Mother of 'free range’ kids shares her story with Glenn

Do you remember being a kid and running wild in the neighborhood? Not anymore! In fact, now you can get in trouble for something called “free range parenting.” A Maryland family found this out the hard way when their kids were taken into custody by the police after they were found at the park without adult supervision. On radio this morning, Glenn spoke with Lenore Skenazy, founder of FreeRangeKids.com, about this story and why and how parents should start letting their kids grow without constant supervision.

Below is a rush transcript of this segment:

GLENN: Lenore Skenazy, she is a woman who started freerangekids.com. And she -- I believe, Lenore, you're the one who coined this phrase.

LENORE: Yeah, I am. Hi.

GLENN: How are you?

LENORE: Very good. Kind of exhausted.

GLENN: You were a woman who was in trouble with the Department of Children and Families. When was it? Back in January?

LENORE: It was 2008. I have to say that I wasn't actually in trouble with the authorities. I was in trouble with the media because I let my 9-year-old ride the subway alone, which is something he had been asking to do. And my husband and I decided he was ready and so were we. So I wrote a column after he had taken the little trip. And I called it why I let my 9-year-old ride the subway alone here in New York City. Two days after the column appeared, I was on the Today Show, MSNBC, Fox News, NPR, you name it. And being decried as America's worst mom because how dare you let your children do anything alone. So I started free-range kids, my blog that weekend to explain that I'm very -- I say I'm a nervous mom. I love car seats. Seat belts. Mouth guards. If you have a birth -- you know, a baby shower, the gifts I always bring, I'm so boring, predictable, I bring a fire extinguisher. I believe in safety. I just don't think our kids need a security detail every time they leave the house. And, apparently, that is controversial to this day.

GLENN: So tell me about the stranger danger myth. Because we were trying to figure this out. We were talking about this yesterday. And we were like, nothing is -- this is -- things have gotten better since we were kids, and none of us would consider doing it. And we all know that it's unreasonable that we should.

LENORE: Right. That we should let our kids go outside and play?

GLENN: Yes. Pat wouldn't let his daughter -- he like had a heart attack. She was like, dad, I want to go literally half a block down to the lake. He was like, no. No. No.

PAT: She's 15.

GLENN: She's 15. He let her do it. But he freaked out.

LENORE: Wow. Well, first of all, congratulations. I'm glad you let it happen.

PAT: Yeah. Thank you. Very proud.

LENORE: What I've noticed over the years is that once we let our kids do something on their own, provided they're not arrested by the police, let them walk to school, let them make dinner, let them ride their bike to the library and back, generally you end up so proud from just that one incident, seeing your kid being this competent blossoming young man and woman instead of little vulnerable baby that we are sort of encouraged to think of our kids as. That pride allows to you give them even more freedom. And that's always been the way it has been with human beings. You know, you see your human growing up. It's bittersweet. This is the little girl I carried. Not anymore. But, look, she's growing up.

So if you're asking how did we get to this point where all of us who played outside until the street lights came on won't let our kids do that until they're 29.

GLENN: Wait. Wait. You should do it at 29?

STU: Thirty-five.

LENORE: With an escort, of course. And by escort, I mean, police escort.

STU: Okay.

LENORE: The way we got to this point is that we've had really fear shoved down our throats for the last 20 or 30 years, ever since -- you know, there's a bunch of reasons. But the media discovered, first with the Etan Patz case and then with the very sad -- equally sad Adam Walsh case, that there's no story that grips viewers, that gets eyeballs, that gets ratings as that of a white middle class child who is abducted.

PAT: So, Lenore, how did you break free of that? Because it sounds like a frightening thing to let your 9-year-old ride the subway in New York.

GLENN: One, you stop listening to WOR TV, where it says, it's 10 o'clock. Do you know where your children are?

PAT: My gosh. No, he's on the subway.

Was it a white-knuckled thing? Were you scared the whole time he was away? Did you follow behind him at first? How did you let go like that?

LENORE: How did I let go? I think what makes me a little different is that I don't watch a lot of TV news. And I think that is very freeing. I think the reason our parents let us go -- you know, my mom let me walk to school as a kindergartener, not because she was some free-range nut who didn't care if I lived or died, but because back then -- this is how old I am. I'm probably older than you, Glenn. Back then, there was only a half hour of news at night. They just didn't spend it all talking about some horrible tragedy that happened 17 states away. And so if you're not sort of reading in every day the terrible sadness that the news is bound and determined to show you, it's a lot easier to let go. Some people say like, well, you know, you're living in a la-la land. Don't you watch the news? It's like, the news is not reality either. It's what horrible thing happened to .0001 sad percent of the population today. And if I made my decisions based on that, I could never let my kids do anything, including eat solid foods or walk down the stairs because kids die doing those things too.

