After years of documenting instances in which parents and kids are terrorized by law enforcement and child welfare authorities because the kids were allowed to be on their own in public places, the Free Range Kids movement has gotten some justice: a new Federal law gives its official okey-doke to parents who let their kids get to school on their own.
Section 8542 of the Every Student Succeeds Act specifically does not limit "a child from traveling to and from school on foot or by car, bus, or bike when the parents of the child have given permission" nor does it "expose parents to civil or criminal charges for allowing their child to responsibly and safely travel to and from school by a means the parents believe is age appropriate."
It's a largely symbolic victory, alas, as this does not preclude state and local dunderheads from passing laws that put parents in jeopardy for allowing their kids to be in public unaccompanied.
Today, the combination of "stranger danger" fear and overzealous police leads to interference and intimidation. "Across the country," says free-range kids activist Lenore Skenazy, "parents are getting harassed and even arrested when they let their kids leave the house without a security detail."
In an article for the New York Post, Skenazy points out that kids today are actually in less danger as they wander the streets alone than their parents ever were. "Ironically, kids walking to school today are actually very safe—safer than their parents were. The crime level is back to what it was in 1963," she says. "As Sen. Lee wrote in an e-mail to me, ‘America faces great challenges today. Kids walking to school with their parents’ permission is not one of them.’"
Federal Law Now Says Kids Can Walk To School Alone [Charlie Sorrel/Fast Company]
(Image: Walking To School, Elizabeth, CC-BY)