Free-Range Parenting


In a 2008 column, Lenore Skenazy wrote about her why she allowed her nine-year-old son to use the New York City Subway to get home, calling it “free-range parenting”. According to Skenazy in her book, Free-Range Kids: Giving Our Children the Freedom We Had Without Going Nuts with Worry she defines “free-range parenting” as “fighting the belief that our children are in constant danger from creeps, kidnapping, germs, grades, flashers, frustration, failure, baby snatchers, bugs, bullies, men, sleepovers and/or the perils of a non-organic grape.”

The “free-range parenting” movement continues to be a controversial issue as many are calling this practice extremely dangerous. On the other hand, others say it is a great way for a child to learn self-responsibility. Nevertheless, this movement raises the issue of child neglect. In Skenazy’s case of her nine-year-old son; some might argue that he is too young to be riding on the busy New York City Subway alone.

Let’s be honest, how can one define a child as responsible at that age? Nevermind the fact that the world is not a friendly place. Every 40 seconds a child goes missing somewhere in the United States according to the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC).

Why parents partake in this movement bewilders some but casting judgment on parents who do also added fuel to the fire. What complicates this matter is that the state of Utah passed a “free-range parenting” bill into law in 2018.

Hopefully, parents raising “free-range kids” are fully aware of potential dangers and mindful of these very real statistics, and if the benefits of this practice outweigh these dangers and statistics.


Halpurn, M. (Interviewer) & Slotter, K. (Interviewee). (2011, July 12). A child goes missing every 40 seconds in America. That comes to 765,000 children a year. [Audio File]. Retrieved from

Skenazy, L. Free-Range Kids, Giving Our Children the Freedom We Had Without Going Nuts with Worry. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2009. Print.

Wikipedia contributors. (2018, April 4). Lenore Skenazy. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 05:07, August 20, 2018, from

Flynn, M. (2018, March 28) Utah’s ‘free-range parenting’ law said to be first in the nation, The Washington Post, Retrieved from

Photo Credit: StockSnap, Pixabay, License: CC Public Domain

Aneeta Pearson, MSW, MS


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