GLENN: I know you're a fan of Gavin de Becker. Gavin de Becker is the protection detail that we have for my family and company. And he's a remarkable guy. And he has been involved in the rescue of children who have been kidnapped before. And he says that a child is vastly more likely to have a heart attack than to be kidnapped.

LENORE: I know.

PAT: Wow. Jeez.

GLENN: And child heart attacks are so rare that no one ever considers the risk.

LENORE: It is so hard to keep risk in perspective when all you see are the very rare, very sad stories. And we also have something that I consider kind of babyish about our society today, which is that, we demand that if something isn't 100 percent safe, 100 percent of the time, it's dangerous. I mean, we really see no gradations. This is leading us to crazy things like in Spokane. They just decided -- Spokane, Washington, they decided to do away with swings on all the playgrounds. That's because there's no guarantee that every child who swings in America for the next ten years will never fall off or, you know, hurt themselves. And it's true. We can't guarantee that. But you also can't guarantee that a kid in her bedroom won't be stolen. I mean, once in a while, something terrible happens. And if you're basing all your everyday decisions on the very worst-case scenario, you will start acting crazy like Spokane is and getting rid of all the swings. So kids don't get to go on swings at the playground anymore.

GLENN: Beyond that, when I was at the -- what is it -- the north rim. Which is the Native American side? The north rim of the Grand Canyon. Or the south rim. I can't remember. Well, the one that is not the American side. I went there. And there are no guardrails.

LENORE: Wow.

GLENN: There are no fences. It's just cliff canyon.

LENORE: Wow. That's scary.

GLENN: It was bizarre. Because it's obviously dangerous.

LENORE: Right.

GLENN: And I was talking to the guide, and I said, there are no fences. There are no guardrails or anything. And he said, no, it's not America. And I said, holy cow. And he said, but if you look at the stats, there are problems on the American side of the canyon because they put a false sense of security, and so people are like -- they'll look over the fence. And they'll fall because they're cheating death. He said, here everybody stays away from the rim. You have to be a real dummy to approach the rim.

LENORE: How fascinating.

GLENN: Yeah. It's amazing.

LENORE: So when I spoke with the head of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. They're the people that put the pictures of the missing kids on the milk cartons. Remember those? Made us think that kids are being snatched left and right and forgot to mention that most of them were taken in custody disputes or runaways.

But anyways, when I spoke to him, he too said that this stranger danger idea was a, quote, unquote, myth we are trying to explode. And he said something that reminds me of your Grand Canyon story which is that the safest kids are the ones who have sort of self-confidence and street smarts. And the way you get those is by doing some stuff -- again, it's called self-confidence. It's not parent-assisted confidence. So you sort of almost have to let people have some experiences in the real world, almost like get as close as they feel comfortable to the edge of that cliff without saying, you can stand here. And here's a guardrail. And here's an emergency number to call. And here's somebody watching you.

GLENN: Right.

LENORE: You must let kids have some independence if you want them to be sensible and safe. And so the idea that we're keeping kids safe by not allowing them on a sunny Sunday afternoon to play -- a 10-year-old and a 6-year-old together in their local park. And we think that that's too dangerous. If you ask me what's dangerous, it's not letting your kids play in the park.

GLENN: Lenore, hang on the phone. I want to ask you one more question. That is this, how do we handle when somebody calls 911 on our kids because they're half a block away playing by themselves. How do you not get the state involved? We'll go to that here in just a second.

LENORE: That's a great question.

GLENN: Lenore Skenazy, by the way, she speaks all over the country. And she's absolutely fantastic. If you'd like her to speak at your group, Lenorespeaks.com. Lenorespeaks.com. Or you can go to freerangekids.com.

[BREAK]

GLENN: We have Lenore Skenazy on the phone with us from Freerangekids.com talking about the story out of Silver Springs, Maryland, where these parents had their kids, ten and six, go to the park. They dropped them off at the park. It's half a block away from their house. The kids walk all the time. They're responsible kids. Somebody called 911 and said, there's no adult watching these kids. The police came, picked them up, took them to the Department of Family and Child Services, and they're now under threat of losing their kids again.

