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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

FEATURED QUESTION: "Free-Range Parenting"

(This blog post to remain here for several days. Please scroll down for other material)

Recently, two "free-range" children (age 10 and age 6) were held in custody for hours in Montgomery County, Maryland, as the parents frenetically sought the whereabouts of this children.

Full article from the Washington Post below the fold. Please read the entire article before commenting.
Montgomery County takes ‘free-range children’ into custody again

The two Montgomery County children who were picked up last year while walking home alone were taken into custody again Sunday, authorities said.

The children of Danielle and Alexander Meitiv were taken into custody by county police at a park about 5 p.m. and turned over to the Child Protective Services agency, said Capt. Paul Starks, the county police spokesman. The children’s mother said they were released to the couple at 10:30 p.m. Sunday.

The parents said the children, who are 10 and 6 and have been described as “free-range children,” had been expected home at 6 p.m. Sunday. When that time passed, the parents said, they began looking for them.

“We have been searching for the kids for hours,’’ the mother said in a Facebook posting. They learned of the children’s whereabouts about 8 p.m. The mother said they later spent about a half-hour at the CPS offices in Rockville without being allowed to see them.

Starks said police were dispatched after a stranger saw the unaccompanied children in the park near Fenton and Easley streets. He said police took the children to the CPS office.

No charges had been placed, Starks said, and the matter remained under investigation.

After CPS investigated the earlier incident, the Meitivs were notified that a finding of “unsubstantiated neglect” had been made. That is one of three findings that can be made in neglect investigations. The others are “ruled out” and “indicated.”

An official said that the “unsubstantiated” finding is typically made when CPS has some information supporting a conclusion of child neglect, when seemingly credible reports are at odds with each other or when there is insufficient information for a more definitive conclusion.

The Meitivs’ case prompted debate about responsible parenting, child safety and the government’s role. The couple takes the view that children learn self-reliance by being allowed to make choices and progressively experience the world on their own.
The local news reported that the younger child said that the two children were offered a ride home by the police, but then rode around in the car for two hours before being taken to the CPS office. Home is about two blocks away from the park, and the children were taken into custody some three hours before sunset.

According to WTOP:
The parents had to sign a temporary safety plan to take them home, saying they can’t leave the children unattended
Additional reading: Petula Dvorak's column on the topic. Excerpt:
...This is all getting pretty ridiculous. Somehow, we’ve morphed from being a village that helps raise children to a parenting police state....

FEATURED QUESTION, in two parts: (1) Were the Montgomery County Police Department and the Montgomery County Department of Child Protective Service out of line with the actions taken on Sunday, April 12, 2015? (2) Should free-range parenting be forbidden by law?


  1. Of course the cops were out of line. As government grows more all-powerful it will also grow pushier and more punitive.

    Just as modern governments have found ways to impose socialism without physically seizing the means of production, they have also inveigled their way into the family, with the threat of CPS hanging over all parents like the sword of Damocles. Throw in the time our children spend in government indoctrination centers commonly referred to as "public schools," and add on how much government propaganda they are bombarded with every day via popular media, and our children are no longer our own.

    Our children belong to the state. We just feed, clothe, house them and spend our hard-earned money on them.

    1. I agree with you in the main, SF, but at the same time I do think a SIX-year -old is too young to be allowed to wander the streets and public parks on his own. Even a TEN-year-old is a bit young for that given the dangers of the world we must live in today.

      When I was a child, we ran out and played wit our friends totally unsupervised for hours. Sometimes this included riding our bikes "downtown" or all the way a neighboring community.

      No one locked his door either in those days, unless they were going away on vacation.

      Thanks to forced integration of alien cultures in our midst by government fiat, and the fear, resentment and social tension this has brought all the trust we once enjoyed has evaporated, and so has much of the neighborliness and sense of kinship we enjoyed back in the 1940's, and 50's.

    2. Speaking of indoctrination, here is a perfectly packaged and regurgited piece of progressive boilerplate emanating from the mouth of Jersey McJones:

      "Neighborliness and kinship are products of smart mixed development"

      Chairman Mao or Uncle Joe Stalin couldn't have said it any better.

      Neighborliness and kinship are products of shared interests and values, not politburo-planned communities.

