Danielle and Alexander Meitiv have been cleared of any wrongdoing in the Dec. 20 incident when they let their kids walk home from the park in Silver Spring, MD. Â As Donna St. George in the Washington Post reports:
A Maryland couple investigated for neglect after they let their two young children walk home alone from local parks have been cleared in one of two such cases, according to the familyâ€™s attorneys and documents.
The new Child Protective Services finding, which follows an appeal, comes as the experiences of â€œfree rangeâ€ parents Danielle and Alexander Meitiv have drawn national attention, sparking debate about parenting choices and how far local officials should go to enforce laws designed to protect children.
It overturns a previous CPS decision that held the Meitivs responsible for â€œunsubstantiatedâ€ child neglect, a finding typically made when there is conflicting or insufficient information for a more definitive conclusion.
The change came as a welcome surprise to the Meitivs, who were informed in letters they received May 18 that neglect was â€œruled outâ€ in the case, which dates to their childrenâ€™s December walk from Woodside Park.
â€œIt was an enormous relief and vindication,â€ Danielle Meitiv said in a Washington Post interview, the familyâ€™s first in six weeks. â€œOf course thereâ€™s no neglect here. There never was. There was never even a hint of it.â€
While strike one against them is now gone, strike two remains to be dealt with: That’s the time they allowed their kids to walk home from a local park yet again — the little recidivists. Â The kids were held for five hours, and the authorities didn’t even notify the parents until about three hours in.
â€œWeâ€™re hopeful it will be resolved in the same way,â€ Danielle Meitiv said. â€œThe facts of the two are the same. Theyâ€™re the same kids, weâ€™re the same parents. They were walking in the same neighborhood. .â€‰.â€‰. Neither case is neglect so weâ€™re hopeful that CPS will just see that and move on.â€
Danielle Meitiv said she stopped giving interviews April 13, both at the advice of lawyers and because the most recent experience became upsetting to talk about.
She said sheâ€™s speaking out now in hopes the new ruling may assuage the fears of other parents who want to let their children venture outdoors to walk or play, but are worried about CPS involvement. â€œItâ€™s also really good news,â€ she said.
The Meitivs advocate free-range parenting, which encourages independence and exploration. The term was first coined in 2008 by New York journalist Lenore Skenazy, who developed a following for pushing back against what many saw as a hypervigilant â€œhelicopter parentâ€ culture.
Actually, at this point that New York journalist would like to clarify that she is not pushing back against helicopter parents — she feels parents can raise their kids however they see fit. She is (I hear) pushing back against an entire culture that sees children only through the lens of danger, trauma and fragility, which then tends to overreact to any threat, no matter how remote.
But first, a woot of joy for justice, and for kids everywhere. Why not celebrate by having them walk to school today? – L
I like your last graf, by the way.
I was speaking recently about FRK stuff with a very close friend who’s also an *excellent* helicopter mom. She *really* hovers over her kid, so I expected her to be not very receptive, but as we talked I realized we had more common ground than we’d realized. She knew how she felt comfortable raising her kid, she knew some difficult things in her own childhood had pushed her in that direction, but she would never dream of imposing her parenting style on anyone else.
This is a theme maybe FRK could hit more strongly: Parenting Pluralism.
Cuz most kids turn out ok. Kids are resilient! If they have parents who are broadly concerned for them, who feed and clothe them and fight their corner, the specifics of the parenting style are pretty much secondary. Just as kids are resilient enough to survive a scraped knee and a walk to the park and turn out just fine, they’re resilient enough to withstand a mom who’s really risk averse.
FRK Parents and Helicopter Parents can be friends. Hell, some of my best friends are Helicopter Parents.
Excellent news. Now for the second lot of rubbish to be dealt with.
Walk to school? Why not homeschool them, realizing that you and they can probably do a better together of educating them than the the state’s kinderfactory? Just sayin’ 🙂
I wonder how much the PR shitstorm the authorities had to weather after their ridiculous actions contributed to this sudden outbreak of common sense.
Yay for a small slice of good news!
Many thumbs up.
They’re not quite out of the woods yet. If cleared of the last charge, great! Nevertheless, free range parents in Maryland would be well advised to keep an eye on their legislature. I can just see a future attempt to add language about the outdoors to the relevant section in order to close that loophole.
