These are our rights, as parents, as kids, as humans. Please visit Let Grow’s Laws & Advocacy page for the latest on “Reasonable Childhood Independence” bills being introduced.
Here is the original, short and sweet, Free-Range Kids and Parent Bill of Rights:
Our children have the right to some unsupervised time, and we have the right to give it to them without getting arrested.
And here is the longer version. Below it is the version that passed in the Arkansas Senate, but was voted down by the House Judiciary Committee there. Still — kudos to Arkansas for being the first to try. Utah became the first state to actually pass — unanimously — a Free-Range Kids Law.
Feel free to suggest changes. These aren’t written on parchment…yet. And thanks to commenter Carolyn who wrote a lot of this.
Free-Range Kids and Parent Bill of Rights
Statement of findings
- Violent crime is at a 50 year low.
- The risk of child abduction by strangers is very low.
- Car accidents are the leading cause of death among children.
- Lack of exercise is a contributing factor to short term and long term health risks for children.
- It is in the public interest for children to walk and cycle to their day-to-day destinations, and to play outside unsupervised.
Rights of Children to Freedom of Movement
- Therefore, this legislature decrees that children may walk, cycle, take public transportation and/or play outside by themselves, with the permission of a parent or guardian.
- Allowing children to exercise these rights shall not be grounds for civil or criminal charges against their parents or guardians, nor shall it be grounds for investigation by child protective services, removal of the children from their family home, or termination of parental rights.
Rights of Parents to Make Rational Decisions
- More children die in parking lots than die waiting in parked cars while their caregivers run an errand.
- The majority of children who die in parked cars were forgotten there for hours or got into the car unbeknownst to anyone and could not get out.
- Punishing parents who let their children wait in the car for five minutes will not bring back the children forgotten there for five hours.
- Therefore, parents should be allowed to make their own decisions, based on the location, temperature, and duration of their errand, as to whether or not they wish to let their child wait in the car.
- Laws against children waiting unsupervised for a short amount of time in a parked car shall be repealed.
AND HERE IS THE ARKANSAS BILL (SLIGHTLY SHORTENED):
AN ACT TO AMEND THE DEFINITION OF “NEGLECT” AND THE LAW CONCERNING CLOSURES OF CHILD MALTREATMENT INVESTIGATIONS; TO MAKE CERTAIN ACTS OF A PARENT, GUARDIAN, CUSTODIAN, OR FOSTER PARENT NONCRIMINAL; AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF ARKANSAS:
The General Assembly finds that:
(1) Everyone desires the safety of all children;
(2) A child raised under constant adult supervision misses opportunities for growth and, as a result, may end up stunted developmentally 30 and physically;
(3) The alarming rise of obesity and diabetes in childhood is almost certainly linked to the insistence of parents and guardians on driving their children to school and activities instead of allowing their children to walk;
(4) As measured by incidences of mental health difficulties, today’s over-supervised youth experience more difficulties upon reaching adulthood than earlier generations;
(5) Earlier generations learned resilience by walking, bicycling, playing, helping out, and solving problems without constant adult intervention;
(6) Parents and guardians often are in the best position to weigh the risks and make decisions concerning the safety of children under their care, including where their children may go, with whom, and when; and
(7) The excessive investigation and prosecution of parents and guardians who have done nothing more than briefly and safely permit their children to remain unsupervised has introduced unnecessary governmental intrusion into the homes of families and diverted valuable public resources 12 to inconsequential and trivial matters.
It is the intent of the General Assembly that this act:
(1) Protect and promote a parent or guardian’s inherent right to raise his or her children; and
(2) Protect a parent or guardian’s decision to grant his or her children unsupervised time to engage in activities that include without limitation playing outside, walking to school, bicycling, remaining briefly in a vehicle, and remaining at home.
Arkansas Code Title 5, Chapter 27, Subchapter 1, is amended to add an additional section to read as follows:
Noncriminal acts of parents, custodians, guardians, and foster parents.
An act of a parent, custodian, guardian, or foster parent described under § 12-18-103(14)(C) is not a criminal offense.
Arkansas Code § 12-18-103(14), concerning the definition of “neglect” under the Child Maltreatment Act, is amended to add an additional subdivision to read as follows:
(C) “Neglect” does not include a parent, custodian, guardian, or foster parent who permits his or her child to perform the following actions unsupervised if the child is of sufficient capacity to avoid immediate danger and a significant risk of harm:
(i) Travel to and from school including without limitation traveling by walking, running, or bicycling;
(ii) Engage in outdoor play;
(iii) Remain for less than fifteen (15) minutes in a vehicle if the temperature inside the vehicle is not or will not become dangerously hot or cold; or
(iv) Remain at home before and after school if the parent, custodian, guardian, or foster parent:
(a) Returns home on the same day on which the parent, custodian, guardian, or foster parent gives the child permission to remain at home;
(b) Makes provisions for the child to be able to contact the parent, custodian, guardian, or foster parent on the same day on which the parent, custodian, guardian, or foster parent gives the child permission to remain at home; and
(c) Makes provisions for any reasonably foreseeable emergencies that may arise on the same day on which the parent, custodian, guardian, or foster parent gives the child permission to remain at home;
…And then the law states that a parent only doing any of the things outlined above shall not be investigated for negligence.