  2. I understand that the parents are now filing a lawsuit.

  3. 'Free range"? Since when did moving apart from one's parents become "free range" They are not chickens are they?

    1. Funny! I was thinking exactly the same thing, Bunkerville, and as serious as the issue is, it still gave me a chuckle. Children are definitely not chickens, nor are they cattle.

      What will the Out-of-Control Authoritarian TYRANNISTS think up next? BRANDING our babies before they leave the hospital, perhaps?

    2. or perhaps inserting a microchip to track them throughout life.

    3. That thought occurred to me too, Bunkerville, and I'm afraid the way things are going such procedures are fast becoming inevitable.

      Despotism is given carte blanche once a given society abandons Liberty in favor of Safety. Societal obsession with Safety First is one of the oldest –– and deadliest –– traps in the world.

      It is the product of a FEMINIZED society where manly pursuits are frowned upon and even criminalized.

  4. "Free Range" is a term chosen on purpose, in the vein of free-range chickens and free-range cattle. Free Range parenting is the polar opposite of helicopter parenting.

    We perceive a more dangerous environment here in the US, but crime statistics tell a different story.

    Here is a great summary provided by Lenore Skenazy of the Free-Range Kids website, whose byline is "How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without going nuts with worry).

    The Polly Klaas Foundation Provides similar data

    99.8% of the children who go missing do come home.

    * Nearly 90% of missing children have simply misunderstood directions or miscommunicated their plans, are lost, or have run away.

    * 9% are kidnapped by a family member in a custody dispute.

    * 3% are abducted by non-family members, usually during the commission of a crime such as robbery or sexual assault. The kidnapper is often someone the child knows.

    * Only about 100 children (a fraction of 1%) are kidnapped each year in the stereotypical stranger abductions you hear about in the news.

    * About half of these 100 children come home.

    Statistically, and unfortunately, friends and family members are the greatest danger to children:

    Of all children under age 5 murdered from 1976-2005 —

    31% were killed by fathers
    29% were killed by mothers
    23% were killed by male acquaintances
    7% were killed by other relatives
    3% were killed by strangers

    Having said all that, every situation is different. What is the crime profile of the neighborhood? Did the children have cell phones? Do the children understand the good and bad of their environment and how to react and conduct themselves?

    More info:



    1. Looks like it's more important to keep our kids from parents than the 'big bad outside neighborhood'!

      I have heard the children were well primed on what could happen, how to handle themselves away from their parents, but I think six years old is really young to be off with a ten yr old brother.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. @SF,

      Thanks for the cogent and factual comment in this thread. I'd like to see a Nanny State advocate's response to these facts.

    4. JonBerg,

      I know what their response would be: No concern is too trivial, no statistical data point too infinitesimal to prevent them from pushing around the rest of us and lecturing us on how to run our lives

    5. I'm not unsympathetic to the parents. Back in the day we just came home from school loaded our bikes with our baseball gear or picked up our skates in winter and headed to the park (there were several options) we knew to head home for supper and never had a problem.

      That said, six is too young to stray very far.

  5. "The local news reported that the younger child said that the two children were offered a ride home by the police, but then rode around in the car for two hours"

    WHAT? If "the two children were offered a ride home by the police" why weren't they just given exactly that with, perhaps, a word of caution to the parents. Why did they ride around for two hours? What actual law(s) was broken? If you ask me the role of the police should be to assure the safety of those walking to and from venues such as the park and not some bizarre voyage as described in this article. Notwithstanding the dangers lurking in our broken society, this story sounds 'fishy', at best!

  6. It's an odd dichotomy, the liberal social paradigm regarding children. One hand, it "takes a village" yet on the other, we have to keep them out of the village.

    It won't be long before someone here proposes a Scotland-like [woe my beloved Scotland...] "Named Guardian" bill.

  7. Recent case of dealing with CPS (Child Protective Services)....

    A mother was grilled by CPS after her child fell; as a precaution, she took the child to the ER.

    "Who watches your children?"

    "I do. I am an at-home mom."

    "Who watches you watch your children?"

    There was absolutely no foundation for suspecting child abuse None! Still, the family had to surrender all of the children to another adult while the investigation proceeded.

    Surreal! But this is the trend now.