>>Walk to school? Why not homeschool them, realizing that you and they can probably do a better together of educating them than the the stateâ€™s kinderfactory? Just sayinâ€™ :)<<
@Frank Burns–You're probably right, but a lot of parents have to work while their kids are in school, six and ten is still a bit young to be left alone all day to do online school (assuming they'd be mature enough to stay on task throughout the day), and at school, Rafi and Dvora would at least get to interact with other kids, whereas outside of school, they'd have to specifically enroll in organized activities, which are usually segregated by age, and sometimes by gender as well, whether that's by design, such s Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts/Girl Guides, and separate-gendered sports teams, both of which have age divisions, or by accident–for example, even if you go to an awesome, progressive dance studio that advertises their children's ballet class as co-ed, you know it's going to be overwhelmingly female. Insidious as it may be sometimes, public school can be a bit of a "melting pot," where kids can socialize in mixed-gender groups pretty much anytime, and mixed-age groups at recess, and walking to and from school. Also, public school is a place where kids from different income brackets get to mix as well. Sometimes, this isn't pretty–I had my belongings stolen a LOT when I was in grade six, but I also learned, from watching my classmates come to school without lunch, or proper school supplies, or appropriate clothing, to be grateful that I had these things.
But, on the flip side of that, none of these articles give any indication that Rafi and Dvora are being bullied or having any problems in school, so if they're happy there, I'd leave well enough alone, at least for now. I mean, they're already dealing with the police, CPS, and the media scrutinizing their lives, they're probably still somewhat affected by the aftermath of being essentially picked up and detained by the police just for walking home from the park, they've probably been afraid that their parents are going to jail, and even if they've been cleared of one charge of neglect, there's still the second hanging over their heads, and even if they get cleared of THAT charge, who knows what "safety plan" their parents would have to sign, and how much they'd have to curtail their kids' freedom? Who knows how guilty those kids are probably feeling for still WANTING to go places without an adult, even if it might get their parents in trouble? So, if anything, I'd imagine that school is probably an island of stability for Rafi and Dvora, because it's the same rough schedule every day (or every week), and because generally speaking, elementary-school-aged kids don't follow the news, so their friends likely wouldn't know what was happening. So, for five days a week, six hours a day, they get to learn about fractions, and play four-square, and make volcanoes with baking soda and vinegar, and just do "normal kid" things. If their parents decided to homeschool now, it'd probably get the authorities and the media on their back even more, and poor Rafi and Dvora would have literally no escape or respite from all the drama.
Great News! Thank you.
Despite the case, and no matter what the second outcome, I still let my kids walk to the park. If we take these basic freedoms from our children, then the terrorists have won.
Hallelujah is right. So glad to see this outcome
Are the CPS even constitutional in the US? They punish citizens (i.e. remove kids from their parents’ home) without need of due process, filing charges or proving guilt in a court of law. They simply do whatever they want. They should be abolished. And the police’s powers should be radically curtailed.
It would be lovely to see such a high profile case result in some common sense findings and outcomes!
This is as important (probably more) as having the general public realize they don’t have to call 911 if they see unescorted kids.
That’s what I am kind of getting at in the toddler-in-the-road article. You’ll never be able to control who dials 911 (they might not have kids, they might have some background that makes them fearful, they might incorrectly assess danger, etc. etc) but you can create a system that doesn’t over-react and over-charge.
A glimmer of hope. Maybe good sense still lives out there somewhere.
Such good news!
That poor New York reporter gets a lot of misinformation reported about her, huh?
I find myself volleying between free-range and helicopter sometimes. I have to lecture myself occasionally.
As an adoptive parent, I was put through hell to “prove” that I was fit to raise a child. A (pregnant!!) social worker came to our home and inspected it, asked us about our finances, parenting philosophies, and drinking habits.
At that time, in our state, there was a huge imperative on CPS to keep children who had been abused, multiple times, in life-threatening ways, with their “blood relations.” Genetic ties to caregivers was given so much weight, so much importance, that children were dying at the hands of their parents, who were known to authorities as violent abusers, but the kids kept getting sent back “home.”
It puzzled me, why there was so much doubt of the fitness of non-genetically-related caregivers, and so much faith placed in “blood ties.” It seems there has been a 180Âº turn in terms of child “protection,” and this puzzles me as well. Now it seems that the most ridiculously innocuous pretext is enough for authorities to claim “abuse” and REMOVE children from a loving home and their (most likely) biological parents.
