SILVER SPRING, Md. (WJZ) — What one Maryland family saw as a moment of independence for their ten and six-year-old, police saw as something different. Now Alexander and Danielle Meitiv are being investigated for child neglect.
Christie Ileto explains the growing controversy.
The Meitivs call it “free-range parenting”. They allowed their children to walk home alone from a park. Their decision has created a firestorm of controversy.
The walk home from a Silver Spring park was one mile, but when ten-year-old Rafi and six-year-old Dvora Meitiv were spotted unaccompanied, separate callers alerted police and child services.
“They understand that they need to hold hands when they cross the street, they need to look both ways,” said parent Danielle Meitiv.
But just knowing the basics wasn’t enough. Child Protective Services is investigating the Meitivs for neglect.
State law requires children under eight-years-old to be accompanied by someone at least 13.
“They came and they interviewed kids at school without our permission or knowledge,” said parent Alexander Meitiv.
The walk home from the park is one the parents say their kids knew well, but they only made it halfway back before they were stopped by police.
“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.
It’s one of many issues Family Tree in Baltimore works with parents on. Finney says a child’s age and maturity are critical.
“A major accident right in front of them could happen. An immature person might run towards the accident when that’s not really what you need to do,” she said.
The Meitivs say a social worker made them sign a safety plan, acknowledging the kids wouldn’t go unsupervised. But they stand by their decision, saying Child Protective Services is overstepping.
“We’re not the only people who think this is outrageous,” Danielle Meitiv said.
The family has a meeting with child services next week.
A similar controversy happened in New York City in 2008 when a mother let her then nine-year-old son ride the subway alone. She believed in “free range parenting.”
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