    1. "Who watches you watch your children?" That is B*LLSH*T! (Mr. B wading in here. I'm reading these aloud and Mr. B is not going to digest his lunch.) This actually happened in my family, too. The children weren't removed from the home but my EXTREMELY active grandson took a spill that required a medical visit. There is NO history or even the vaguest signs of abuse in that household, yet the CPS was on them like a duck on a June bug. Plus years of 'probation.'

      I read about the Scottish bill - whew!

    2. Baysider,
      Happened in your family, too? How many such cases ARE THERE?

      Have we moved from "it takes a village" to state ownership of children?

  8. I'd sure CPS in a heartbeat if they made me wait that long to know my children were safe. THAT is a crime.

    AOW...I have a friend who's a grandmother with custody of her grandson. He fell in the bathroom and hit his head....started acting odd, so they took him to the UCLA ER...CPS got involved, coming in to interview friends/relatives who were hovering (the kid tested very hurt at first, then fine the second time...very tough time for the family)....all friends/family said Shelley'd never hurt that boy!
    Shelley STILL has CPS hovering, calling, asking questions, and this was 9 months ago. It's insulting and 'our tax paying dollars at work' in the worst way.

    1. Z,
      Is the situation going to get so bad that excellent parents become so fearful of the ER that they don't take their children there?

    2. I hope not. I'm sure my friend Shelley would think twice.
      What worried me even MORE was that, despite the excellent hospitals she took Micah to, the first hospital said he was practically near death with a terrible concussion and some even WORSE stuff I can't remember now, and then UCLA said "Nope, he's JUST FINE!"
      THAT's scary!
      But ya.....I wish the CPS would stick to the really awful cases they have; it's not like there's enough out there.

      Funny...on Easter, a friend of the family brought her little 2 yr old with her to my uncle's and when i asked where her little girl was, (hadn't yet seen her), she said "She's in the car still sleeping...but the window's open"
      I said I had to go call CPS! We all cracked UP! Of course, the car was parked right in front of the front doors, on a very secluded, private driveway way down from the secluded road leading to Uncle's but.... I just had to laugh! "I'm calling CPS!" :-)

  9. If the intrusive government CPS existed in my little farm town, both of my parents would have been locked up and I would have been packed off to an orphanage.

    Off the top of my head, here are some of my exploits

    * gashed my head open-bicycle wreck-trip to emergency room for stitches

    * gashed my head open-bicycle wreck (Again, years later) emergency room, stitches, again

    * gashed my foot open barefoot in the creek trying to catch catfish with my bare hands (emergency room, stitches)

    * Attacked by a friend's German Shepard (emergency room, stitches)

    * Broke my leg when I fell trying to jump from the roof of my cousins' house into a tree (emergency room-cast)

    * multiple fights, sometime on school grounds/detention

    * multiple run-ins with the law

    And on top of it all, running around outside all day Saturday because my mom believed too much TV was bad for you and would kick me out of the house and tell me not to come back until lunchtime

    1. Your Mom was like mine about TV (tho she never DID shake my love for it) but I'd say the rest of your escapades were ALL the fault of your neglectful parents. (Smile)!!

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. In some ways, I was a "free-range" kid. Some 45 acres surrounded our 6 acres, and Mom tossed me out the door with instructions as to what time to be back home and warnings as to where I should not wander (up to the local general store, for example, which was on the main highway). I was an only child, so most of the time, the family dog was my chaperone.

      Never had to have stitches, never broke a bone. The worst miseries I faced as consequences: sunburn and poison ivy.

      Yes, yes, a different time. I know.

    4. Cool list, Silverfiddle.

      I dig the jumping off the roof stunt.

      I managed a broken forearm going over a ramp standing up on my sled.
      Those were the days.

    5. I like your sled ramp story. None of us tried that one, maybe because there were no hills...

      We did do ramp jumps on bicycles, resulting sometimes in some pretty spectacular crashes

  10. Pocket knife competitions in grade school, unaccompanied camping/canoeing trips with guns, knives and matches before I was even 13...

    Farm implements, catching water moccasins, bb gun fights...

  11. @ SF,

    Hey, those were the days weren't they. I think we can call it preparation for the REAL WORLD. How about we add those jobs (cutting grass, etc.) that we almost fought each other to get? If and when the "Nanny State" kids are ever weaned; how will/do they cope?

