Free-range parenting laws letting kids roam could catch on

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.

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - After Utah passed the country's first law legalizing so-called free-range parenting, groups in states from New York to Texas are pushing for similar steps to bolster the idea that supporters say is an antidote for anxiety-plagued parents and overscheduled kids.

Free-range parenting is the concept that giving kids the freedom to do things alone - like explore a playground or ride a bike to school - makes them healthier, happier and more resilient.

It surfaced nearly a decade ago, when Lenore Skenazy touched off a firestorm with a column about letting her then-9-year-old son ride the New York City subway alone. Since then, she's become a vocal advocate for free-range parenting.

Critics say letting kids strike out on their own can expose them to serious dangers, from criminals to cars.