An Awful Threat To Civilization: “Free Range Kids”

Where Are all The Kids/

Where Are all The Kids/

We recall our parents, either one, sending us outside to play when we imposed upon their peace. Once outside, we met neighboring kids similarly exiled and set off in groups to learn the opportunities and threats implicit in the neighborhood. We were all subject to the same, inevitable caveat: “You’d better not be late for dinner!”

We soon knew every nook and cranny of the area and learned how to exploit them all to amuse ourselves. We knew also every kid and his (no her; girls existed in some different world of their own.) expanding world. The expansion came with our growing capabilities and knowledge as we grew. By the time we were in high school, our ‘neighborhood’ had become most of the local geography. It was all just part of “home.”

No more. Recently, a 10 and a 6 year old kid walking home from a playground were picked up by the police and their parents charged with neglect as the kids were “unsupervised” by any adult at the time. The parents were threatened by the child welfare service  with loss of the kids if they allowed a repetition of such unsupervised activities. In other cases, children have been removed from their parents. Our governors seem to have decided that perpetual supervision is mandatory for children. (And evidently for parents!)

As one might expect in America, at least for a while yet, this new and unspoken paradigm for child rearing being imposed unadvertised is being resisted by increasingly organized parents who refuse to buy it. They consider the new model suffocating and productive of dependency when the opposite is the way to produce capable, self-sufficient adults. They have banded together in time-honored American fashion to raise what they call: “Free Range Kids.” Those are kids who may be found walking home – alone- from school, from the local library or market or just out playing with their peers with no adult in sight. Just as we once did, with no one paying attention.

Most of the U.S. it develops, is less a risk for kids than our older world was, once they are aware of cars. (We often played in the streets, in residential areas.) But kids are under constant and immediate threat in the minds of so many people these days that any untended, unleashed kid is likely to result in someone calling the cops. And once on the scene, they often seem to see the situation as some sort of crime by parents. Child welfare agencies have taken on Godly authority over what constitutes acceptable child-rearing, enforced by simply taking the kids from parents of whom they disapprove. And for parents, retrieval may be so lengthy and costly a legal process as to exceed their capabilities. Parenting as defined by government …

Free Range Kids may carry a card that says: “I’m not lost; I’m a Free Range Kid.” The organization helps when the authorities move in and parents are educated on dealing with that. Some juvenile courts are now aware of the issue.

“America is a free country’ is said a lot; once it was more true than it seems now. Kids out alone isn’t the only area of friction; Federal judges have written that parents have no right to evaluate or oversee what their kids are taught in public schools. Parenting seemingly is becoming a subservient position in a state function. We see a coming collision …

We were Free Range Kids when that condition needed no title or organized group; all kids were free range kids unless their parent kept them in. Those were pitied; we wondered what was wrong with them.

Today, kids on their own are pitied and investigated to see what is wrong with them. They are a threat:  less likely to grow into compliant dependents of the state …

About Jack Curtis

Suspicious of government, doubtful of economics, fond of figure skating (but the off-ice part, not so much) Couple of degrees in government, a few medals in figure skating; just reading and suspicion for economics ...
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9 Responses to An Awful Threat To Civilization: “Free Range Kids”

  1. I think there is an awful lot more to this situation than meets the eye. When the police have the time to round up ordinary kids engaged in ordinary activities, they evidently have time on their hands. A public money saving opportunity here I think. Ordinary activities are increasingly being criminalised. The “message” appears to be – we are no longer free citizens. Don’t think of doing anything unless the state has given you permission, is in a position to supervise it, and you do it the way the state wants. Rounding up kids is a clever crowd/populace bullying ploy. The child neglect charges are clearly phoney, but the trouble caused to the parents are so disproportionate that other parents will start to confine their children more. A generation of children raised to the view that they are not allowed to go anywhere unless someone in authority has given permission will become adults easy to corral and control. They’ve been brainwashed from childhood. The state is saying – the land is ours – and you only get to use it with our permission. Sounds like the worst predictions of Agenda 21 to me.

    • Jack Curtis says:

      In another state, at least one working mother has been jailed for
      allowing her child to walk home from school alone. (Somehing normal to
      me at age 6) It seems a logical expansion of the principles of
      Progressive Education (John Dewey et al) from the 1920’s. You seem on

  2. Oh, amen to this post! We have four free range kids, mostly all grown now, and have tangled with the system multiple times. It used to baffle me as to why. They’re all good kids, we’re good parents, everyone’s happy, so what’s the problem here? Ah, I see,”free” is the problem.

    • Jack Curtis says:

      I have an awful feeling that government by its nature, sees only two
      situations: Those that it controls, and those that it does not control
      … yet. “Free” implies an intolerable additional category!

  3. james teague says:

    We ended all the way up in the mountains behind the house with bows and arrows, ran down to a library in another town, walked or rode bikes to schools 3 miles away. Once somebody tried to get me into a car, but I knew better. Once somebody exposed themselves to my elementary aged sister. We all set out to find the pervert. In the 60’s I walked into the UCLA library with a 22 rifle slung over my shoulder after visiting the range on campus. No one batted an eye. It was a different age, laughed at by the “oh so sophisticated of today” as the June Cleaver household or My Three Sons.
    Of course, then there was Law, deserved punishment, Jack Webb and Dragnet, some reason to believe that Right would prevail. Now what is right is wrong. We don’t punish the wrong doer, we give them scholarships, money, mental health treatment, because of course, they are ill, not bad.

  4. Pete says:

    Kudos Jack, an excellent article. You brought back many a memory of my childhood for this old curmudgeon. The “don’t be late for dinner” was often embellished in my house by my mother adding “or your father will get mad”. What this meant to me was that it would unleash the metaphorical “wrath of Kahn”, my father, for having to eat a dinner while missing the 6 o’clock news!

    • Jack Curtis says:

      Ah yes, … My father was The Heat for our family as well. As he was
      away at work all day, Mom could build up his wrathful image in our
      minds to her best advantage … He probably accomplished more improving
      our behavior when he was at work than when he was actually present.

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