I think this is insane.

LENORE: Yes. Sorry.

GLENN: No. No.

LENORE: Listen. I think it's insane too.

GLENN: I was going to say. But, A, how do we get to the place -- because everything you've said, Lenore, I agree with. So how do we get to the point to where we can -- how do we ease into it? And then how do we stop others from calling 911, or what do we do when the state shows up and says -- because this is what they said. They were responsible for child neglect.

LENORE: Yeah. Child neglect. Like all our parents who neglected us and all we could do was go outside and play. Wow, those horrible neglectful parents. Every single parent in the '60s, '70s, and '80s, I guess, was one of those. So this is a question that I've puzzled over on a daily basis. And I've come up with a couple of ways that I think we can try to fight back the criminalization of very decent parents.

One is, I have a bill of rights. It's one sentence long. And I'm trying to get people to introduce it to a town hall meeting, to a city council meeting, to a PTA meeting. Anywhere they can. It's simply this. It's the free-range kids bill of rights. Kids and parents bill of rights. And it is: That our children have a right to some unsupervised time, and we have the right to give it to them without being arrested. It's that simple.

STU: Radical.

LENORE: We all know that we loved unsupervised time when we were growing up. We all know that if you look at the FBI statistics, crime is down today. It's not just down because we're helicoptering kids. It's down against -- the murder rate is down. And arson and burglary and assault. So these are actually safer times than when most of us were growing up. So considering that crime is down and that we know that letting kids play outside is a time-honored thing that parents have done forever, we should be able to give that to our children without threat of arrest. I think CPS exists for a reason. And you're actually harming a kid and if it's obvious and indisputable and immediate, the harm that they're in, grab those kids away from those parents. But don't grab away kids who happen to be playing at a park near their house. There's just a world of difference between those two scenarios.

GLENN: What's the second idea?

LENORE: Second idea is something I started about a month ago. It's this free thing I put on my site. You can go to it directly. It's called freerangefriend.com. And all you do is you enter your ZIP code. If you want to, you can enter the ages or genders of your kids or not. But it allows you to find other free-range parents in your neighborhood. Because one reason that people are calling 911 when they see a kid outside, is that they never see any other kids outside. It's like seeing an escaped gazelle. I just saw this thing on the street. It was small. It had pigtails. I don't know what it is.

[laughter]

Then asking the officer to catch it with the net.

GLENN: Lenore, I have to break. I have a hard network break. But I want to give that. It's freerangefriends.com?

LENORE: Freerangefriend.com.

GLENN: Okay. Freerangefriend.com. Freerangekids.com. And if you would like Lenore to come speak at one of your events, she's absolutely tremendous as you've just heard. Lenorespeaks.com. Lenore, thank you so much. God bless.

LENORE: Oh, thank you, Glenn. Thank you for having me on.

Are your kids doing well in school? They might not be doing as well as you think.

A recent study found that the majority of parents in the US think their children are doing better in school than they actually are, and we largely have COVID to thank for that.

Due to the disastrous educational and social policies implemented during the COVID pandemic, millions of kids across the country are lagging and are struggling to catch up. They are further impeded by technology addiction, mental illness, and the school system, which is trying to mask just how bad things are. However, due to continued COVID-era policies like grade inflation, your kid's report card may not reflect the fallen educational standards since 2020.

Here are five facts that show the real state of America's youngest citizens. It's time to demand that schools abandon the harmful COVID-era policies that are failing to set our children up for success.

Gen Alpha is struggling to read

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Literacy is the foundation of education. Being able to read and write is paramount to learning, so when a young student struggles to gain literacy, it severely impacts the rest of their education. According to a 2021 report from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP):

In 2019, some 35 percent of 4th-grade students and 34 percent of 8th-grade students performed at or above NAEP Proficient.

This means that 65 percent of 4th-graders and 66 percent of 8th-graders performed below NAEP proficient. As to be expected, the effects of this lack of literacy are still being felt. A 2024 report called the "Education Recovery Scorecard" created by Harvard and Stanford researchers found that in 17 states, students are more than a third of a grade level behind pre-pandemic levels. Moreover, in 14 states, students are more than a third of a grade level behind in reading specifically.

