Parents Who Let Kids Walk Home Alone Found Responsible for Neglect

Parents Who Let Kids Walk Home Alone Found Responsible for NeglectBethesda-Chevy Chase – by Deb Belt

The Silver Spring parents at the center of a national debate on parenting styles — for letting their 10- and 6-year-old children walk home from a park without mom and dad – have been found responsible for child neglect by county investigators.

Montgomery County Child Protective Services sent a letter Feb. 20 to Danielle and Alexander Meitiv telling the parents they are responsible for child neglect, reports Montgomery Community Media. The couple has a right to appeal the finding.  

The county agency will keep a file on the family for at least five years, reports The Washington Post, which could leave the Meitivs vulnerable to prosecution if they let their children, Rafi, 10, and younger sister Dvora, 6, walk unattended.

Maryland law prohibits children under the age of eight from being unattended in a dwelling or car, but makes no reference to the outdoors, reports WUSA TV.

The couple says they will appeal the finding, and will continue to allow their children to play or walk together.

“We don’t feel it was appropriate for an investigation to start, much less conclude that we are responsible for some form of child neglect,” Danielle Meitiv told The Post.

“We are paying legal fees. We can’t afford this … It’s just a horrible inhuman process,” she told MYMCMedia.

How the Saga Began

The investigation began in December, The Washington Post reports, when a passerby spotted Rafi and younger sister Dvora walking along Georgia Avenue and called police. A police officer asked the children what they were doing, to which Rafi replied, walking home from the park.

The officer than went to the Meitivs’ house to talk with the parents, who are amazed that their efforts to give their children independence has landed them in legal trouble, and at the crossroads of a national debate over parenting styles.

The Meitivs advocate what has been dubbed free-range parenting. The website Free-Range Kids, started by Lenore Skenazy, says that in these overprotective times, kids don’t learn independence as parents are bombarded with media stories of child abductions.

Skenazy’s website says, “Free-Range Kids are sort of old-fashioned. They’re kids who are expected to want to grow up and do things on their own. And then, when they show us they’re ready, we allow ‘em to.”

Rafi Meitiv told the Post that he asked his parents if he and his sister could be dropped off at the park so they could play a bit longer and then come home.

While the Meitivs initially balked at signing a safety plan drafted by Child Protective Services, they agreed to the proposal after they were threatened with losing custody of their children.

“I think what CPS considered neglect, we felt was an essential part of growing up and maturing,” Alexander Meitiv told the Washington Post in January. “We feel we’re being bullied into a point of view about child-rearing that we strongly disagree with.”

“I grew up in New York City in the ‘70s and nobody hesitated to let their kids walk around. The only thing that’s changed between then and now is our fear,” Danielle Meitiv told WUSA TV last month.

The couple says county workers tried to frighten the children, who have been schooled in how to safely cross streets, and stay together when outside of their house.

Support for Parents

In response to the investigation into the Meitiv family, the Maryland Coalition to Empower Kids has organized to push for changes in the law. The group’s website says cases of child abduction, abuse and murder are far lower today than for the previous generation.

The group’s position is “We believe that in order to teach kids to assess risk, they must be given opportunities to do so. We trust our kids to make good decisions with the proper preparation and guidance, and we believe they are capable of developing sound judgement.”

On its Facebook page Monday the group posted: “The Meitivs shouldn’t have been investigated in the first place – but CPS has decided they are responsible for “unsubstantiated” child neglect. We’re drafting a petition and are working to get the law in Maryland changed so CPS can focus on REAL instances of child neglect, cases which would certainly not included a 6 and a 10 year old walking a mile home from the park.”

http://patch.com/maryland/bethesda-chevychase/parents-who-let-kids-walk-home-alone-found-responsible-neglect#.VPZcfcIEJlQ.email

6 thoughts on “Parents Who Let Kids Walk Home Alone Found Responsible for Neglect

  1. “We don’t feel it was appropriate for an investigation to start, much less conclude that we are responsible for some form of child neglect,” Danielle Meitiv told The Post.”

    In other words, you feel you have the right to raise YOUR children as you see fit, WITHOUT so-called ‘government’ intervention.

    Agreed.

    “I grew up in New York City in the ‘70s and nobody hesitated to let their kids walk around. The only thing that’s changed between then and now is our fear,” Danielle Meitiv told WUSA TV last month.”

    There weren’t as many so-called ‘government’ sponsored kidnappers running around back then.

    They did have the milk carton thing going, though.

      1. Just because I’m paranoid, it doesn’t mean they’re not after me.

        A little paranoia is a healthy thing these days… 😉

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