Mount Pleasant, SC (WCBD) – In South Carolina, Lawmakers are looking at a “Free Range Parenting Bill”. The legislation would change the current state laws about child abuse to say children old enough do not need constant adult supervision
Free Range Parenting, it’s the idea that children who are old and mature enough can play outside or stay home alone as long as their basic needs are met. The age that a child can do things without adult supervision is what the bill says is up to the parents to decide.
It’s the opposite of helicopter parenting– granting your child free-range to do activities independently of your supervision. Those activities may include the child walking, running or biking to school or a nearby store, park, swimming pool and other recreational facility without a guardian present.
Psychologist Kerrie Murphy, Ph.D., Medical University of South Carolina, says that independence is a skill that children need to learn early on.
She says, “It is an important developmental task for children to learn to be independent and be autonomous. It’s a skill that is great for them to foster and continue to evolve. It will help make them ready for the general task of adolescence.”
Some local parents agree with free-range parenting, others have concerns.
One parent in favor of the bill said, “Every child is different, every parent is different and when you get more experience being a parent it helps to make better decisions on whether your kids can or cannot do things. I don’t believe that the state should be the one to dictate whether or not you can let your kid ride a bike down to the neighbor’s house.”
Another parent not in favor of the bill said, “I really wouldn’t feel comfortable with my child roaming freely at all because there are predators out there. I don’t think an 8-year-old should be roaming freely without parental supervision, so I think an age minimum for the bill needs to be more defined.
As the law is now free-range parenting could be considered neglect. The bill would no longer criminalize those who choose to parent this way. Dr. Kerrie Murphy says that the age for a child to do independent activities really needs to be looked at on a case by case basis. She also says that the safety of your neighborhood is should also be considered before you let your child have free-range.