Grade inflation

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If you thought the U.S. dollar was the only thing suffering from inflation, you would unfortunately be mistaken. Grades are also being inflated, caused by more lenient grading practices that began during the pandemic and have yet to return to normal. While students undoubtedly love this practice at the momentafter all, who doesn't like an easy A?in the long run, it only makes their lives more difficult.

This practice has seen attendance and test scores drop while GPAs rise, making it more difficult for colleges to decide which students to accept, as more and more students have 4.0s. Students are also less prepared for the increased workload and stricter standards they will face when they start college. Overall, there has been a decline in preparedness among students, which will inevitably cause issues later in life.

Failure is no longer an option (literally)

To mask just how ill-prepared students have become, some universities have decided to double down on their grading system. Some schools, like Oregon University, have decided that they will no longer give students failing grades. Instead, if a student fails a class, they will simply receive no grade, thus keeping their academic record blemish-freebecause heaven forbid a student should face the consequences of their own actions.

These universities are doing a real disservice to an entire generation of students. To cover up their failures, they are waving students through their programs, failing to prepare them for the world they will face.

Addiction to tech

Tech addiction has been a concern for parents since before the pandemic, but unsurprisingly, the lockdowns only made it worse. A 2023 study showed that internet addiction in adolescents nearly doubled during the lockdowns when compared to pre-pandemic numbers. This doesn't come as a surprise. Forcing kids to stay inside for months with the internet as their sole connection to the outside world is the perfect recipe for addiction to tech.

Mental illness

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The mental health crisis has been growing across the world for decades now, but it took a turn for the worse during the pandemic. Both a study from Iceland and Australia recorded a decline in the mental health of their youth during the pandemic, and a study out of San Francisco measured physical changes to the brains of children that resembled the brains of people who suffered childhood trauma.

5 SURPRISING ways space tech is used in your daily life

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Is your vacuum cleaner from SPACE?

This week, Glenn is discussing his recent purchase of a Sputnik satellite, which has got many of us thinking about space and space technology. More specifically, we've been wondering how technology initially designed for use outside Earth's atmosphere impacted our lives down here on terra firma. The U.S. spent approximately $30 billion ($110 billion in today's money) between the Soviet launch of Sputnik in 1957 and the Moon Landing in 1969. What do we have to show for it besides some moon rocks?

As it turns out, a LOT of tech originally developed for space missions has made its way into products that most people use every day. From memory foam to cordless vacuums here are 5 pieces of space tech that you use every day:

Cellphone camera

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Have you ever seen a photograph of an early camera, the big ones with the tripod and curtain, and wondered how we went from that to the tiny little cameras that fit inside your cellphone? Thank NASA for that brilliant innovation. When you are launching a spaceship or satellite out of the atmosphere, the space onboard comes at a premium. In order to make more room for other equipment, NASA wanted smaller, lighter cameras without compromising image quality, and the innovations made to accomplish this goal paved the way for the cameras in your phone.

Cordless vacuums and power tools

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When exploring the moon, NASA wanted astronauts to use a drill to collect samples from the lunar surface. The problem: the moon has a severe lack of electrical outlets to power the drills. NASA tasked Black & Decker with developing a battery-powered motor powerful enough to take chunks out of the moon. The resulting motor was later adapted to power cordless power tools and vacuums in households across America.

Infrared ear thermometer

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What do distant stars and planets have in common with your eardrum? Both have their temperature read by the same infrared technology. The thermometers that can be found in medicine cabinets and doctors' offices across the world can trace their origins back to the astronomers at NASA who came up with the idea to measure the temperature of distant objects by the infrared light they emit.

Grooved pavement

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This one may seem obvious, but sometimes you need a massively complicated problem to come up with simple solutions. During the Space Shuttle program, NASA had a big problem: hydroplaning. Hydroplaning is dangerous enough when you are going 70 miles an hour in your car, but when you're talking about a Space Shuttle landing at about 215 miles per hour, it's an entirely different animal. So what was NASA's space-age solution? Cutting grooves in the pavement to quickly divert water off the runway, a practice now common on many highways across the world.

Memory foam

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If you've ever slept on a memory foam mattress, it probably won't come as a shock to find out that the foam was created to cushion falls from orbit. Charles Yotes was an astronautical engineer who is credited with the invention of memory foam. Yotes developed the technology for the foam while working on the recovery system for the Apollo command module. The foam was originally designed to help cushion the astronauts and their equipment during their descent from space. Now, the space foam is used to create some of the most comfortable mattresses on Earth. Far out.

