Free-range: Not just for chickens, but our kids too? (Poll)

Free range children playing in field

Around the country, parents are increasingly being targeted by law enforcement and child services for purposely allowing their kids to wander off on their own to play or ride public transit, sometimes for hours at a time. Many of these parental choices are part of the so-called “Free-Range Kids” movement, which believes parents today are overprotective, inhibiting their kids’ emotional growth.

But is Free-Range parenting too risky for today’s (possibly) more dangerous world? Or is the world actually NOT more dangerous today than it used to be? The issue is stirring up a heated debate, and state laws on child neglect are in flux.

So how do parents even know exactly what’s legal or illegal in allowing their children to be unsupervised?

Unfortunately there is no simple answer, and the laws vary widely by state. But often a parent can be found to violate child neglect laws for allowing a child to be unsupervised in a way that creates an “unreasonable risk of harm.” What the heck does that mean? Ultimately it’s based on whether the community (as potential jurors) would decide that a particular situation is too risky for a child to be on his or her own.

Since public opinion varies widely on the issue, and is likely changing rapidly, it’s a very difficult thing for a parent to even know what the community standards are. So I thought it would be interesting to take a poll to see what people think about each of the following real-life situations in which parents have come under fire for their lack of supervision. Check out the poll below and decide for yourself.

What do you think about leaving kids alone in the following situations? Too risky or not too risky?

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