Maryland authorities take ‘free-range’ kids into custody again after they play in a park unsupervised
Authorities in Maryland say two children taken into custody while walking home without an adult last year have been picked up by police again.
Maryland’s Child Protective Services took in the two children for the second time, after the kids were found in public unattended on Sunday.
Their parents – Danielle and Alexander Meitiv – subscribe to the “ free-range kids movement ”, which emphasizes children’s independence. Adherents say parents have been raising their children this way for decades.
But Maryland’s Montgomery County Child Protective Services opened an investigation in December 2014 after the children, age 10 and six, were found walking home by themselves in December 2014. The CPS found that the parents were responsible for “unsubstantiated” child neglect for letting their children walk home alone. That charge means that CPS will keep a file on the family for at least five years.
On Sunday, the kids were playing at a park near their family’s home in Silver Spring when someone reported they were not under adult supervision.
Danielle Meitiv told MyFoxDC that she and her husband were driving around looking for their kids when they did not return home at the agreed upon time of 6.30pm. She said CPS did not contact the parents until about 8pm and the family was reunited around 10.30pm.
Meitiv said the initial incident provoked nightmares in her kids, who were distressed by their experience with the police. “The only people who have threatened to abduct my kids are the child protective services,” she told the Guardian last month .
Meitiv said that she and her husband had to sign a “ safety plan ” to get their children out of Child Protective Services’s custody on Sunday. Under the plan, the parents were not permitted to leave their children unattended.
“They kept the kids trapped there for three hours, without notifying us, before dropping them at the Crisis Center, and holding them there without dinner for another two and a half hours.” Danielle Meitiv wrote in a Facebook post . “We finally got home at 11pm and the kids slept in our room because we were all exhausted and terrified.”
Police said no charges have been filed, though authorities are still investigating the case.
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