For those who worry American kids are too coddled, the “Free Range Kids” movement was the perfect antidote. Forget about being one of those coddling helicopter parents — let your kid play in the dirt, let him skin his knee, let him walk to school by himself. In the style of a 2009 Times trend piece, letting your child do things by itself had become a bravely iconoclastic choice:
[Lori] Pierce faces another obstacle to becoming a free-range mother: public opinion.
Last spring, her son, 10, announced he wanted to walk to soccer practice rather than be driven, a distance of about a mile. Several people who saw the boy walking alone called 911. A police officer stopped him, drove him the rest of the way and then reprimanded Mrs. Pierce. According to local news reports, the officer told Mrs. Pierce that if anything untoward had happened to the boy, she could have been charged with child endangerment. Many felt the officer acted appropriately and that Mrs. Pierce had put her child at risk.
As part of the bubblings of a nationwide cultural trends against overparenting, the “free-range kids” movement seemed like it might pick up steam. But humans are nothing if not reactive: With the murder of 8-year-old Leibby Kletzky, abducted as he was walking three blocks home from summer camp, will those same parents who once let their kids run free now draw them close?
We don’t know for sure, so we want to hear from you.
• How closely did you supervise your kid before? Did you let them walk to school by themselves?
• Has the Kletzky kidnapping made you reconsider how closely you watch your kids?