A free-range parent drops off her young son at the boardwalk to play alone -- that's tonight's scenario on "What Would You Do?"
Free-range parenting, the concept of raising children with limited parental supervision to encourage independence, is a hot-button issue.
Across the country, free-range parents have received backlash from critics who believe that this parenting style is nothing short of dangerous.
Many free-range parents believe this method of parenting will result in self-sufficient, independent, problem-solving children.
Lenore Skenazy, author and creator of the popular blog "Free-Range Kids," made headlines in 2008 when she let her then 9-year-old son ride the New York City subway alone.
Skenazy is not the only free-range parent who has been criticized. Back in 2015, a Maryland couple faced charges of neglect for letting their 10- and 6-year-old children walk home alone from the park.
All charges against those parents were dropped.
While most states do not have a law dictating the exact age a child can be left alone, Utah recently amended its child welfare laws to clarify that parents cannot be charged with neglect for letting their children, if they deem them mature enough, to play outside alone or walk home from school by themselves.
In tonight’s episode, we explore what beach-goers will do when a young boy asks for the time and tells them that he’s been playing alone on the boardwalk. Our actor, Cadden, playing the role of free-range parent, drops off her son, Finn, for a day of fun at the beach.
"Okay honey, we’re going to meet back here at 4:00. Do you have your sunscreen and your lunch?" Cadden says.
"Yep, I have it all," Finn replies. "Thanks, Mom! Love you!
"Love you, too, honey!" Cadden replies. "Have fun!"
Throughout the day, some people agree that Finn is perfectly able to play alone on the boardwalk, while others question this parenting technique.
One beachgoer confronts our mom, insisting, “I would take him with you because if not, I’m going to have to report that to the police.”
When Finn asks another boardwalk bystander what is the worst thing that can happen at the beach, he simply answers, “Sunburn.”
During an interview with our host, John Quiñones, a woman says she understands both sides of this matter.
“I think it’s good in a way," she says. "I think it gives the child more of a sense of responsibility, but too much responsibility is too much on a child.”
To see how other beachgoers react, make sure to tune in to "What Would You Do?" tonight at 9/8c on ABC.