The Maryland parents who were under investigation after letting their two young children walk home by themselves have been found responsible for unsubstantiated child neglect, The Washington Post reports.
Danielle and Alexander Meitiv believe in a “free-range” approach when it comes to parenting. They let their 10-year-old son Rafi and 6-year-old daughter Dvora walk home from the park and from school without adult supervision.
On Dec. 20, a resident called the police after seeing the two kids walking by themselves.
Silver Spring Police picked up Rafi and Dvora, who were walking home from the park, and Montgomery County Child Protective Services launched an investigation into their parents.
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As it turns out, unsubstantiated child neglect is not a criminal charge, but it is often a prelude to them. It also gives the CPS the power to keep a file on the parents for at least five years.
But the Meitivs are not backing down and said they will continue to raise their children as they see fit. They claim that giving their children a sense of independence is their right as parents.
“We’re amazed this has become a national conversation because we’re just doing what our parents did or (what) was considered perfectly normal just one generation ago,” Danielle said on the Today Show in January. “I think what’s really unfortunate is that we’re really overestimating the danger and underestimating our children.”
Danielle recently confirmed to The Washington Post that she and her husband plan to appeal the decision.
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“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 said. “What will happen next time?”
This “free-range” philosophy of parenting was popularized in 2008 by New York Journalist Lenore Skenazy in an article entitled “Why I Let my 9-Year-Old Ride the Subway Alone.”
She expressed her disdain for the ruling against the Meitivs.
“The go-to narrative in the last 20 or 30 years for parents was, ‘Take your eyes off your kid for even a second and he’ll be snatched,’” Skenazy explained to The Washington Post. “What the Meitiv case did was pivot the story to: ‘Give your kid one second of freedom and the government will arrest you.’”
Child Protective Services, which Danielle says has repeatedly arrived at their home unannounced and interviewed their children without their knowledge or consent, told The Washington Post that it plans to follow procedure.
“If we get a call from law enforcement or from a citizen, we are required to investigate,” said Paula Tolson, spokeswoman for the Maryland Department of Human Resources. “Our goal is the safety of children, always.”
Danielle admitted that when she first read the decision, she felt numb and “kind of horrified.”
“You try as a parent to do what’s right,” she said. “Parents try so hard. Even though I know they are wrong, it’s a painful judgment.”
Photo Credit: Danielle Meitiv via Today