A child who has been hospitalized multiple times and there is no question of who is hurting them used to be returned home, over and over again. Now we have kids walking around suburban neighbourhoods and hand-wringing authorities, plagued by “what-if”-itis, throw the book at the parents for taking their eyes off the tots.
Taking our eyes off of our children, when they are on dry land, does not warrant state intervention. Allowing elementary-school-age children to walk places on their own is not neglect.
I cannot celebrate the Meitivs’ neglect charge being dropped, because I’m still so pissed off that they were ever investigated in the first place.
Congratulations, Meitiv family, both on the legal decision, and on raising your children to become self-sufficient, independent, and resourceful adults.
Happy at this outcome, but I hope it is a launching pad to redefine proper protocol for both CPS and the Police.
* Do not detain children without adequate cause. The standard should be “observe and move on” or “check and release”. If they are school aged and OK, leave them alone or start with a phone call to parents if there is real concern (for instance they were found climbing something dangerous or trespassing a construction zone). Try not to remove them from the location where they are found, and where the parents probably expect them to be.
* When detaining children, notify parents immediately
* When confronting parents, assume all parties are well-meaning and seek to clarify not to criminalize. Be sure parents are not unduly threatened, arrested, berated, or made to sign anything without legal representation.
* Recognize the power of parental rights and honor the concept of “reasonable risk parenting” as something that is careful and quite different from neglectful or abusive parenting.
Nice to see the CPS beast get a kick in the snout once in awhile. And the Bullystate being told to stand down and leave a nice family alone. All to the good.
As to homeschooling…………….a tough nut for the working class families holding down 5 jobs just to make ends meet –
But what concerns me more, and always has, is just this:
What happens to the concept of education as a public affair? A public trust, and a public responsibility?
In other words, a fair and just society committed to the welfare (educationally) of all children?
Schools are institutions. Just as are churches, temples, mosques and synagogues. As are courts of law, hospitals and all sorts of facilities deemed essential to the public trust.
Why is there no clamor then – for home-court? Home-hospital? etc. ad nauseum…….
There are reasons why public education gets broke. And a lack of political will to fix it shames a nation.
Which used to stand proud when I was a kid……..by and for its kids.
Over the years (and especially more recently) I’ve heard visitors from foreign lands who hear of all this stuff ask a rather embarrassing question: why do we hate our kids so much? Why are we not (in general, and as a society) more respectful? For of course – they are our future.
These questions are not asked with a tone of haughty superiority. They are asked with deep concern and a tone of sorrow. Asked by those who know different….and probably better. As a matter of course.
And those are questions not easy to answer. What gets lost in the long evolution of a corporatizing, commodifying and financializing society? Chris Hedges has some interesting answers……but that gets into some rather scary territory. Talk about bogeymen behind the bush, under the bed and inside the closet.
And in the meantime (and for some time now) good parents get hammered from all sides. Elizabeth Warren cottoned onto this back in 2005 when she published a good book co-written with her daughter.
And the beat goes on.
But my short answer: We’ve paid a helluva public price tag for our private wealth.
“At that time, in our state, there was a huge imperative on CPS to keep children who had been abused, multiple times, in life-threatening ways, with their â€œblood relations.â€ Genetic ties to caregivers was given so much weight, so much importance, that children were dying at the hands of their parents, who were known to authorities as violent abusers, but the kids kept getting sent back â€œhome.”
CPS needs to focus on children who are abused, not children who walk to parks and schools.
Sigh, I feel your pain. I recently lost a friend to domestic violence and am so completely disgusted with the lack of protection we provide abuse victims. Bald eagles have better protection in this country.
My friend was recently divorced from an abusive husband and father and had gone to the police multiple times, took out restraining orders and done all of the “right” things, yet was brutally massacred when picking her son up at the home of her ex. While the son was in the house, he killed my friend with a chainsaw and then killed himself. The boy had to break down the door with an ax and find his dead parents. No child should ever have to go through that.
Yet none of his previous arrests or health records of the breaks, falls, and *accidents* these kids had being beaten by their father meant anything at the custody hearing. Testimony of his violent behavior meant nothing and he got shared custody. His lawyer was a *shark* and refuted every claim and bashing the mother for trying to take the father figure out of these boys lives. Now 3 boys are orphaned.
At least they won’t be abused anymore.
The statistics on domestic violence victims is heartbreaking.
70% of abuse victims who try to leave their abuser will be killed trying.
We criminalize GOOD parents who allow kids to walk to school yet abused children are placed back with their abusers and this is all OK. It’s not OK. Help these kids and parents who truly need it. Please.
Check out our nationally syndicated comic strip, “Edge City” which begins a two week story arc related to free range kids this week.
I’m still laughing at the shit storm Montgomery County brought onto themselves. When they withheld the kids for 5 hours without even notifying the parents for 3 hours, they bit off more than they can chew. It’s a joy to watch them choke on it. It also sends a message to all police and CPS to watch their step.
In my fantasy world, this is followed immediately by 1) the Maryland DA office announcing the indictment of Maryland CPS officials for terrorism and kidnapping, and 2) the public tarring and feathering of one or more (formerly anonymous) neighborhood “good Samaritans” for meddling and cowardice.
WOO HOO!!! I will keep that on record – may have to refer to that particular court case in the future! (For raising my own kid as I see fit!)
Amen to this, and to the comments from “Montreal Dad”, “sigh”, and “JP Merzetti” (probably others, too, but I had to skim so I could get back to the rest of life!).
When are people going to stop thinking that if government employees approve of something, then it must be Ok? Conversely, whatever government employees disapprove of must be unacceptable?
I’m so glad to hear this, maybe there is hope for the family and society yet. I get a kick out of “FRK” when I was young we were just “the neighborhood kids” and we walked or rode our bikes everywhere otherwise we wouldn’t have gone anyplace. Driven to elementary school 3/4 of a mile away? Yeah like that was going to happen.
So no neglect which means the CPS actually kidnapped the children.
Brave ruling by CPS which shows they where wrong and abusive to the rights of the children and the parents.
I understand that the Meitiv family probably wants to celebrate not poke the mad dog of CPS in the eye as they have been trough enough unnecessary trauma.
Plus they do not want to give CPS to further incentive to spy on their family. They also have other case(s) still stemming out of the witch hunt that followed the original overstepping by CPS.
So the legal action and punitive damages that they are entitled to may not a good idea. Maybe it is better for them to have their lawyer use this to expedite the dropping of all other cases and future surveillances.
Thank you Meitiv family for advancing freedom for children and parents across America and the world.
God bless them for what they have done to protect and grow their children and by incidental extension the rest of us.
God Bless the CPS for reversing the ruling.
Whoa unto the CPS for any further unnecessary harassments.
Thank goodness. Progress no matter how small the steps! Now lets see about the second round of charges. I hope the judge recites a long list of how both the police and CPS became the boogeyman to these children and this family. I love our police, in our community and in our neighborhoods. I love CPS taking care of abused children and giving them hope and new chances.
But that is not what happened here. In this instance, children were manipulated into getting into this car and detained long enough for the parents to fear the worst. Which seems to me exactly what was intended here. Children who were not lost, knew their address and phone number and were heading home peacefully.
Did we really just evolve to “You wont’ listen when I tell you this isn’t safe, so I am going to show you!”?
The boogeyman wasn’t out that day so they had to play the part…
“Did we really just evolve to â€œYou wontâ€™ listen when I tell you this isnâ€™t safe, so I am going to show you!â€?
The boogeyman wasnâ€™t out that day so they had to play the partâ€¦”
I see this too. It’s what I’d call a very tragic strategy to bring about what we all agree we want: safety. Why so tragic? Because in taking the action the police and CPS took, they made the world LESS safe for these children. They caused them HARM.
Oh, silly humans.
The article was placed on my local news website, and had a whole heap of comments: Every. Single. Comment. was a freerange-ish comment in support of the family. Awesome, awesome!
Congratulations to the Meitiv family. They have been very brave taking a stand, holding their ground, and allowing their lives to be held up to public scrutiny.
I hope the next instance gets a prompt “ruled out” assessment. And I hope their lawyer gets a judgment that will put all the CPS agencies in this country on notice that all families have a right to grant freedom to their capable children. I hope the lawyer further gets a harsh ruling against the practice of forcing “voluntary agreements” by the kidnapping of, or threat to kidnap, children who are in no imminent danger.
