Back in January, a Montgomery County couple came under investigation by Child Protection Services for letting their kids make the one-mile walk home from school without adult supervision. Yesterday, the Meitiv family and CPS intensified, as the family’s two children were taken into custody (and then returned).
Apparently, the previous kerfluffle didn’t discourage the Meitiv’s from letting their 10- and 6-year-old walk hang out in their neighborhood unsupervised. (They were charged with neglect after the previous incident, and have said they plan to fight the charge.) After seeing the kids walking alone about a third of a mile from home on Sunday evening, a neighbor called the police, who took the kids into custody… without informing the Meitivs. When the kids didn’t come home by 6pm as planned, the parents began looking for them. They weren’t told where their kids were until 8pm, and didn’t get them back until 10:30pm — and then only after they signed papers promising to no longer leave the children unattended. The whole experience sounds mildly traumatic for everyone involved.
The Meitivs believe in “free range” parenting, basically the exact opposite of the much-bemoaned helicopter parenting. They point out that kids are far more at risk of being hurt in a car accident with their parents at the wheel than they do of being abducted by a stranger. But a New York Times blogger wonders whether the parents’ standing up for their principles is hurting their kids–not by exposing them to danger, but by putting them in the middle of confrontations with police, a scary place for little kids to find themselves. Or is it Montgomery County officials who are being unreasonable? Readers, your thoughts?