Family life

Community's fight with free-range parents continues

The children of free-range parents Danielle and Alexander Meitiv were picked up and held by police on Sunday.

free-range parents meitiv

Photo: Author profile page for Danielle Meitiv

UPDATE: Danielle and Alexander Meitiv have issued a statement regarding the events surrounding the detainment on Sunday of their children by Maryland CPS and Montgomery County Police. “The Meitivs intend to fully vindicate their rights as parents and their children’s rights, and to prevent this from happening to their children again,” states Matthew Dowd, a partner with Wiley Rein, the legal firm representing the family. Read the family’s statement here.

It’s been called “The Walk Heard Around The World“: the unsupervised walk home from a Maryland park by 10-year-old Rafi Meitiv and his six-year-old sister, Dvora. The children made headlines around the world in December 2014 when their parents, Danielle and Alexander, were reported to Child Protective Services for not supervising their children. In February, Danielle and Alexander were found guilty of unsubstantiated child neglect by CPS.

And probably just when the Meitiv family was hoping to reclaim a sense of normalcy in their lives, Rafi and Dvora were picked up by police at 5 p.m. yesterday as they were walking together in their neighbourhood. When the Meitiv children failed to show up at the appointed meeting place, Danielle and Alexander began a frantic search, only to be told several hours later that CPS had their children in custody.

Almost six hours later, the family was reunited—but first the Meitivs had to sign a “safety plan,” according to a Facebook status update by Danielle. As of publishing time, the Meitivs have contacted their attorney and are not planning to do any press interviews. A formal statement will be issued at a later time.

February’s charge of unsubstantiated child neglect meant that CPS had some information which may support a charge of neglect, or has credible reports that are at odds with each other or does not have enough information to reach a definitive conclusion. The Meitivs appealed the ruling and said they didn’t plan to change their free-range parenting style.

Will the police detainment and subsequent investigation (CPS has confirmed they are again investigating the Meitivs) force not only the Meitivs to change their parenting style? Clearly, Child Protective Services, local police and so-called Good Samaritans who are reporting the unattended children have a beef with free-range parenting.

I’ve said it before, but the worst part of this whole story is not that the Meitivs have been charged, but that someone called the police in the first place. It takes a village to raise a child, but if misguided do-gooders find more satisfaction in seeing a family victimized and torn apart rather than, say, the more logical reaction of walking the child home themselves if they’re that worried, then the village is broken.

Follow along as Jennifer Pinarski shares her experiences about giving up her big city job and lifestyle to live in rural Ontario with her husband, while staying home to raise their two young children. Read more Run-at-home mom posts or follow her @JenPinarski.

Read more: 
Free-range kids healthier, more active: Study
Why I’m converting to free-range parenting
Confessions of a free-range parent