"free-range kids"

Virginia towns' trick-or-treat laws threaten over-12s with jail-time

In Chesapeake, VA, trick-or-treaters over 12 face fines of $25-100 and up to six months in jail (under-12s who trick-or-treat after 8PM face fines of $10-100 and up to 30 days in jail). Read the rest

Utah passes America's first "free-range kids" law

After years of free-range kids campaigning, a state legislature has taken heed: Utah just passed the Child Neglect Amendments, affirming that common activities like letting your kid walk to school or leaving them in the car while you duck into a shop are not neglect or child abuse. Read the rest

Police Chief says 12-year-old girls who take nude selfies are "guilty"

Peters, Pennsylvania Police Chief Harry Fruch has ordered his police force to investigate middle school students who are taking and sharing naked pictures of themselves.

“If the photograph was taken by the individual, male or female between the ages of 12 and under 18, she’s as much a guilty party as the person who received it. She is not a victim in this case or he is not a victim,” said Chief Fruch.

From Lenore Skenazy of Free-Range Kids:

Huh? So are they both perps? Are they going to be registered as sex offenders?

I have no idea if the authorities will go in that awful direction. But the fact that other young people have been prosecuted for the same behavior just means that young people are in danger of ruining their lives NOT because their naked pictures are out there — at some point, even employers won’t care, because these will be so common — but because the cops swooped in and declared the kids deviants.

Read the rest

New US law says kids can walk to school by themselves

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. Read the rest

What we talk about when we talk about "Internet addiction"

danah boyd nails it: "We blame technology, rather than work, to understand why children engage with screens in the first place." Read the rest

Cops pick up Maryland kids again, hold them for hours without informing parents

The Meitiv kids of Maryland, whose parents free-range them, were picked up by the cops yesterday and kept in the back of a patrol car for three hours. This happened once before in January and the parents are getting tired of it.

Family fake-kidnapped 6-year-old to teach him to mistrust strangers

The Troy, MO family of a six-year-old boy staged a kidnapping in which they terrorized him and made him believe that he would be sold into sex slavery, because they wanted to convince him not to be so "nice" to strangers. Read the rest

In the Interests of Safety: using evidence to beat back security theater

"Health and Safety" is the all-purpose excuse for any stupid, bureaucratic, humiliating rubbish that officialdom wants to shove down our throats. In the Interests of Safety, from Tracey Brown and Michael Hanlon, is the antidote: an expert dismantling of bad risk-analysis and a call-to-arms to do something about it, fighting superstition and silliness with evidence.

Bizarre, paranoid warning about imaginary predators choosing victims through bumper-sticker-ology

Lenore "Free Range Kids" Skenazy points out a new and disturbing artifact from the weird parallel world of bubble-wrapped-kids: a post warning you that the treacly "My family" minivan stickers are an invitation to canny predators who are after YOUR KIDS. No one's saying that this has ever happened, just that they can imagine it, and if they can imagine it, bad guys can imagine it, and if you can imagine a bad guy doing something bad, then you should drop everything to prevent that imaginary thing from coming true.

When in trouble/Or in doubt/Run in circles/Scream and shout.

That Sticker on My Car Is NOT Endangering Me! Read the rest

Playground removes "safety" rules; fun, development and injuries ensue

The Swanson School in Auckland, NZ, quietly eliminated all the rules against "unsafe play," allowing kids to play swordfight with sticks, ride scooters, and climb trees. It started when the playground structures were torn down to make way for new ones, and the school principal, Bruce McLachlan, noticed that kids were building their own structures out of the construction rubble. The "unsafe" playground has resulted in some injuries, including at least one broken arm, but the parents are very supportive of the initiative. In particular, the parents of the kid with the broken arm made a point of visiting the principal to ask him not to change the playground just because their kid got hurt.

The article in the Canadian National Post notes that Kiwis are less litigious, by and large, than Americans, and that they enjoy an excellent national health service, and says that these two factors are a large contributor to the realpolitik that makes the playground possible. But this is still rather daring by Kiwi standards. Read the rest

Child in wet bathing suit made to stand in -5F weather because school policy forbade her from waiting in teacher's car

Kayona Hagen-Tietz, a ninth grader at Como Park High School in St Paul, MN, says she developed frostbite when she was made to stand in -5F weather wearing nothing but a wet bathing suit. She had been in swim class when the fire-bell rang, and evacuated in nothing but her wet swimsuit. Faculty offered to allow her to wait in a car, but school policy prohibits students from entering cars other than those belonging to family and their delegated help. Eventually, common sense won out, though apparently not soon enough.

