Kids of “Free Range Parents” Taken into Custody–Again

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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?



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5 COMMENTS

  1. So freaking stupid of MoCo. All of us were “free-range kids” or kids as we were called back in the day. I worry about what’s going to happen to children when they go away to university, or have to live on their own. How will they cope? It’s shocking that the neighbors have nothing better to do than tattle to the police on these children, and shame on the police for acting like kidnappers.

    Children in “bad” neighborhoods are totally free-range. I would see them all the time, walking to school, taking a cross-town bus, playing on the playgrounds… There were rarely parents around to keep an eye on them, and the kids were self-sufficient.

  2. I wonder how the children are feeling about walking in the neighborhood by themselves. I don’t know that my 7 year old grandson would feel comfortable being that far from his parents.
    There doesn’t appear to be a law governing children outside the home and car; so, another article suggested that the police may have acted illegally. Curious to see where this goes.

    • This is crazy! We all ran around our towns and cities in the 60s and 70s. We just had to be home for dinner. I would ride my bike by myself to my grandparents house when I was 8.

      These children are 10 and 6. They are perfectly capable of walking a mile to their house. Leave this poor family alone!!

  3. I thought statistics said that you were more likely to be molested by a family member and most accidents happened within five miles of home so the further away these kids get the safer they are.

  4. I grew up in the 90s and walked the 1/3-1/2 mile home from school myself from age 8 on. My parents knew what time school let out and when I was supposed to be home and if I made a stop along the way called them (from a land line!) to let them know. It was a priviledge and a responsibility to walk home by myself and while neighbors watched out for me, no one ever thought I was being neglected or put in harm’s way.

    I wouldn’t call it free range, I’d call it normal, non-overbearing parenting.

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