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Rhode Island Bill Would Punish Parents for Latch-key Kids

Rhode Island Bill Would Punish Parents for Latch-key Kids

“You can’t legislate parenting, and you can’t legislate common sense”

You may recall the Silver Spring, Maryland case of parents being charged with “unsubstantiated neglect” for allowing their children, ages 10 and 6, to walk home from a local park.  This, along with similar incidents, sparked a debate about “free-range kids,” the role government should take in parenting, and the relative dangers of and safety concerns about children walking outside without a parent or guardian present.

The Washington Post reported about it at the time:

Long before the Meitivs of Silver Spring clashed with Montgomery County over their young children’s walk home alone from a park, other parents across the country were at odds with authorities over similar questions: How much supervision do children need, and when are they truly at risk?

In Austin, Kari Anne Roy, 38, a children’s author, was investigated for neglect after her children walked the dog one day in August and her 6-year-old lagged behind, playing on an outdoor bench a few houses down the street.

In Port St. Lucie, Fla., Nicole Gainey, 35, a mother of two, was arrested for letting her 7-year-old son walk alone to a park and play there, about half a mile away from their home in the town where she grew up.

One of most the most publicized recent cases involved Debra Harrell in North Augusta, S.C., who allegedly allowed her 9-year-old daughter to play at a park while she worked at a McDonald’s as a shift manager.

The particulars of such cases are different, cutting across lines of economics, geography and circumstances. But they point to a tension about how safe the world really is, what parents should do to protect their children and when the government should intercede.

Rhode Island thinks it may have the answer to this last question about when the government should intercede.  The legislature there is proposing a bill that would, among other things like set age restrictions on which children can go outside and play during recess if it’s cold, punish parents who leave their children “home alone” or in a car for too long.

The AP reports:

Parents who fear the judgment of neighbors if they leave their kids alone at home or in a car may soon have more than a “tsk, tsk” to worry about in Rhode Island.

State lawmakers are debating a bill that would punish parents for leaving a child younger than 7 alone in a car. They’ve also proposed legislation to ban kids under 10 from being home alone and older kids from being home alone at night. Legislation could even extend to private preschools, where a bill would ban outdoor recess when the temperature drops below freezing.

The pushback against such measures is quite strong.

The AP continues:

Rhode Island’s efforts come years after many other states implemented such measures, but have been met by counterattacks from a growing movement of parents who say enough is enough.

“You can’t legislate parenting, and you can’t legislate common sense,” said Rema Tomka, who is raising three kids in the leafy Providence suburb of Smithfield.

. . . . Helping to spread the parental outrage and mobilize opposition was [Lenore] Skenazy, who has repeatedly ridiculed Rhode Island lawmakers.

“These laws are preposterous,” she wrote in her blog. “They assume it is the government’s job to dictate family life. They criminalize maturity in children and common sense in parents, and turn mundane decisions — like running out to do an errand — into legal minefields.”

Skenazy’s blog, “Free Range Kids,” advocates keeping parental duties and responsibilities with parents and not shifting them over to government.

Watch her 2014 interview with Reason TV:

Not only are citizens and advocates pushing back, but the AP article notes that even Rhode Island state health officials see a potential problem with a flood of phone calls from neighbors and concerned strangers about situations that “aren’t a safety risk.”  Presumably each report would need to be checked out and followed up, and the potential cost to the state for investigating everything from spiteful neighbor reports to genuinely concerned, but erroneous, people reporting situations that are perfectly safe for the children involved.

[Featured image via AP]


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“There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power government has is the power to crack down on criminals. When there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.”

This in nothing more than a power and control grab by people who can’t even run their own lives but think they can run the lives of everyone else. Time to cut off the tax funds for this silly expansion of gov.

“Show me the man and I will find you the crime”

– Beria, (supposedly), Soviet NKVD head

    DaveGinOly in reply to PrincetonAl. | March 20, 2016 at 1:21 pm

    “If one would give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest man, I would find something in them to have him hanged.”
    Cardinal Richelieu

And despite all these laws trying to protect children from the dangers of of what they consider to be bad parenting, they are the first in line to support unrestricted abortion. Joseph Heller could never write anything this absurd.

    cjharrispretzer in reply to Cleetus. | March 20, 2016 at 10:51 am

    Indeed. And in addition, you have Family Courts who mandate visitation and custody of children to unfit parents on an ongoing basis. The govt forces kids to spend time with abusive parents, even when the abuse is documented.
    I despise the govt. I want them to leave me alone as a parent.

Looking at the trend, it’s time to start making predictions:

When do we start building statues of comrade Lenin ?

Paul In Sweden | March 20, 2016 at 12:24 pm

I’m all for free range kids and parents with common sense. I traveled 1.5 hours from Astoria on the subway to High School in the Bronx when 2500-2700 people were murdered each year in NYC and the crime rate was much, much higher although Bill de Blasio as Mayor and demon spawn of Mario(Andrew Cuomo)as Governor seem to have been bat at hell bent on bring NYC back to the worst of times.

The blade cuts both ways.

On one side we have fat bottomed bureaucrats that make ridiculous proclamations forbidding parents from disciplining and raising their kids.

