It didn't seem to them like a criminal act. They just let their kids walk themselves home.
When a couple decided to take a chance and grant their kids a bit more freedom, the state's response was swift: “Bad parents."
Two parents keep getting in trouble for the amount of freedom they give their kids.
When Danielle and Alexander Meitiv, parents in Silver Spring, Maryland, first let their 10-year-old walk their 6-year-old home from a park, they got a warning from child protective services and were forced to sign an agreement not to leave the children unattended anymore. It was that or lose the kids, according to this video (also below) from The Washington Post.
The Meitivs are trying to teach their kids to be self-sufficient in a way they feel is right. The Meitivs are part of the Free-Range Kids movement, whose motto is "How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts with Worry)."
The children were discovered again by themselves at a park in April 2015. This time, they were taken into protective custody, and the authorities wouldn't release them for over five hours.
The Meitivs were accused of neglect and warned that protective services would file charges and send the children into foster homes unless the parents made a legal commitment to a safety plan.
When is it OK for kids to go out on their own?
Maryland does have a state law that says children under 8 must be accompanied by a person of at least 13. It's on the books to protect young children who may otherwise lack proper adult supervision.
And a 10-year-old may seem young to be responsible for a 6-year-old. Maybe you agree with the Meitivs, maybe not. Still.
It's a hot topic right now for parents.
Are we doing the best thing for our kids by keeping such close tabs on them, or are we really holding them back due to our own paranoia about what could go wrong? Are we preventing them from learning to be independent just because we're terrified of the big, bad world? 24-hour media coverage of the bad things that happen is certainly scaring us out of our wits. It's called mean world syndrome.
Statistically, kids are safer now than they used to be.
According to the The Washington Post, there's never been a safer time to be a kid in America. The odds are really pretty good.
But it's not just about the odds. It's also about what's being risked.
In the end, the odds are meaningless if it's your child who comes to harm or worse. The unthinkables are why this topic is so charged and why parents are having such a hard time working out what to do about their children.
Opening the dialogue is critical.
Maybe the most important thing about the Meitivs' story after all is this: Because of it, so many more people are now aware of — and thinking about — this tricky, tricky issue that's right at the heart of how the next generation will live in this world. When they finally emerge from our careful protection, will it be as fearful, hesitant people or as life-embracing adults?