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Only 1 Utah city is among the safest for free-range parenting

In this April 6, 2018, photo, Caleb Coulter, 10, left, and his sister Kendra, 12, play tag during a visit to the Place Heritage Park in Salt Lake City. Critics say letting children strike out on their own can expose them to serious dangers. But lawmakers
In this April 6, 2018, photo, Caleb Coulter, 10, left, and his sister Kendra, 12, play tag during a visit to the Place Heritage Park in Salt Lake City. Critics say letting children strike out on their own can expose them to serious dangers. But lawmakers and advocates in several states say the protective pendulum has swung too far. They want to send a message that parents who raise their children in a healthy environment can grant them more freedom. Amy Coulter, mother of Caleb and Kendra, said she doesn't call herself a free-range parent. But she does avoid intervening with teachers on her older children's grades and encourages her children to use their own money to buy things at the grocery store. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Rick Bowmer

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah may be pioneering the free-range parenting movement. But its cities might not be so great for the new style.

A new report from Safewise ranked only one Utah city among the 30 safest cities for free-range parenting.

That city is Bountiful, which ranked at No. 18 on the list. The city received a “safety score” rank of 84.15.

For comparison, the safest city for free-range parenting, Easton, Maryland, received a safety score of 89.45.

The list ranked each city on eight different factors, including walkability, violent crime rate and other factors.

Other top five cities on the list included: Keene, New Hampshire; Takoma Park, Maryland, and Village of Shorewood, Wisconsin, among several others.

Here’s what the report said about Bountiful:

“Just minutes from downtown Salt Lake City, Bountiful is a walkable town with a charming Main Street and plentiful parks. Come snow or sun, you’ll see kids safely walking down to the community rec center or partaking in citywide activities like the annual chalk art festival on Main Street.”

Safewise — an online safety resource company that helps families make informed decisions about safety — said this report will help parents understand their neighborhoods’ safety.

“While parents always strive to keep their kids safe, it helps to have a community that’s willing to focus on both family-friendly and pedestrian safety initiatives that make the difference. These are the cities across America that make one of the toughest and most rewarding jobs you’ll ever undertake a little less stressful,” Kaz Weida of SafeWise said in a statement sent to the Deseret News.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert signed a law legalizing free-range parenting back in March, according to the Deseret News, which was “the country's first measure to formally legalize allowing kids to do things on their own to foster self-sufficiency.”

The law said “that it isn't neglectful to let kids do things alone like travel to school, explore a playground or stay in the car.”

Utah’s law sparked national headlines from ABC News, The New York Times, BBC and NPR, among several others.

“The statutory definition of neglect in Utah was broad enough that anyone could say a child playing alone in a park was being neglected,” Utah state Sen. Lincoln Fillmore, a Republican, told The New York Times. “Neglect should not mean letting your kids play by themselves in the park or walk home from school alone.”