SILVER SPRING, Md. (WJZ) — A short walk to the park became the talk of the nation when two Silver Spring parents were investigated for child neglect.
Alex DeMetrick reports that investigation into what’s become known as “free range parenting” is now formally dropped.
When their 10-year-old son and six-year-old daughter walked home from a nearby park last October, someone called 911 and Child Protective Services investigated.
Danielle Meitiv and her husband were later cleared of child neglect—until the police picked up their children during another park visit in April. That launched a second investigation, which also found no child neglect.
“Well, the official part is [over]. The investigations are, and we’re really happy about that,” Meitiv said. “We’re relieved.”
She says the worst part was in April, when police held her children for hours without telling her.
“It was still really harrowing to go through it. Just the idea of being investigated for something simple and making a smart, sensible parenting decision,” she said.
A decision that’s become known as “free range parenting,” although a two block walk through their neighborhood might be considered a pretty small range.
The case resulted in a policy directive from Child Protective Services on unattended children. It only becomes neglect if there are “…circumstances that indicate that the child’s health or welfare is harmed or placed at a substantial risk of harm.”
Meitiv says she will continue to allow her children to come to this park on their own. In fact, she’ll fight for it.
“We won’t really know for sure if the policy is really changed until our children can go to the park and come back without being harassed. The fight from here on is to make sure other families don’t have to go through this,” she said.
Child Protective Services have said in the past it could not comment on the investigations or their outcomes on grounds of confidentiality.