5 most HORRIFIC practices condoned by WPATH

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Whatever you know about the "trans movement" is only the tip of the iceberg.

In a recent Glenn TV special, Glenn delved into Michael Schellenberger's "WPATH files," a collection of leaked internal communications from within the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH). Glenn's research team got their hands on the WPATH files and compiled the highlights in Glenn's exclusive PDF guide which can be downloaded here. These documents reveal the appalling "standards" created and upheld by WPATH, which appear to be designed to allow radical progressive surgeons to perform bizarre, experimental, and mutilating surgeries on the dime of insurance companies rather than to protect the health and well-being of their patients. These disturbing procedures are justified in the name of "gender-affirming care" and are defended zealously as "life-saving" by the dogmatic surgeons who perform them.

The communications leaked by Schellenberger reveal one horrific procedure after another committed in the name of and defended by radical gender ideology and WPATH fanatics. Here are five of the most horrifying practices condoned by WPATH members:

1.Trans surgeries on minors as young as 14

One particular conversation was initiated by a doctor asking for advice on performing irreversible male-to-female surgery on a 14-year-old boy's genitals. WPATH doctors chimed in encouraging the surgery. One doctor, Dr. McGinn, confessed that he had performed 20 such surgeries on minors over the last 17 years!

2.Amputation of healthy, normal limbs

BIID, or Body Integrity Identity Disorder, is an “extremely rare phenomenon of persons who desire the amputation of one or more healthy limbs or who desire a paralysis.” As you might suspect, some WPATH members are in favor of enabling this destructive behavior. One WPATH commenter suggested that people suffering from BIID received "hostile" treatment from the medical community, many of whom would recommend psychiatric care over amputation. Apparently, telling people not to chop off perfectly healthy limbs is now considered "violence."

3.Trans surgeries on patients with severe mental illnesses

WPATH claims to operate off of a principle known as "informed consent," which requires doctors to inform patients of the risks associated with a procedure. It also requires patients be in a clear state of mind to comprehend those risks. However, this rule is taken very lightly among many WPATH members. When one of the so-called "gender experts" asked about the ethicality of giving hormones to a patient already diagnosed with several major mental illnesses, they were met with a tidal wave of backlash from their "enlightened" colleges.

4.Non-standard procedures, such as “nullification” and other experimental, abominable surgeries

If you have never heard of "nullification" until now, consider yourself lucky. Nullification is the removal of all genitals, intending to create a sort of genderless person, or a eunuch. But that's just the beginning. Some WPATH doctors admitted in these chatlogs that they weren't afraid to get... creative. They seemed willing to create "custom" genitals for these people that combine elements of the two natural options.

5.Experimental, untested, un-researched, use of carcinogenic drugs 

Finasteride is a drug used to treat BPH, a prostate condition, and is known to increase the risk of high-grade prostate cancer as well as breast cancer. Why is this relevant? When a WPATH doctor asked if anyone had used Finasteride "to prevent bottom growth," which refers to the healthy development of genitals during puberty. The answer from the community was, "That's a neat idea, someone should give it a go."

If your state isn’t on this list, it begs the question... why?

The 2020 election exposed a wide range of questionable practices, much of which Glenn covered in a recent TV special. A particularly sinister practice is the use of private money to fund the election. This money came from a slew of partisan private sources, including Mark Zuckerberg, entailed a host of caveats and conditions and were targeted at big city election offices— predominantly democratic areas. The intention is clear: this private money was being used to target Democrat voters and to facilitate their election process over their Republican counterparts.

The use of private funds poses a major flaw in the integrity of our election, one which many states recognized and corrected after the 2020 election. This begs the question: why haven't all states banned private funding in elections? Why do they need private funding? Why don't they care about the strings attached?

Below is the list of all 28 states that have banned private funding in elections. If you don't see your state on this list, it's time to call your state's election board and demand reform.

Alabama

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Arizona

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Arkansas

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Florida

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Georgia

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Idaho

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Indiana

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Iowa

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Kansas

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Kentucky

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Louisiana

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Mississippi

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Missouri

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Montana

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Nebraska

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North Carolina

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North Dakota

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Ohio

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Oklahoma

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Pennsylvania

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South Carolina

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South Dakota

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Tennessee

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Texas

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Utah

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Virginia

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West Virginia

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Wisconsin

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