Praise report! My heart aches for this family, victims of America’s version of Hitler’s SS Troops.
I have a (true) story of stupid cops and concerned lady’s
This happened 2 years ago when I was 12. I wanted to go for a walk around the block, but my shoes were bothering me so I went barefoot. Was it a good idea? Probably not. Did I step on glass/sharp objects? No. Anyway back to the story, while I was walking a lady came up to me and asked me if I was okay, where my parents were, if I wanted her to help me find my home, all sorts of stuff like that. Being completely dumbfounded, I answered all her questions, I told her I knew where I was, were I lived (right down the road) I wasn’t lost, and that I was 12, in case she had mistaken me for a younger child, and was concerned (I was small for my age). She seemed pretty doubtful and as I started to walk away, and she told me, “wait come back!” And it sounded like she really wanted me to stay for some reason, so I did, and we made conversation, little did I know it was a distraction so that I would stay till the cops she made her husband call arrived (grrrrrfxhfuyjyfuyht(;$;($);45(5:)4((($;?$);<â‚¬~%^â‚¬#^*+#^*Â£~%) sorry, I had to get that out. So the cops arrived and questioned me, and I was really scared because I thought I was in really big trouble. I told them I lived 5 houses down (which I did) and asked them if I could go home and they said no, it was too 'dangerous' so they held me there for hours until I saw my dads vehicle and he came and by then I was nearly crying, and my dad talked to the cops and I asked if dad could walk or drive me home but they said no because we could be murdered or something, so a cop had to take us. They then came into our house without permission. Well… I guess a cop don't need permission but COME ON they thought I was being abused because of no shoes (silly childish mistake, I even told them that) scratches on my arm (blackberry picking) bruises (ummm PLAYING!!!!) and I think they just wanted an excuse to search our house and basically traumatize me, I told them it was fine they could go but who listens to a kid *sigh* they then deemed the house unsuitable for living for who-knows-what reason and left and said they were going to take us to foster care which I had been to before with an abusive foster mother 🙁
After the cops left everyone blamed me and said it was all my fault and I spent the night shaking and crying. My dad did not want me and my siblings in foster care again so he drove us to our grandmas. After a while we figured she couldn't take care of us forever, and the only other family that has the time is my aunt and uncle who live 100s of miles away, so that's where I live, 100s of miles away from my family, and my dads forgiven me but mom still won't talk to me. I only see my dad once or twice a year. 🙁
You can put this story on your site if you want (well, technichally it IS on the site but in the comments)
This morning I caught a bit of the local sports radio show and they were discussing the Meitivs – in fact she appeared later on after I tuned out – and one of the hosts was blathering on about how he just felt that the world was a more dangerous place (stats be damned!), and as proof he cited ISIS, child porn, and the recent Anthrax scare. Which made me wonder: we shouldn’t let kids walk to the playgrounds by themselves because they might be kidnapped by jihadists, be forced to do kiddie porn, and then get killed by anthrax?
“It’s not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves, that will make them successful human beings.” ~Ann Landers
I had an interesting experience this weekend. My neighbor lady was watching her grandson- he often hangs out with my youngest daughter when he visits. They were really bored on Saturday so I told them to walk to the local elementary school to play. My daughter is 10 (Will be 11 in July) and the boy is 8, the elementary school is .5 miles (an 11 minute walk) from our residence. She flew off the handle! She saw them walking and immediately drove to the school- hovered over them while they played and then drove them home. She then called me and I got a “worst mom ever badge”. I couldn’t believe it! My daughter has lived in this neighborhood her entire life. Knows just about everybody on the block and I TRUST her. My neighbor lady was fearful or rape, murder or an abduction… I explained to her that most crimes against children are perpetrated by a relative or somebody they know and she wouldn’t hear it. IMO- this fear mongering- has led to many of the problems we are seeing with young people today. many kids are fat, lazy, fearful and addicted to technology. (I’ve actually heard parents say “they can play video games till their eyes fall out, because at least I know where they are”… seriously?!@#!) It blows my mind! I do believe that children need to be aware of their surroundings but to be completely stripped of their freedom simply because of unwarranted fear… I just don’t get it. 11 kids out of every 1,000 are abducted… somehow we focus on the 11 and forget that 989 are okay (and most of the numbers come from relatives/family friends and runaways!)… and we also forget that there are approx 74 million kids living the US!