CAROLINA FOREST, SC (WMBF) - While self-defined "free-range" parents in Maryland are appealing a child protective services decision that found them responsible for unsubstantiated child neglect after they reportedly let their 10- and 6-year-old children go to a neighborhood park to play by themselves, parents in Carolina Forest are talking about the idea of free-range parenting.
"As far as letting my child walk freely or up and down the streets of any neighborhood by herself, I don't think that's a wise choice as a parent just because of how society is today," said Monica Brisbon.
Free-range parents define themselves as the opposite of helicopter parents who hover over their children. The goal is to make modern-day childhood more like it used to be with children free to explore and gain independence.
"I was able to ride my bicycle probably three or four miles to a local pool by myself," said Thomas Frankenberry. "Parents kicked us out around 7 in the morning, come home for lunch, get back 3:30-4 for dinner. I think it should still be that way."
Frankenberry said once his son, who is two and a half right now, gets older, he's hoping to let him explore the world on his own sometimes, including going to a nearby park alone.
"If I lived within walking distance of here, I'd say probably 9 or 10 if he's by himself," Frankenberry said. "If he's with a 9- or 10-year-old, around 8, 9, 10 I wouldn't have any problem with it."
Other parents said they want supervision no matter how old the child is.
"I'm a little bit more on the protective side just because of society today and all the bad things you hear about, abductions, so I'm probably leaning on the side of more cautious," said Tommy Carnucci.
Here in South Carolina, the law states child neglect occurs when the parent or guardian fails to supply the child with supervision appropriate to the child's age and development.
A phone call is what brought the unsupervised children in Maryland to the attention of police.
Lt. Joey Crosby, public information officer for the Myrtle Beach Police Department, said the department rarely receives calls reporting children walking around by themselves.
The department would bring any possible neglect situations to the attention of the Department of Social Services, but there is no set age as to when a child can legally be allowed to roam alone.
"We have to look at each case independently and assess the case based on the facts that we receive for each particular case that we investigate," Lt. Crosby said.