Md. ‘Free Range’ Parents Fighting Child Neglect Charges

SILVER SPRING, Md. (WJZ) — Free range parenting. A Maryland couple is facing child neglect charges after letting their children walk home alone. The parents say it’s not neglect, it’s just the way they parent.

Tracey Leong explains why the parents are fighting the charges.

For the past several months, Child Protective Services has been investigating what the family is calling “free range parenting.” They tell WJZ this never should have been questioned in the first place.

A simple walk to the park for a ten and six year old sparks an international debate on parenting.

“I don’t mind discussing parenting or debating parenting with other parents, but to have the government actually step in and tell you how you’re supposed to parent is an outrage,” said Danielle Meitiv, mother.

Child Protective Services launched an investigation after the Meitiv’s two kids were picked up a mile from their Silver Spring home after playing at the park. CPS finds the parents guilty of unsubstantiated child neglect.

“My lawyer calls it ‘legal purgatory’ because it’s really not clear what exactly that finding is. But what it means is that there’s now a file at CPS that they will have on us for the next five years saying that we are in some way negligent parents,” said Meitiv.

According to Maryland law, a child under eight years old needs to be supervised by someone 13 or older.

While this has gained international attention, the family says they’re pleased it’s actually started a dialogue about the different styles of parenting.

“We think it’s the best thing for our children is to let them play outside instead of cooped up or constantly hovered over,” said Meitiv.

“The ultimate issue is how safe is your kid and how safe can you make them whether you’re with them or not,” said Carolyn Finney, Family Tree director.

Meitiv says the main focus should be kids’ health and well being.

“I would hope that in the future people ask where are all the other children? What’s happened from one generation to the next? The streets are really empty of children,” she said.

The family plans to appeal the decision and say they will continue parenting are free range parents.

While the case is closed, the file will be kept open for five years.

More from Tracey Leong
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