‘Free Range’ parents accused of child neglect after allowing kids to walk alone

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SILVER SPRING, Md. —  A couple accused of child neglect says the ruling infringes on their rights as parents.

Maryland Child Services started investigating Danielle and Sasha Meitiv in December.

That’s when their 10-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter were caught walking one mile, from a playground to their home.

Child services just found their parents responsible for unsubstantiated child neglect.

That means the agency will keep a file on them for at least five years.

“At first it was just shock, and kind of numb, then as it sunk it it was really upsetting,” said Danielle Meitiv. “I looked at my husband and I said, ‘I can’t believe they think we did something wrong.’ I just started to cry.”

The Meitivs say they believe in a “free-range” style of parenting.

They say unsupervised time helps raise independent children.

“They’re learning to take little risks, like the risk of walking around the block without an adult. You know, it’s just part of natural child development. I absolutely disagree that my kids are too young to do it,” said Meitiv.

Maryland law prohibits children younger than age 8 from being unattended in a dwelling or car.

The law makes no reference to outdoors.

“The law says children may not be locked or confined. CPS says that law also applies to outdoors, and that’s part of what we’re disputing. I don’t see how they can make that interpretation,” Meitiv said.

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5 comments

  • thatguywhodidthingsandstuff

    I don’t see the big deal. i walked home from kindergarten alone when i was little… yeah i wasn’t in maryland, but still the agency was obviously just looking to make trouble.

  • carol

    We Def need some new rules, new laws and Social Services who follows procedures. First I think it was ludicrous to charge them with neglect and put them through a system that is obviously over-crowded with worse case scenarios. Should they have locked the children out of the hiuse? No way! That was wrong. BUT MOST parents would only need a warning from local police that it can be a crime and endangering a child to do so. We over – whelming the system and then we wonder why we have CPS not attending to real threats to children.

  • anne

    I walked home alone many times in grammar and high school. I lived in a big city and never had a problem. People are no better or worse than they were then–it’s simply that now if something happens, it’s made to seem as if were a common occurrence and blown totally out of proportion.

  • silent_screamer

    I’m not sure if Maryland’s CPS is incompetent or out of control………or both. Sounds like too much power CPS nanny state . If I were sitting in the jury box on this case , the parents would be released from CPS’ supervision and CPS would owe them a public apology

  • Lisa

    Most of the people I know were raised like this (in the ’80’s). We didn’t call it “free-range parenting,” we just called it parenting.