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Utah lawmakers OK free-range parenting bill

The Latest on a Utah plan to specifically legalize free-range parenting:

3:27 p.m.

A panel of Utah lawmakers has approved a proposal aimed at ensuring parents aren’t investigated for letting their kids do things like walk to school or play outside alone, known as free-range parenting.

The bill passed unanimously Tuesday would revise state law to say allowing mature kids to do things like travel to school or play outside isn’t neglect if the children are otherwise well cared-for. It now moves to the Senate floor.

Republican sponsor Sen. Lincoln Fillmore told several stories of parents investigated and some who briefly lost custody after people reported seeing their kids playing basketball in their yards or walking to school alone. None happened in Utah.

Democratic Sen. Luz Escamilla says she’s glad people report unsupervised children, though she said the official responses may have been overzealous.


12:19 p.m.

Free-range parenting is a modern buzzword for families aiming to raise self-sufficient kids, but how much freedom at what age remains a fierce debate.

Now, one Utah lawmaker wants to ensure parents are not accused of neglect for allowing mature kids to do things alone like travel to school, explore a playground or stay in the car.

A panel of lawmakers is set to hear the bill on Tuesday.

Republican Sen. Lincoln Fillmore says allowing kids to make their own way helps keep the joy in childhood and prepare them for the future.

Still, some question whether the measure is needed. Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill says Utah authorities don’t micromanage parents. He worries such a law could be used as a defense in child abuse cases.

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