Other states are taking note of Utah’s free-range parenting law


Salt Lake City, Utah- (News4Utah) – A new law is drawing a lot of attention to the state of Utah, and we’re not talking about alcohol policy.

Our state’s first of its kind free-range parenting law is getting a lot national buzz, and could kick off a trend.

Senate Bill 65, Child Neglect Amendments changes the definition of neglect, so a parent can’t be arrested for letting a child do things like play at a park, or walk or ride a bike to school.

Senator Lincoln Fillmore says when he filed the bill a lot of people asked why it’s necessary.

“The answer to that question is that parents across the country have in fact been arrested, or investigated or even had children taken out of their custody,” said Fillmore, (R) South Jordan.

The bill passed unanimously in the state legislature, and was signed into law by the governor with little fanfare.

It has since blown up on the national stage. Major newspapers and networks have run stories.

“That’s been a real surprise to me, and my schedule has been a lot more full than usual with requests for interviews,” said Fillmore.

He says lawmakers from about a half-dozen states have also called, looking to duplicate the law in their states.

But, it also faces criticism. Some say the idea is irresponsible.

“Letting kids run around and potentially do a lot of harm to themselves and others, is not a good idea,” said Ann Pleshette Murphy, author of The 7 Stages of Motherhood in an interview with ABC News.

Fillmore points to a time when free-range parenting was just parenting, and says it’s good for a kid to be a kid.

“Choosing to give your child a little independence, so that they get the kind of experiences in problem solving and self-reliance that they are going to need to be successful as adults,” said Fillmore.

He gives credit to Arkansas for starting the conversation. They ran a similar bill about a year ago, but it failed.

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Glen Mills

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 Glen is honored to be delivering the news of the day every weeknight at 5, 6, and 10 in his home state. He is an award-winning veteran journalist, who joined the ABC4 News team as a weekend anchor in June 2013. Over the years, he held various positions at the station as he worked his way up to the main anchor chair. He also serves as our Senior Political Correspondent and hosts Inside Utah Politics, which airs every Sunday. The Utah Headliners Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists has recognized Glen as the best government and military television reporter in the state. Before returning home to Utah, he spent 11 1/2 years developing his journalism skills in other states. He held various on-air and management positions at KPVI in Pocatello, Idaho, WGBA in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and KKCO in Grand Junction, Colorado during that time. Read More...