Long time lurker, first time asker here :-)
My wife and I are set to become parents within the next few months. One thing that frightens me about the prospect of being a parent in today's world, and specifically, in Littleton, Colorado, USA, is the recent spate of reports of parents being arrested and having their children taken away because the children engage in activities on their own that would have been considered normal a few decades ago.
I was born in 1983. Much to the dismay of my parents, I preferred to constantly amuse myself with Nintendo games throughout my childhood. However, I was certainly allowed and encouraged to play outside any time I wanted to.
In today's United States, it appears that many people in law enforcement and the courts see it as a parent's duty to keep their children under close supervision at all times; they see anything else as criminal child endangerment. See this report by the Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-watch/wp/2014/07/14/and-now-the-criminalization-of-parenthood/.
TWP reports that a boy in Ohio left church one Sunday morning to go play with friends. Someone saw him at a "Family Dollar Store" and reported this to the police. The police arrived, took him home, and arrested his father for "child endangerment".
Google will find you many stories like this, so I'm not going to post them all here; I believe that the above story is a good example of what I'm concerned about.
I could go into details about how the violent crime rate in the USA is about half what it was when I was born in 1983; I could rant about how fear of crime is exploding as crime declines. I could go into all sorts of philosophical and ideological arguments about why I think what is happening is wrong.
My question to Parenting SE is this:
Are parents required by law in the United States in the year 2014 to closely supervise their children when they are out and about, or else keep them at home? It sounds like the answer is a resounding "Absolutely, yes, and you can go to jail and lose your family if you don't obey!" Are these reports typical of how the law is applied in the USA today, or are these reports outliers? Finally, if I don't want my children to be developmentally stunted by being placed under close adult supervision at all times and "house arrest" when supervision isn't available, what can I do about it?
I would be particularly interested in an answer that cites the law as applied here or how the courts have interpreted the law.