Couple's "free-range" parenting style raises concerns - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Couple's "free-range" parenting style raises concerns

Rachel Wickware likes to keep her children close. Rachel Wickware likes to keep her children close.
CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - For the second time in four months, police in Maryland picked up two children as they walked home alone from a park that is about a mile from their house.

Instead of taking them home this time, police took the children, ages 6 and 10, to child protective services.

The parents believe in "free-range" parenting, which includes letting their children play and walk alone in the neighborhood to teach them self-reliance and responsibility.

Rachel Wickware, a parent in Cape Girardeau, would likely disagree.

She keeps a tight rein on her kids.

"They don't get out of my sight to often," Wickware said. "They are always close by. They don't go too far without mommy."

Wickware says the days of staying out until the street lights come on are long gone.

"Someone is always out looking to prowl with your kids or take them," Wickware said. "You can't trust no body now days. And I don't trust no body."

Licensed counselor Bob Dale, a therapist for the Dale and Hancock Center, blames technology.

"We're concerned about what they are doing with their smartphones, what they are doing with their tablets, what they are doing with their computers, what other people are transmitting to them via internet and cyberspace," Dale said.

He emphasizes that every child is different, however, Dale says there are some general truths.

"A seven-year-old is less capable of fending off a danger from an adult, or an older kid, than a 14 year old," Dale said.

That is why he says children typically need some structure.

"I've sat down with my 11 year old once to tell him to look out for somebody who offered him marijuana," Dale said. "He told me it had already happened. So if kids are running around free range there's more of an opportunity for things like that to happen."

For Wickware, it comes down to safety.

"My babies are my pride and joy... as long as i know it's not safe on the roads, they'll be by my side wherever we go."

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