Md. ‘free-range parents’ responsible for ‘unsubstantiated’ child neglect

WASHINGTON — The case of the two Maryland “free-range parents” accused of child neglect for letting their 10- and 6-year-old children walk home by themselves from a park a mile away has reached an uncertain conclusion.

Danielle and Alexander Meitiv were found responsible for “unsubstantiated” child neglect, The Washington Post reports. That means that Montgomery County Child Protective Services will keep a file on them for at least five years.

While being responsible for something that is unsubstantiated sounds like a contradiction, Paula Tolson, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Department of Human Resources, told the Post that it’s one of three possible findings in such a case. The others are ruled out or indicated.

She told the Post that if CPS received another report of the Meitiv children walking around unsupervised, they’d get involved if someone complained about the kids’ safety. “If we get a call from law enforcement or from a citizen, we are required to investigate,” she said. “Our goal is the safety of children, always.”

The case began Dec. 20 of last year, when someone called the police after they saw Rafi, 10, and Dvora, 6, walking by themselves in Silver Spring. Their parents said they allowed them to walk home from Woodside Park because they could handle the journey.

The Meitivs believe that their parenting philosophy gives children more independence. The case has raised arguments nationwide about the twin extremes of free-range and “helicopter” parenting.

Danielle Meitiv was upset by the finding. The Post reports that she says the children played by themselves at a nearby park on Mon day during the snow day.

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