    1. Those were the days. I forgot to mention me getting bit by a possum I thought I had killed, and accidentally getting hacked in the leg by a machete-wielding buddy clearing weeds.

      I wonder if those farmers I toiled in hot fields all day for would be fined or jailed for not having aid stations, OSHA-approved water distribution systems and for not giving us federally mandated breaks in the shade...

  12. OK, I'll quit now. I'm starting to sound like an old timer

    1. SF,
      Sounds as if you had an interesting childhood!

    2. Sounds like he's lucky he came out ALIVE! :-)

    3. Z,
      Well, maybe.

      But he had a great childhood by my standards -- in some ways, at least.

    4. It was a wonderful childhood. Kind of a cross between Mayberry and and Tom Sawyer-Huck Finn.

      Me and my buddies hopped a freight train to the next town once, and then realized how stupid we were when we had to walk the train track 8 miles back home when no train going the other way appeared.

    5. SF and AOW: Would you release a 10 and 6 yr old in Brooklyn today?

    6. Z,
      I don't really know all that much about Brooklyn.

      But I do know the section of Montgomery County mentioned in the body of this blog post. Safe area!

    7. Z: It's definitely context-driven. I wouldn't let my kids go out roaming anywhere that was not familiar to me and them.

      Life is a gamble. Polly Klaas was abducted from her own bedroom by a stranger. The POS who molested and killed her is still on death row after 20 years.

    8. SF,
      Polly Klaas was abducted from her own bedroom by a stranger.

      There are other similar cases, too.

  13. Is CPS as concerned about latchkey kids as about "free range" children?

    I also see a lot of library drop-offs at our local libraries. Many librarians are concerned about this matter -- and rightly so, IMO.

  14. It is not necessarily true that a 10 year old cannot adequately supervise a 6 year old. Depends on the children themselves. Parents are -- or should be -- the ones who can best make the judgment.

    1. AOW, I think a 10 yr old would be hard pressed to get a 6 yr old from the clutches of a pedophile, for example. Sure, in a rural neighborhood in a safe street...no problem.
      But, in general? While this seems to be a rural area and the park, and safe, the park was one mile from their house, and a mile's a long way for any six year old to walk.
      Anyway....I HATE the idea of the leftwing policing parents over their kid, and I really have a problem with 'helicopter parents' but we need to be careful these days; it's not what it was when we were being raised....

    2. Z,
      An area more populated can be safer than a rural area. The factors are variable, of course.

      Helicopter parents convey to their children a set of problems. I've seen too much of those effects.

    3. Z,
      Addendum: it is not only the leftwing policing parents who hover.

      In any case, certain parent behaviors probably result in turning the next generation into people who cannot stand being alone. But sooner or later, all of us have to be alone -- at least, from time to time.

    4. You know, I'd be a bit more worried in an urban area where anything can happen totally unseen...and yes, rural areas, too.
      Of course these parents aren't all leftwing.

      I think all this conversation just reminds us anything can happen anywhere; or not.

      Six years old is much younger to me than it seems to be for most of you. I give up :=)

    5. Z,
      Six years old is much younger to me than it seems to be for most of you.

      Is 6 years old younger now than it used to be? If so, why?

      A 6 year old on his own is different from a 6 year old in the company of a 10 year old, IMO. Particularly if the 10 year old is mature and well instructed by his parents.

      In any case, the major point of this blog post is the action taken by the Montgomery County Police Department and the Montgomery County Department of Child Protective Services.

      BTW, below I am posting a question for consideration. You might want to participate if discussion pursues.

  15. In general, parents are in the best position to know the capabilities and maturity level of their kids. You make a decision if your child starts school this year or next, if he's born right on the cusp. You know if that kid is 'ready' especially if it isn't your first. Some children are born 'old souls' to quote a man I know with an early maturing kid. When I was 7 and my brother 12 we walked home together (and no others) from church - over a mile - when mom had to leave early to tend to Sunday dinner. Mr. B walked over a mile alone to school when he was 6. NOW at our local high school, parents' cars are backed up over 7 blocks to pick up their kids after school.

    I ended up in the OR for drinking ant poison at 2 yrs. My mom should have been more careful where she put it out with a crawler in the house. The doctor made her watch him pump my stomach - that was enough for the lesson! Mom was very meticulous and careful - not at all neglectful. But she did not hover! Man, that screws with your psyche.

