View the model as adopted by the American Legislative Exchange Council.
A “Reasonable Independence” bill (formerly “Free Range Parenting”) is simple common sense.
This model clearly excludes from a state’s definition of “neglect” a host of reasonable decisions any parent could make to allow their child to grow in independence and responsibility.
Decisions like allowing your child to ride a bike to the local playground or to their school, or leaving your child in the car for a couple of minutes on a comfortable day while you dash into the store to get breakfast should not put families at risk of the trauma of separation.
In fact, it is generally the parent who best knows how much responsibility and freedom their child is ready for. Any decision a parent makes based on that knowledge should be protected from the contrary opinion of a nosey neighbor or judgmental passerby.
Decisions that any reasonable parent would not have made, because its dangers are obvious, are not affected by this bill and can still lead to state involvement and investigation.
The aim is not to protect child abusers, but to protect the vast majority of parents who love and care for their children, including those who want their children to grow up more independent and self-reliant.
This model, drafted by a bipartisan coalition of lawyers and family defenders and adopted by ALEC, is ready to be modified to address these issues in your state.
- Law Week Colorado: Free-Range Parenting Law Narrows Definition of Neglect
- Social Policy Report: The Unintended Consequences of “Lack of Supervision” Child Neglect Laws: How Developmental Science Can Inform Policies about Childhood Independence and Child Protection
- Richmond Times Dispatch: Letting Kids Play Outside Isn’t ‘Neglect,’ by VA Senators Jill Vogel and Jennifer Boysko