About Author


Carly Hoilman is a columnist at CatholicVote.org, and a freelance culture writer and editor based in the greater Philadelphia area. She is a wife, mother, Catholic convert, and alumna of The King's College in New York City. You can find her writings at CatholicVote, TheBlaze, Conservative Review, and Faithwire. Follow her work on Twitter @carlyhoilman.


  1. Ask cops about letting your kids go out in public alone and this is what they’ll tell you: gangs (of every nationality, this isn’t regional) look for vulnerable kids and teens. They have spotters posted around shopping areas on the phone with guys in vans in the parking lot. Spotter calls van as target approaches exit. Van drives up, grabs victim, is back in the van and driving off in a second, knocks them out, administers heroin, or something else to make them manageable. Drives off, prostitutes victim. Let’s them go when they’re no longer attractive. Happens all the time, teens, kids, boys, girls. Our parish organized a talk for parents on this and other safety issues. The policewoman who gave the talk to us said she first heard about this in a training course and then found out it had happened to her daughter’s friend and her cousin. The friend fought and got dropped, and the cousin was found and rescued, but the cousin wound up a 14 year old heroin addict.

    Lenore Skenazy is no parenting expert. Read her writings. When she let her nine year old son ride home on the New York subway alone, she didn’t let him take her cell phone, because, as she said, “he might lose it”. If the kid can’t keep track of a cell phone, probably not appropriate to hope he can survive the subway. Sure he got home safely, but dumb luck is not a parenting strategy. The phone she’ll keep with her to keep it safe, the kid she lets loose.

    Skenazy’s theory is predicated on probabilities. She harps on how unlikely it is that something will happen to your kid. It isn’t that free ranging is safe. Somebody will surely get kidnapped and trafficked, but it “probably” won’t happen to your kid. Good enough?

    Free-range parenting isn’t parenting, it’s foisting your responsibilities on to other adults. Who hasn’t been out somewhere and seen a kid doing something rotten and said to themself, “where are that kid’s parents?!” Or had to interfere so a kid doesn’t hurt himself or others? Please, don’t sell this baloney.

    I was a youth minister and worked with about 500 families in the course of my job. Between 3pm and 6pm, there are a lot of “free range” kids, from the school bell to when their parents get home. Ask a cop when kids get in trouble. 3-6pm. Drugs, sex, porn, vandalism, theft, gangs, dumb stunts, bullying, crazy driving, that’s the prime time for it. Just because you don’t know about it doesn’t mean your kid isn’t doing it. Just means they’re trickier than you. I saw this all the time: I’d find out who was sleeping around, in a gang, doing drugs, drinking, looking at porn, dabbling in satanism, cutting (as in, self-mutilation) etc, and the parents pretty much had no idea until we had uncomfortable meetings.

    But the real problem with free ranging is not how much of a danger to himself and others a kid can be. You can, and should, be parenting in such a way that there is some hope your kid wil not act like a savage. The scarier problem is what’s completely outside of your control, and that’s the surrounding threats of perverts, drug pushers, porn pushers, traffickers, the internet, etc.

    Free range is for poultry. Kids have underdeveloped frontal lobes, so we protect them. They make bad decisions. They’re small enough for people to pick up. If someone steals my free range chickens, meh. If someone steals my kid, I’m going to hate myself forever for not doing a better job and the improbability of it happening will not comfort me or them.

    There is a BIG difference between teaching your kid to cook and letting them roam the city. Skenazy is promoting the latter, so please don’t give her air time. Of course we should teach ours kids all the skills they need for adulthood. But that is not the same as leaving them in the parking lot while we run errands (kids die every summer from this, by the way, as the car heats up and bakes them alive) or sending them to the mall alone.

    Catholic Vote, don’t even sell this kind of dangerous, irresponsible crap. This is not Catholic. Sure, maybe we can’t protect children without infringing on people’s right to be irresponsible, but we at least shouldn’t give air time to people like Skenazy. As an upper middle class lady, she’s making money off promoting what every crack ho has done for years: just let the kids go, they’ll probably be okay. They gotta learn how to survive, right?

    So, so wrong.

  2. I would hope this law will also take effect in all the other states. It’s so sad when parents can’t raise their children the way many of us were raised. I do not justify using a belt or slapping and hitting a child but a good spanking is in order many times. Plus a child needs to explore and also needs to learn to be responsible.

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