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'Free-Range' Parents Fight Back—and Receive a Ton of Support

The Short of It

Danielle and Alexander Meitiv's children, Rafi, 10, and Dvora, 6, were sent to Child Protective Services after the parents allowed the kids to play in a park a mile from their Maryland home without supervision. This happened after a previous incident in which the couple was found guilty of "unsubstantiated child neglect" for doing the same thing back in December. Now, the parents, who believe in the "free-range" style of parenting, say they plan to sue the local police and CPS.

The Lowdown

After a man saw the kids playing in the park sans-adult, he called the Montgomery County Police. The children had already started walking home—they were just three blocks away—but the police didn't take them there.

According to a press release written by the Meitivs' lawyer and posted on Danielle's Facebook page, "The Meitiv children were confined to the back of a police car for almost three hours without any explanation of why they were being detained. The Meitiv children were then transported to the Montgomery County Crisis Center for further detention. During this entire time, the children had no access to food and only limited access to the restroom. After a series of delays and decisions by CPS and the police, CPS did not release the children to Danielle and Alexander until 10:30 P.M., and the children did not return home until about 11 P.M. on a school night."

The police, however, say they contacted CPS "per established protocol" and that the officer on the scene had "observed a homeless subject, who he was familiar with, eyeing the children." They'd waited for a directive from CPS before bringing them there. The officer also says he planned on sharing his lunch with them but changed his mind after Rafi told him they had food allergies.

Still, many are rallying around the Meitivs. A Facebook page called "I Stand With the Meitivs Against CPS" has been launched. There's also a petition to change Maryland state laws so government agencies focus on "real instances of child neglect" and parents can feel freer to give their kids some independence without CPS getting involved.

The Upshot

The Meitivs say they believe that they should have the right to allow their children some freedom and that their kids shouldn't have been subject to what Danielle called a "terrifying detainment."

And earlier this week, I found myself wondering when my kids would be considered old enough to walk themselves home from school. I guess not anytime soon!

What do you think—should the police and CPS be found at fault or were they right in detaining the Meitiv kids?

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