from the who-knows-the-kids-best? dept.
The WaPo reports that Danielle and Alexander Meitiv in Montgomery County Maryland say they are being investigated for neglect after letting their 10-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter make a one-mile walk home from a Silver Spring park on Georgia Avenue on a Saturday afternoon. “We wouldn’t have let them do it if we didn’t think they were ready for it,” says Danielle. The Meitivs say they believe in “free-range” parenting, a movement that has been a counterpoint to the hyper-vigilance of “helicopter” parenting, with the idea that children learn self-reliance by being allowed to progressively test limits, make choices and venture out in the world. “The world is actually even safer than when I was a child, and I just want to give them the same freedom and independence that I had — basically an old-fashioned childhood,” says Danielle. “I think it’s absolutely critical for their development — to learn responsibility, to experience the world, to gain confidence and competency.”
On December. 20, Alexander agreed to let the children walk from Woodside Park to their home, a mile south, in an area the family says the children know well. Police picked up the children near the Discovery building, the family said, after someone reported seeing them. Alexander said he had a tense time with police when officers returned his children, asked for his identification and told him about the dangers of the world. The more lasting issue has been with Montgomery County Child Protective Services which showed up a couple of hours later. Although Child Protective Services could not address this specific case they did point to Maryland law, which defines child neglect as failure to provide proper care and supervision of a child. “I think what CPS considered neglect, we felt was an essential part of growing up and maturing,” says Alexander. “We feel we’re being bullied into a point of view about child-rearing that we strongly disagree with.”
We previously reported on the parents in Maryland who were being investigated for neglect after letting their 10-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter make a one-mile walk home from a Silver Spring park on Georgia Avenue on a Saturday afternoon. Now the Washington Post that after a two-month investigation the Montgomery County Child Protective Services has found the parents responsible for “unsubstantiated” child neglect in a decision that has not fully resolved their clash with authorities over questions of parenting and children’s safety. "I think what CPS considered neglect, we felt was an essential part of growing up and maturing," said Alexander Meitiv. "We feel we're being bullied into a point of view about child-rearing that we strongly disagree with."
The finding of unsubstantiated child neglect means CPS will keep a file on the family for at least five years and leaves open the question of what would happen if the Meitiv children get reported again for walking without adult supervision. The parents say they will continue to allow their son, Rafi, 10, and daughter Dvora, 6, to play or walk together, and won’t be swayed by the CPS finding. “We don’t feel it was appropriate for an investigation to start, much less conclude that we are responsible for some form of child neglect,” says Danielle Meitiv, who said she and her husband plan to appeal and worry about being investigated again by CPS. “What will happen next time? We don’t know if we will get caught in this Kafkaesque loop again.” Asked how authorities would respond if the children were reported again for walking unsupervised, Paula Tolson, spokeswoman for the Maryland Department of Human Resources, said CPS would become involved if a complaint was made about the safety of the children. In such cases, “if we get a call from law enforcement or from a citizen, we are required to investigate. Our goal is the safety of children, always.”