Cops Called After Parents Let Kids Walk Home Alone

Maryland couple says they want kids 10, 6 to learn independence
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 15, 2015 12:27 PM CST
Parents in Neglect Inquiry After Kids Walk Home Alone
At what age should kids be allowed to walk home alone?   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – A climate-science expert and a physicist for the NIH say they're trying to teach their kids how to be independent and self-reliant. So they're baffled why they're being investigated for neglect by Maryland's Child Protective Services for allowing their 10-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter to play at a Silver Spring park, then walk a mile home—alone. Danielle and Alexander Meitiv tell the Washington Post that they follow a "free-range parenting" philosophy—letting their kids gradually make decisions and gain certain freedoms. "We wouldn't have let them do it if we didn't think they were ready for it," Danielle tells the Post. The trouble started when Danielle got a visit from CPS reps in the fall for letting Rafi and Dvora play in the park alone, she wrote to Reason.com. Danielle refuted the state statute that CPS cited (it appears to deal with leaving kids alone in a building or a car, not at a park) and the investigation ended.

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However, when Alexander dropped the kids off solo at the park in December, they only got halfway home before cops picked them up (a neighbor had called 911)—and CPS got involved again. Danielle tells Reason.com that things have gotten "outrageous," including a cop telling her husband in front of the kids that "shots would be fired" if he came downstairs carrying anything other than his ID, and a social worker visiting the kids' school and questioning the kids without the Meitivs' permission. Neither the police nor CPS would comment on the case, though a police spokeswoman tells the Post, "We have a responsibility ... to check on people's welfare." The Meitivs are set to meet with CPS again next week. "I think what CPS considered neglect, we felt was an essential part of growing up and maturing," Alexander says. "We're being bullied into a point of view about child-rearing that we strongly disagree with." (Read more child neglect stories.)

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