A Maryland mother is upset with her local Child Protective Services (CPS) branch. The mother, who remains anonymous, emailed Reason this week after CPS officials told her it’s illegal for her children to play in a neighborhood park without supervision.
“These reps told me that Maryland law prohibits me from allowing my six-year old to go to the park, which is two blocks away in a residential neighborhood, with her 10-year old brother but no adult,” she writes. “This is not true.”
To argue her case, the mom dug up the specific statute being invoked by CPS:
"A person who is charged with the care of a child under the age of 8 years may not allow the child to be locked or confined in a dwelling, building, enclosure, or motor vehicle while the person charged is absent and the dwelling, building, enclosure, or motor vehicle is out of the sight of the person charged unless the person charged provides a reliable person at least 13 years old to remain with the child to protect the child."
Notice the difference? The law only applies to being locked or confined somewhere. Playing in a park alone, the mom argues, is perfectly legal.
“The way I see it,” the mother says, “‘locked or confined in a dwelling, building, enclosure, or motor vehicle’ does NOT include a neighborhood park and this statute does not preclude me from sending my six-year old there with her brother. Therefore, I will continue to do so.”
A CPS official responded to the mom and said Maryland judges interpret the law to apply to playgrounds, too.
“A cop could charge us $500, or a judge could give us 30 days in jail, if my daughter is without supervision in the park,” the representative said.
It seems like the mom will keep sending her kids to the park alone. We’ll let you know if this amounts to anything.