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Free Range Parents Cleared of Second Neglect Charge

Danielle Meitiv/Facebook

The Short of It

Danielle and Alexander Meitiv, the Maryland couple known for their "free-range" parenting style, had been charged by their local Child Protective Services for neglect after allowing their kids to play and walk home from a park by themselves. But now they've learned the CPS has dropped the charges. Still, the parents plan to sue.

The Lowdown

In April, the Meitivs' kids, 10-year-old Rafi and 6-year-old Dvora, were picked up by police while walking home from a park about a mile away from home. They were held for several hours by the police and then by CPS before their parents were notified. Danielle had called it "a terrifying detainment that no child should experience."

In May, the couple was cleared of charges of neglect from a separate incident in which the kids walked home from a different park in December.

Now that the second set of charges has been dropped, "of course, we felt vindicated again," Danielle said. "We knew we were right from the beginning. The truth is, I never doubted that we would ultimately prevail because we knew the facts and the law were on our side, but getting there was a struggle. So we're glad at least this chapter is over."

Still, she and her husband believe their battle for parenting freedom isn't completely over. They told Today Parents they will likely file a lawsuit against CPS and the Montgomery County police department.

"Damages were done, and our constitutional rights were violated, and that needs to be remedied," Danielle said.

The Upshot

It appears the Meitivs' outspokenness about their experiences are influencing local policy and inspiring others to rethink parenting styles.

The Maryland Department of Human Resources recently revised its policy to state that CPS shouldn't get involved if children are walking or playing outdoors without an adult unless they're hurt or at risk.

"We started a whole national conversation about helicopter parenting, about the dangers of overprotective parents, and also the danger of taking power from parents and giving it to child protective agencies," Danielle said. "It shouldn't be odd to see two children enjoying themselves in their own community."

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