Danielle and Alexander Meitiv, a climate-science expert and a physicist for the National Institutes of Health now best known as the "free-range" parents who let their two kids walk unsupervised from parks to their house, have been formally declared "responsible for unsubstantiated child neglect" by local child protective services. The ruling was one of three possible outcomes in neglect investigations, reports the Washington Post: ruled out, unsubstantiated, or indicated. Unsubstantiated is something of a middle ground, and will be thrown out in five years if no other reports are filed. But, as the Post notes, it leaves the case unresolved. Says Danielle Meitiv: "Parents try so hard. Even though I know they are wrong, it’s a painful judgment.... They really believe we did something wrong."
"All of us were hoping sanity would prevail and they would drop it," says the founder of Empower Kids Maryland, created in the wake of the Meitiv case. It all started last fall, when Dvora, 6 and Rafi, 10, were seen walking home alone from a playground in Silver Spring, Md., and authorities were called to investigate. The Meitivs say that letting their kids gradually venture out on their own nurtures independence, and that the ruling will not change their parenting approach, reports Today. In fact, just yesterday, a snow day in Maryland, Danielle Meitiv says she sent her kids outside. "It’s a gorgeous day and I kicked my kids out, because that’s what you do on a beautiful day," she says. The Meitivs add that they plan to appeal the ruling. "What will happen next time?" says Danielle Meitiv. "We don’t know if we will get caught in this Kafkaesque loop again." (Unsupervised dogs taking the bus, meanwhile, attract much less controversy.)