(via Free Range Kids) Read the rest

Valentine Heart Brakers

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Knife use workshops for kids

If you live near Pennsylvania's Lackawanna State Forest and want your kids to learn to use knives responsibly -- an important skill, endangered by scaremongering and helicopter parenting -- you can take them to Sharp Kids, a half-day workshop on knife use for kids aged 8-12. It's $20, knife included. Read the rest

Teachers open camping kid's sealed letter home; eject kid for confessing to eating chocolate

An 11-year-old girl was sent home from a week-long summer-camp on the Isle of Wight for smuggling in a chocolate bar; a fact that her teachers discovered after they opened a sealed letter addressed to her mother and read it. Her mother, who is unemployed and cares full-time for her autistic son, had to drive 160 miles through the night to pick up the child. She had saved for six months to pay for the trip. Teachers conducted a full search of the child's possessions -- including pulling out her suitcase lining -- to discover the banned chocolates. Read the rest

American Girl dolls: from adventure heroes to helicopter-parented, sheltered junior spa-bunnies

Writing in The Atlantic, Amy Schiller documents how Mattel has spent the past 15 years transforming the expensive, highly detailed American Girl dolls from a source of radical inspiration that signposted moments in the history of the struggles for justice and equality in the US, into posh upper-middle-class girls who raise money for bake sales. As Lenore Skenazy points out, the original American Girls were children who had wild adventures without adult oversight; the new crop are helicopter-parented and sheltered, and their idea of high adventure is a closely supervised day in the snow.

Saige is white and upper-middle-class, just like McKenna the gymnast and Lanie the amateur gardener and butterfly enthusiast, both previous Girls of the Year. Even in their attempt to encourage spunky and active girlhoods, their approaches to problem solving are highly local—one has a bake sale to help save the arts program in a local school, another scores a victory for the organic food movement when she persuades a neighbor to stop using pesticides.

By contrast, the original dolls confronted some of the most heated issues of their respective times. In the book A Lesson for Samantha, she wins an essay contest at her elite academy with a pro-manufacturing message, but after conversations with Nellie, her best friend from a destitute background who has younger siblings working in brutal factory jobs, Samantha reverses course and ends us giving a speech against child labor in factories at the award ceremony. Given the class divide, Samantha's speech presumably takes place in front of the very industrial barons responsible for those factory conditions.

Read the rest

Mid-Century Modern housing designs vs children

Projectophile's Clare has a funny post about the hazards presented by beautiful mid-century modern home designs to children. My grandparents had a proper split-level MCM when I was a kid, and it's a wonder we survived. As Clare says, "I love open, flowing space as much as the next modern girl. But I know it would only be a matter of minutes before my kid flings himself off one of these deadly ledges..."

15 Mid-Century Modern Dream Homes that will Kill Your Children

(via MeFi) Read the rest

Parents in danger of having six-year-old daughter taken away for letting her walk to their local post office on her own

A reader of Free Range Kids is in danger of having his six-year-old daughter taken into protective services custody because he let her walk a few blocks to the post office in their Ohio town. The kid, Emily, asked for a little independence, and was given permission to take some unsupervised, short walks. Neighbors and cops freaked out, detained her, detained her parents, sent CPS after them, and has made their life into a nightmare -- one that's just getting worse and worse.

Day 41: We are served with a complaint alleging neglect and dependency. The County wants to take Emily into “protective supervision” or “temporary custody.” The complaint contains many factual errors and inaccuracies.

There is also a motion for “pre-dispositional interim orders.” As I understand it, this is a mechanism by which CPS can intervene even before the merits of the case against us for neglect are even heard, but less decided. It is scheduled to take place more than a month before the hearing on the neglect charge. It asks the court to force my wife and I to “allow ______ County Children Services to complete an assessment with the family. This is including allowing the agency access in the home, allowing the agency to interview the children, and participate openly in the assessment process.” In other words, they want to search our house, interrogate the children, and force us to testify.

We are trying our best to raise Emily to be responsible, curious, and capable. We have chosen to include teaching her about using the library, navigating the neighborhood, and mailing letters as elements of her homeschooling.

Read the rest

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