Update: Is "Free-Range Parenting" Considered Child Neglect in Texas?
Posted July 29, 2019 ------------ Updated November 15, 2021
A recent change in the law makes Texas the third state in the country to pass a free-range parenting law. Under the new law – which went into effect September 1 – parents will no longer have the threat of a Department of Family and Protective Services investigation for neglect or the possibility of losing custody of their child to the state for allowing certain activities outlined in the new law.
Under the Reasonable Childhood Independence law, parents are allowed to decide if their children can play outside, walk to a friend’s home, stay home alone, or engage in other activities that are age-appropriate without the fear of being accused of neglecting their child. According to the new law, the state will no longer intervene and remove a child from their home unless “the danger is so great and so likely that it outweighs the trauma of entering the foster care system.”
Although the new law should decrease the number of unfounded child neglect accusations, there are still circumstances where these accusations can be made. If you have been accused of child abuse or neglect, contact The Crowder Law Firm, P.C. to find out how our firm can help.
Every parent has their own unique parenting style, and rightfully so. Some parents get the nickname “helicopter parent” since they tend to be overprotective, while others are much more laid back, sometimes so much so that they are labeled a bad parent. Despite the preference of each parent, there are four common parenting styles: authoritarian, authoritative, permissive, and uninvolved. Authoritarian parents use punishments more than discipline, teaching their child obedience. Authoritative parents enforce the rules but in a more positive fashion. Permissive parents use the theory “kids will be kids,” allowing their kids to make their own rules. Uninvolved parents do not provide much guidance or attention and are fairly detached from their kids. One particular type of parenting has gained attention in recent years for its “laissez-faire” outlook on parenting, with some declaring that this style constitutes child neglect.
What Is "Free-Range Parenting?"
Free-range parenting gives kids a lot of freedom with less supervision. According to a clinical professor at Yale School of Medicine, “free-range parenting emphasizes the child’s functioning independently with judicious parental supervision.” This form of parenting does not mean there are no rules, but it allows kids to do many things on their own. The idea is to allow kids to make their own mistakes and learn from them without having their parents constantly by their side. The term was coined by Lenore Skenazy after she released an article about letting her 9-year-old son navigate the New York City subway alone. This story and this form of parenting have been under fire ever since.
What Is Texas’s Stance on Free-Range Parenting?
Over a year ago, there were rumors that a “free-range parenting law” was being drafted by the Texas Public Policy Foundation Center for Families and Children. It would protect those who practice this type of parenting from falling victim to legal action being taken against them. At this point in time, the law has not been passed, meaning that such parents could face legal consequences for the way they look or do not look after their kids.
There are various forms of child neglect recognized by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, including the following:
Neglectful supervision means the child was left alone and provided improper levels of supervision that could have lead to substantial harm.
Medical neglect refers to the failure to seek, obtain, or administer proper medical treatments.
Physical neglect is committed by parents who fail to provide their children with adequate clothing, food, and shelter.
Abandonment and refusal to accept parental responsibility occur when a parent leaves a child in a potentially harmful situation and does not plan to return for the child.
Contact a Plano, TX Neglect and Abandonment Attorney
It can be easy to portray free-range parenting as child neglect, and parents who take a more "hands-off" approach to parenting could end up facing serious charges without a skilled criminal defense attorney fighting on their side. While you may not believe that your parenting style is inadequate, the classifications of child neglect described above could potentially be used against you. At Crowder Law Firm, P.C., we have over 20 years of experience in the practice of criminal law with more than 250 acquittals and not-guilty verdicts for our clients. If you are facing charges of child neglect or abandonment, contact our Collin County criminal defense lawyer at 214-303-9600 for a free consultation.