On the other side, we have parents that completely abdicate all responsibility of raising their children allowing them to maraud around and pillage our communities.

The most visible gripe I have is that of hoards of preteen and younger children wandering around the streets of Europe and America and hanging out on corners with drug dealers, pimps and prostitutes.

It makes me sick when I read a newspaper article along the lines of — a 9 year old that was shot at 3am on a school night while standing on a drug corner during a drive-by-shooting. WTF was a 9 year old child doing standing on a drug corner at 3am?

Children’s services here in Europe(OMG just read some of the things going on in the UK that Christopher Booker in his Sunday columns has been able to get in print in-spite of the ridiculous gag orders) and back home in the USA is insane.

Here is one example:
Police ignore judge’s order, to help Latvian family escape British social workers – Telegraph

Why was a stoned out of his mind Treyvon Martin, while expelled from his school after the proceeds from a dozen or more home burglaries found in his school locker, with burglar tools and remnants of drug packaging wandering around the home of one of his father’s longtime girlfriends when his father had custody of Treyvon to reel him in and keep a tight leash on things?

You can’t legislate parenting or morality but it seems our governments can use schools & Family Services Departments to destroy the moral standards that were once prevalent in America & Europe.

There is a problem but this problem is one that has been built on the last few generations of purposeful societal and government destruction.

What is the solution? I do not know but DeNiro in the film ‘Taxi driver’ while cruising the scum soaked streets of Times Square which I remember from the not so distant past and perhaps the near future said We Need a Hard Rain To Fall to Wash It All Away.

We need a flood, a really, really big flood, bigger than the last time or an intervention as happened with Sodom & Gomorrah.

There are few boundaries in our societies anymore. Crap on a Cracker! It is only in the last year that the Animal Brothels where twisted sex psychopaths would pay to have sex with chained down animals were closed down in Denmark.

Recently the ‘youth wing’ of the ruling Social Democrats here in Sweden announced they want to legalize incest and necrophilia along with any laws that have anything remotly to do with morality(Christ Almighty it was only in the last few years that bestiality was made illegal again here in Sweden after it was made illegal along with homosexuality in the early part of WWII – the Agriculture Minister in Sweden over the recent years held up making bestiality illegal again because he said words to the effect ‘how do we know the animals are being treated badly and object?’). I read little science fiction because I find that what is happening all around me is so much scarier and way out there in the non-fiction section just outside my window. Reality it seems is not even an afterthought and is not even considered with regards to social and societal boundaries.

People can be incarcerated in a USA prison and develop an Illegal Drug dependency. WTF hope do we have with our societies. We all know it, how does this make sense?

Parenting… Nope, the government is not the solution.

All I think is that We Need A Real Hard Rain To Fall.

Don’t many children in large urban cities use public transportation to get to school? Better playing in a neighborhood park than riding a NYC bus with the dregs.

    Milhouse in reply to katiejane. | March 21, 2016 at 12:31 pm

    What dregs? Who exactly do you think is riding the MTA buses? Every bus, by definition, has a responsible adult on board who can take care of emergencies.

What is wrong with being a latch key kid? I was one and I grew up in a medium sized city in the south.

My Mother raised me by herself, she held down 2 to 3 jobs to make sure we could live. So yes after school I came home to an empty house and locked myself in. So I found a love of books and learning to pass the time. When Mom got home at night I would get ready for bed and then she would spend time with me until it was time to sleep.

The net result of that upbringing is someone who had the reading level of a collage Jr. in the 8th grade, someone who has read thousands of books, someone who is proud of his time in the Army, and someone who as served in the nursing profession for 20 years this year. She also raised me to be the Man that she though a man should be, so I am more Southern Gentleman than modern times would usually produce.

So the BS about latch key kids is just that, BS.

The difference with Latch key kids today, is that even though I was a latch key kid, my mother parented and when she got home she was never to tired to listen to me, (even though now as an adult I realize that she was always tired, but loved me enough to give me the time I needed.), and to love me. She was also willing to discipline me when I needed it.

The problem is that with today’s Latch Key kids that parenting part doesn’t happen nearly as much as it should.

Ok, Rant over.

P.S. Thanks Mom, all my love.

    Great post, Gremlin. I was a latch-key kid, too, for several hours each day. Both of my parents had full-time jobs, and I was home alone from after school until they came home. During that time, I did my homework, my chores, and watched the new television channel MTV.

    I was allowed to have one friend over if I told my parents in advance, and I was also allowed to spend those hours at a friend’s house if my parents knew in advance where I was.

    When my parents got home, I helped my mom cook dinner (unless dad was barbequing, then I’d “help” him), either way, each of my parents asked about my day, whether I’d done all my homework, etc.

    I was a happy, healthy, and loved kid who was smart enough not to talk to strangers, burn the house down, or otherwise violate my parents’ trust.

    There is nothing wrong being a latch-key kid, and if you’d told me–or my parents–that one day the state would punish them for being “negligent” parents, we would have laughed in your face. Times have certainly changed.

      Gremlin1974 in reply to Fuzzy Slippers. | March 21, 2016 at 2:28 am

      Well we both know its not about the kids, its about forcing people to be more dependent on the government. Because with that law they can force one parent to stay home and thus need help to survive.