Several States Considering Bills To Legalize Children Playing Outside Independently
Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan, and Virginia are among the states considering "Reasonable Childhood Independence" laws.
The line between allowing children to play independently and being negligent is coming into question. Currently, most state child safety laws use vague language like “parents must provide proper supervision,” that are too open for interpretation. In some states, children playing independently is seen as neglect.
Let’s Grow, a non-profit focused on legalizing “old-fashioned independence” for kids, has been at the forefront of updating legal language through introducing the Reasonable Childhood Independence bill. The bill has currently passed in 4 states with overwhelming bipartisan support and is up for consideration in eight more states.
Vague definitions of neglect has grave repercussions. In 2014, a mother in Texas had CPS called on her after allowing her son to play outside the house within eye sight. In 2015, another mom was arrested for having her children sit 30 feet away from her in a food court while she was in a job interview. An open-ended interpretation of the law can be especially harmful for lower income families, as the children are statically more likely to be sent to foster homes based solely on allegations of neglect.
This new bill bring greater clarity to the terms “neglect” and “proper supervision” to “ensures kids are ALLOWED to do childhood activities on their own — walking to school, playing outside, staying alone for a while... so long as they aren’t put in obvious, serious and likely danger."