Clearly, the laws needed to be clarified. Giving our kids an old-fashioned childhood is not negligence. It should never be considered that. I asked Adrian Moore, a policy expert at the Reason Foundation, to help me draft a law that stated — in a lot more words — “Our kids have the right to some unsupervised time, and parents have the right to give it to them without getting arrested.” As Moore put it, “There are some bureaucrats who think that it’s not safe for kids to do anything other than play in their rooms. That’s crazy. But without a law sometimes the crazies get to decide.”

The Arkansas legislature was the first state to vote on this bill a year ago. It sailed through the Senate but hit a wall in the House, stymied by the all-too-familiar fear: What if a child gets kidnapped? The specter of this rarest of crimes (people are more likely to be hit by lightning than be kidnapped) was enough to trigger the backlash.

Ironically, crime-wise, kids today are safer than when their parents were growing up and zooming around (helmet-free) on bikes.