Free-Range Parenting Legislation Is Coming To Texas

“Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.” George Bernard Shaw

Over the history of the great experiment in human freedom, one can find many exhortations on the necessity of personal responsibility as a requisite to maintenance of a free society.

Far from being born with the tools of self-sufficiency, life’s lessons often must be taught, not only through the guidance of parents and elders, but also from first-hand experiences with our nature and environs.

Now, a new Utah law legalizing “free-range parenting” has gone into effect.

The original bill, recently signed by Utah Governor Gary Herbert, redefines what was previously considered “neglect,” giving parents greater latitude in deciding how and when to let children chart their own course — within reason.

Lenore Skenazy, author of “Free Range Kids,” originally coined the term, writing about allowing her 9-year old to ride the New York City subway alone. “There’s no right way to parent,” Skenazy says. “You have to give the parent leeway because they know best, and they love them the most.”

The Utah measure scales back what authorities are allowed to consider “neglect,” prohibiting investigations for merely allowing a child to walk outside alone, play without supervision, or allow them to wait in a car without an adult.

Skenazy, and Brandon Logan, director of the Center for Families and Children at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, wrote in an op-ed for the Austin American-Statesman that “The state should only get involved when the decisions of parents make great harm likely, not just possible. This standard protects kids from truly negligent parents while giving parents and kids a chance to thrive.”

Logan is reportedly working with state lawmakers to bring a similar bill to the Texas legislature in the coming year.

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Salvador Ayala

Sal is the Budget & Policy Analyst for Empower Texans. He has been a committed proponent of American founding principles since 2007, shortly after receiving his J.D. from Chicago-Kent College of Law. Before joining Empower Texans, he served as legislative director for Rep. Matt Rinaldi in the Texas house and was a delegate to the 2012 RNC. In his leisure, Sal enjoys live music, digital photography, guitar, bicycling, trivia, and documentary films.

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