The Short of It
Child Protective Services is investigating Danielle and Alexander Meitiv for neglect because the parents allowed their 10-year-old son, Rafi, and 6-year-old daughter, Dvora, to walk home alone from a park 1 mile away from their house in December. CPS required Alexander to sign a safety plan, pledging he wouldn't leave his children unsupervised until the following Monday, or they would remove the children.
Police picked up the children after someone reported seeing them walking alone. When the police returned the children, they asked Alexander for his identification and told him how dangerous it was to let the kids walk alone. Montgomery County Child Protective Services showed up a couple hours after the police left.
The Meitivs say that normally the kids carry a laminated card with parent contact information that says: "I am not lost. I am a free-range kid." But the kids didn't have the card that day.
"We wouldn't have let them do it if we didn't think they were ready for it," Danielle said.
The children previously walked alone on several occasions. The parents believed their kids were responsible enough to do the mile walk home.
The Meitivs say they believe in "free-range parenting," which is the exact opposite of the "helicopter" parenting style that many parents adhere to these days. Free-range parenting is the idea that children learn self-reliance by being allowed to progressively test limits, make choices and venture out into the world, like when we were children.
The Meitivs believe that parenthood is an exercise in risk management, and they're right. Every choice we make in parenthood has risks and consequences.
However, CPS is following a state law that addresses leaving children unattended, which says children younger than 8 must be left with a reliable person who is at least 13 years old. That makes sense, but shouldn't parents have a say in the rearing of their own children?
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