Weekly Roundup

Utah Passes “Free-Range” Parenting Law – First of its Kind

After a New York mom allowed her 8-year-old son to ride the subway home alone, her story went viral with people calling her “America’s Worst Mom.” But now, the Utah state legislature is using her story as a basis for a new law.

The measure, sponsored by Utah state Sen. Lincoln Fillmore, R, exempts from the definition of child neglect various activities children can do without supervision, permitting “a child, whose basic needs are met and who is of sufficient age and maturity to avoid harm or unreasonable risk of harm, to engage in independent activities . . .” Those activities include letting children “walk, run or bike to and from school, travel to commercial or recreational facilities, play outside and remain at home unattended.” The law does not say what the “sufficient age” is.

Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert, R, signed the bill into law earlier this month after it passed unanimously in both chambers of Utah’s legislature. Critics, of course, have argued that this style is not safest for children, despite the fact that stranger abduction is rare. This story begs the question, what implications will this have for state child-welfare authorities in Utah? Will other states follow suit? You can read more about this measure here and here.

Black Students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High Speak Out

A mostly white group of Stoneman Douglas survivors started a movement after the shooting to honor the victims and rally Americans to stop gun violence. Last weekend, they took their fight for stricter gun control laws to Washington and other cities in what they called a March for Our Lives. Many citizens are lauding these young people for their achievements and bravery, but what about the African American students who attend the same school?

“I would say that our voices were not intentionally excluded, but they were not intentionally included,” said Kai Koerber, a junior. “Now more than ever, it is time to represent the diversity of our school, and the diversity in the world.” Kai is part of a group of students who feel that their Black peers were unable to muster the same kind of support as the mostly-white students have, dating all the way back to activism surrounding the Trayvon Martin death. About 11% of the high school’s 3,000 students are black.

The other students from Stoneman stand in solidarity with their African American peers, and hope that they can combine forces to shed light on Black Lives Matter in their fight. It is truly inspiring to see what these kids have accomplished in mere months, regardless of whether you agree with their point of view. You can read all about it here.

Study Finds Second-Born Brother More Likely to Get Involved in Criminal Justice System

A new study conducted at MIT found that second-born children are more likely to break the law. It looked at hundreds of sets of brothers and found that the younger counterparts were 20-40% more likely to get in trouble at school and enter the criminal justice system.

Those who conducted the study have a few theories as to why this may be the case. Parents often don’t dote on their second-born children as much as they do on their first-born. They tend to spend less one-on-one time with them and are often less enthusiastic about doing engaging activities like reading bedtime stories and playing games. Parents also tend to take less time off from work with a second-born child. As a result, second-born children may feel like they have to compete for their parents’ attention and may act out more. You can read more about the study here.

It will be interesting to see whether this study has any implications on the school-to-prison pipeline research already being conducted across the country. Why does “getting in trouble at school” have to immediately translate to “entering the criminal justice system”? Is this study biased in and of itself? Regardless, it is important for parents to think critically about how their parenting style may shift from child to child and how that will effect their children long term.

Molly Bagshaw

About Molly Bagshaw

Molly is a second-year law student at the University of Houston Law Center. Molly graduated from Princeton University in 2013 with a degree in sociology, African American studies, and spanish. Molly then served as a Teach for America corps member for two years in a Title One school in Fort Worth, Texas and spent the next year working for the San Francisco Public Defender's Office. Molly has worked for numerous lawyers and public defenders, and is committed to a career in indigent defense. She is excited to be spending this summer working at the Juvenile Public Defender in Travis County to pursue this goal in an environment that encompasses everything she is passionate about.

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