Decatur Police respond to call about ‘free range kid’Decatur Police Officers compare notes in the parking lot of Decatur High School. File photo
Decatur Police were recently called to a Winnona Park residence after a neighbor was concerned that a mom was letting her child play in the park unsupervised.
The story first appeared on Freerangekids.com, a website that promotes “Free Range” parenting, a hands-off approach that encourages children to be independent. The details were confirmed by Decatur Police, but because there was no arrest, there’s no official report, Lt. Jennifer Ross said. She said police responded to the call on Oct. 5 at 4:45 p.m. The park in question was the playground behind Winnona Park Elementary School, Ross said.
The mom, identified only as Free Range Kim on the website, wrote, “This week I had three police officers knock on my door. A neighbor saw my 4 1/2 year old playing in the park behind our house that’s an extension of our yard, and reported us to DFCS for neglect, then called the police.”
She said her child plays in the park daily.
“We bought our home for the backyard and access to the park. Our property line extends across a creek and into the school playground that is also the community park,” the letter says. “From my kitchen I can see the children playing on the playground at recess, and can call my children’s names and they come running home.”
The concerned neighbor asked the child where she lived and she gave the address while pointing at her house, the letter says. Free Range Kim said she was in her yard dealing with some “tree workers” at the time of the incident.
“She easily could have come over and talked with me,” she wrote. “The cops thought it was a ridiculous waste of their time, and ensured us there were no laws in our state that were being broken.”
Free Range Kim emailed the neighbor and received a response – from the neighbor’s attorney. The attorney asked Free Range Kim to stop contacting her neighbor and said that the neighbor was a “mandated reporter” because she is a teacher. Free Range Kim said under state law, her neighbor is only required to report issues in her school.
The letter concludes with Free Range Kim saying she is considering taking her neighbor to court.
“We’re willing to spend some money to make a point, even if we have little chance of winning because of the immunity provision,” the letter says. “We feel her only reason for calling DFCS was that she doesn’t agree with our parenting style.”
Decaturish reached out to the website’s owner to get in touch with the author of the letter, and the website owner said our inquiry had been forwarded to her, but Free Range Kim hasn’t responded to our inquiry.