an in-law who works for an environmental regulatory agency, and I really see this phenomenon in her when any kind of regulation comes up in conversation. No matter how stupid and unnecessary or even actively harmful in outcome a given regulation is, she thinks all that matters is that it was scrupulously and consistently applied to everyone – that makes it fair in her eyes, no matter how much unintended harm it may do.

  9. Papilio December 31, 2015 at 6:27 pm #

    Gelukkig nieuwjaar uit Nederland! 😀 (What? There’s always Google Translate…)

  10. Papilio December 31, 2015 at 6:28 pm #

    @Hineata: “already 8.30 here” You slacker 😛 I have it 0:28.

  11. James Pollock January 1, 2016 at 1:35 am #

    “Everybody agrees that Every Student Succeeds Act doesn’t go as far as we’d like.”

    It doesn’t go as far as you’d like because it doesn’t go anywhere.

    “However it’s a start.”
    No, it isn’t. It doesn’t start anything.

    If the Every Student Succeeds Act is a start, then so was the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the Violence Against Women Act, and the Volstead Act… each had the exact same free-range non-effects as the Every Student Succeeds Act.

    “You seem to get an empowerment over disagreeing.”
    If this somehow makes you feel better, let me give you a nice, firm “whatever, dude.”

  12. From Denmark January 1, 2016 at 6:34 am #

    If you free ranger i the u.s. need some new support, i can tell you that the Queen of Denmark used a part of he speak on new year’s eve, to remind us that children must have the possibility to play unsupervised. She would understand you.

  13. trollbuster January 1, 2016 at 6:35 am #

    A WARREN free discussion. Best way to start the New Year.

  14. Donald January 1, 2016 at 2:41 pm #

    Hire a teen while they still know everything

    Most of us have heard this snarky comment. It’s normal (although annoying) for teens to believe that they know more than anybody. However most grow out of the ‘know it all’ stage in their mid 20’s. It’s a good thing that they do because the older the person, the less forgiving the public have about this annoying attitude. This is the same as a 3 year old that has a screaming tantrum. If you were to see a 14 year old have a screaming tantrum, you’d think much less of the teen than you would of the toddler.

    James I’m sorry to hear that you haven’t grown out of it yet. It must be tough. However you need to be careful that this doesn’t become a paradox. When the annoying habit reduces your popularity so much that it brings on more stress. This additional stress can make want to become even more argumentative and so the saga begins. (or perhaps it has been going on for years)

  15. pentamom January 1, 2016 at 3:14 pm #

    And gelukkig nieuwjaar uit U.S. to you, Papilio.

    (Wow, first time I ever wrote anything in Dutch. I didn’t need Google translate because I know a bit of German and it’s close enough to both German and English to make out.)

  16. pentamom January 1, 2016 at 3:17 pm #

    I have to back James up on this one. The ESSA of 1906 doesn’t affect the right of kids to walk to school any more than the Pure Food and Drug Act affects the laws concerning the keeping of emus. The amendment says that the law shall not be construed to restrict anything that nothing in the law actually restricts, and is not binding on any legislation or regulation outside the act itself.

  17. pentamom January 1, 2016 at 3:18 pm #

    Ugh, bad editing, I mean the ESSA of 2015 doesn’t affect free range any more than the PFDA of 1906 affects emu keeping.

  18. Havva January 1, 2016 at 4:14 pm #

    I found a little more evidence that we are reaching a turning point, where more people are fighting the pervasive fear… (In this case the fear that the kids won’t get into Harvard.) Hear is hoping for more progress against the dual fears in 2016.

    Happy New Year

  19. Papilio January 2, 2016 at 3:03 pm #

    @Pentamom: Well, congratulations 😀 The puzzle piece you missed is ‘de VS’ 🙂
    I use my German and English to try to figure out some Swedish and Danish – it makes all those Scandinavian detective series even more fun. (Amazing how fast you pick up the swear words…)

  20. trollbuster January 2, 2016 at 8:54 pm #

    Two days without Warren. A great New Years.

  21. trollbuster January 3, 2016 at 4:41 pm #

    Three days sans Warren… And a Happy New Year

  22. fred schueler January 3, 2016 at 4:55 pm #

    I wonder if you’ve looked into “drive your [or your parent’s] snowmoblie to school” days in Ontario? I just heard about these yesterday – apparently kids as young as 11 can get certified to drive a snowmobile on official trails. I will try to get more info and photos of what are said to be snowmobile-infested school parkinglots.

  23. Keri January 4, 2016 at 8:01 am #

    Thanks for sharing as knowing about consequences helps out parents who are also raising free-range kids. Here’s hoping that signing the free-range kids legislation will prevent many unnecessary legal consequences.

  24. pentamom January 4, 2016 at 10:22 am #

    Okay, let’s continue the language lesson — why is it “uit” Nederland and “de” VS?

  25. Joanne January 6, 2016 at 8:30 pm #

    This is absurd – I worked in a Mall before I was 17 y/o – if you are old enough to work there, you are old enough to be accompanied there and held accountable for your behavior – sounds like the cop wants the Mall to enforce its ridiculous policy to save his PD from doing their jobs – the Mall policy is unenforceable due to its infringement on civil rights

    Depriving children of age-appropriate independence breeds anxious, insecure, indecisive adults completely lacking in self-confidence & common sense – it is an injustice to this generation of kids so much moreso than parents or anyone else

    How did everyone survive in the 70s, 80s & 90s? Our parents left us in cars, latchkeyed us, dropped us off at the mall & even allowed us to stay home when they went out – these experiences allow kids to develop life skills to draw on for years to come and are so very important – what is the matter with society today?! Why waste so much time, effort & energy on micromanaging parenting? Why not focus that effort on addressing the many real problems our country faces?

  26. Joanne January 6, 2016 at 8:32 pm #

    Meant to leave last comment on Mall story – copied & pasted to right story but can’t delete it from this one now – sorry!