'Free Range Kids' picked up by police and sent to Child Protective Services for ... walking alone 0.3-mile from home
The parents were only notified many hours laterIn January, Katherine wrote a piece about "free-range" parents being investigated after letting kids walk home alone from the park. Police picked up the two kids, a 10-year-old boy and his 6-year-old sister, in front of the Discovery building (pictured below) in Silver Springs, Maryland, halfway into their 1-mile walk back home.
© Michael Graham Richard -- The Discovery building in Silver Spring, MD, where the Meitiv children were stopped and picked up by police
At the time, Katherine wrote:
The kids were not lost; they had their parents’ permission to walk home alone, and had done similar unsupervised walks in the past. The police, however, escorted the kids home, gave the waiting father a lecture on the dangers of the world, and pressured him into signing a safety plan pledging he wouldn’t leave his kids unattended until Montgomery County Child Protective Services followed up. Refusal to comply, he was told, would result in the removal of his children.
Danielle and Alexander Meitiv are not irresponsible parents; rather, they support a model called “free range” parenting, which allows children to explore the world with freedom and without fear. It’s a parenting style that could also be called old fashioned, as it’s the way countless children have been raised for thousands of years, up until the last half-decade.
Of course, this story caused quite a media and online ruckus, with people falling everywhere on the spectrum between "there's a murderer hiding behind every bush and kids should be kept in plastic bubbles" and "the world is safer now than it has ever been and kids used to be a lot freer in the past," arguing whether the kids' parents are doing the right thing or not.
Well, this story is not over. A neighbor of the "free range" family called 911 when they saw the kids walking in the neighborhood without adults on Sunday. They were 0.3-mile from home. The kids were picked up by police – again – and this time brought to Child Protective Services (CPS).
But that's not all. The kids were picked up around 5 p.m., but CPS and the police didn't call the parents to let them know what had happened. The children's mother, Danielle Meitiv, had told her kids to be home by 6:30 p.m., so when they didn't show up, they "became frantic and started driving around looking for them."
The Meitivs say CPS didn't call them to let them know they had the kids until about 8 p.m. The Meitivs drove to CPS to pick up their kids, but say they were told to "take a seat" and initially weren't given any information about their children, except that they were there. [...] The Meitivs' 10-year-old son told reporters they sat in the police car for about two hours before they were told they would be dropped off at home, but instead, they went to CPS in Rockville.
Just after 10:30 p.m., the Meitivs were reunited with their kids. They had to sign a temporary safety plan to take them home, which means they are not allowed to leave the children unattended at all. (source)
Police has said that after a "thorough" investigation, a decision will be made on whether to prosecute the parents or not.
You can see an interview with the parents after the family was reunited:
I know it's a complex issue and there are a lot of variables, and a lot of unknowns about the Meitivs and the particular area where this took place, so I know this isn't entirely representative. But I'm curious to know where most people fall on the issue. Please vote: