Danielle and Sasha Meitiv believe in what is referred to as free-range parenting. This means that their children, Rafi, 10 and Dvora, 6, are allowed to explore the neighborhood without adult supervision. The family lives in the suburbs of Silver Springs, MD.
Just before 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, the Montgomery County, Maryland police department were called to check on the Meitiv children. The children were found two blocks from their home, at the park, with no adult supervision. A police cruiser picked up the children and the officer told them they would drop them off at home. The two children were in the back of a police cruiser for two and a half hours. While the children were in police custody, no one called the Meitivs’ to let them know where they were. Danielle and Sasha told their children to be home by 6:00 p.m. When Rafi and Dvora did not come home, they started to look for their children.
After the two-and-a-half-hour wait, Rafi and Dvora were driven ten miles to the Child Protective Services in Rockville, Maryland. The Meitivs’ were not called until after 8:00 p.m. and Rafi and Dvora were not released to them until 10:30 p.m. Child Protective Services would not allow the Meitivs’ to take their children until they signed a safety plan agreeing to not leave their children alone. No free-range parenting, under penalty.
Danielle posted on Facebook that her children were lied to by the police, in order for the police to get them into the patrol car. It was three hours before she was notified and her children had not been fed. They did not get home until 11 p.m. and the children slept in bed with them because they were still scared by the entire ordeal. The children, who freely roam the town, are now afraid of police officers.
The couple believes in giving their children their independence, giving them the freedom to explore on their own. This is the very definition of free-range parenting. They were angry that their children were not returned to them as soon as they were picked up. The children were playing in the park, in the middle of the day, but their free-range parenting is not rendered safe by Maryland’s standards.
Maryland law states that children have to be eight-years-old to be left unattended in a house or a car, but the law does not say anything about them being outside. Also, a child must be 13 to supervise another child under the age of eight.
No charges have been filed at this time; however there is an investigation underway. The family truly does not understand why they are being accused of neglecting their children, by granting them the freedom to play outdoors. This was a comment made by Danielle in an email. She also wants it to be known that the family will continue to raise their children using the free-range parenting style.
The couple was accused of neglect, in December, for letting their children roam the neighborhood without an adult, in their suburban Silver Springs, neighborhood. At that time, Rafi and Dvora were two blocks from home, returning from the playground. On another occasion, the children were at a different park one mile away from home. Some call this free-range parenting, others call it sending the children out to play.
February, the Meitivs’ were found liable for “unsubstantiated” child neglect by Child Protective Services. This is being appealed because it means the family will have an agency file for a minimum of five years.
By Jeanette Smith
Photo courtesy of Kathy Cassidy – Flickr License