The Slatest

Maryland CPS Detains “Free-Range Kids.” Again.

Little boy walking in autumn park.
A child walking alone. A family in Maryland is under investigation for allowing their children to walk home from a park unattended.

Photo by Iurii Davydov/Thinkstock

Danielle and Alexander (Sasha) Meitiv, the causes célèbre of the “free-range parenting” movement, are back in the news—and back under investigation—after their children were again picked up by police for playing unattended in Montgomery County, Maryland.

The Meitivs’ two children, ages 10 and 6, were picked up by police in November while walking home alone from a park. The Meitivs spoke out, bringing attention to their case with the help of free-range parenting advocate Lenore Skenazy, and sharing details about being threatened by the police. In February the state of Maryland ended its investigation with a finding of “unsubstantiated child neglect,” which meant they could keep the family’s file open for five years.

There are conflicting reports—the Washington Posts says the kids were picked up in a park, while says they were within one-third of a mile of their home.  Either way, it appears the children were picked up by county police at about 5 p.m. and taken to Child Protective Services, but the Meitivs were not informed until 8 p.m. They were not reunited with their children until 10:30 p.m., and then only after they agreed to sign a “temporary safety plan” promising not to leave the children unattended. The children were reportedly left in a police car for several hours.

In a post at Reason, Skenazy reports that Danielle Meitiv had called her on their way to pick up the kids.          

“It was dark!” said Danielle, her voice shaking. “You know, I’d really had a nightmare about this, but I didn’t realize they would do it. I didn’t think they would. The kids must be terrified.”

In a follow-up post, Skenazy asks, “Has this incident made the Meitiv children any safer? When the authorities picked the children up a short distance from their house and took them away without telling their parents, what were they being protected from?”