    The state wants parents to exercise unnatural 'control' over their children (except at the abortion clinic!), then the state wants to exercise unnatural control over the parents. This is not moving in a happy direction.

  16. "Who watches you watch your children?" is the story I conveyed to AOW that happened in my family tree.

    Within two hours in the E.D. the CPS social worker was referring to the couple as "the perpetrators". All this, even though the child had a minor fracture and was released from the hospital. The sheriff who investigated stated he could see no cause for alarm. But the parents were treated like criminals.

    When the family member secured a lawyer, CPS told the family "There is no need for a lawyer. This is a civil case." Wrong. You need to retain a lawyer.

    Harassment and mismanagement and veiled threats prevailed. The children were immediately removed from the home and the grandparents took the children. The grandparents were designated as "line of sight" care givers. The mother could be in the (grandparents) home with them, but only when they were present. She could not spend the night. After about one week, the children began to show signs of emotional distress because they could not understand why they could not go home.

    Important facts:

    All children had vaccination records and office visits with the same pediatrician. In fact, it was the pediatrician who recommended an emergency room visit. Yet after three weeks, CPS had STILL not contacted the doctor.

    There was no history of abuse. The children are well-groomed and behave within the developmental parameters for early childhood development.

    Thousands of dollars later and with much bitterness, here is what my family learned.

    *CPS is predatory.

    *Get a lawyer. Get a lawyer who has expertise in dealing with CPS. Spare no expense.

    *Have the lawyer file that CPS can only visit with pre-appointment and the lawyer present to represent your interests. Do not allow CPS to visit without legal advocacy.

    *Close the blinds. CPS has been known to sit down the block and spy on the family.

    *If in the initial thirty days nothing happens - CPS must GO TO COURT with forensic evidence to present their case. Force them to go to court. It doesn't matter if they "don't have their investigation completed". They must go to court.

    *Do NOT sign for an extension of the investigation. This leaves it open-ended for up to a year - and the children may be displaced for that length of time.

    *Force CPS to go to court with their conclusions at the end of thirty days. Period.

    *Do NOT sign up and agree to "parenting classes". The classes here were offered at 1:30 p.m., which meant a disruption of work for the family to attend and learn how to "bathe" a baby. *How must of this is a cash cow? Hmmm.

    *Know that threats are veiled, the bureaucracy does not work, and without a lawyer, you may see your children displaced for literal months.

    Who is the best parent for a child? I believe in 99.9 percent of the cases, it is the biological or adoptive parents.

    Please do not think that this cannot happen to you. My relatives were presumed guilty without any evidence. The case was dropped. But not before CPS showed up one last time to "check on the children".

    The children were lined up on the porch. The CPS worked was told to look at the children. Then the worker was told, "Get the hell off of our property."

    1. Just Google "The McMartin Case." It will tell you ALL you need to know and MORE about involving GOVERNMENT in the rearing and disciplining of children.

      ALL TOTALITARIAN REGIMES advocate Separation and Alienation of Children from their Parents. Both COMMUNISTS and FASCISTS want to destroy the nuclear family in order to gain TOTAL CONTROL of EVERY ASPECT of the children's lives. This CONTROL is ALWAYS instituted in name of PROTECTING the children.

      From what source do you imagine the current "fad" for near-hysterical concern over Child Molestation and Sex Abuse came?

      It came from MARXISTS in Education, Social Work, Dissemination of News and Information and even the modern "Church of the Social Gospel."

    2. Wow! I'm sure they just want to go back to normal lives. But this story must be told more. Thanks for sharing it here. I'd LOVE to be on this jury.

    3. Baysider,
      Aren't the above details posted by Anonymous stunning? And in a terrible way.

      How frequent is something like this happening in "the land of the free and the home of the brave"?

  17. At six I was pretty much restricted to the alley behind our house (one block long), at ten I pretty much had free run of a two by eight block area. By 12 or 13 my friends and I were riding our bikes 12 miles to go fish at a lake, not much later I was taking the subway into center city.

    My wife and I had a run in with CPS, I was at work and my wife who worked nights was napping, our three year old pushed out the screen and climbed out his ground floor window (the sill was no more than a foot off the ground). One of our neighbors saw him playing outside by himself, lured him into her home with offers of cookies and called the police, they were going to charge my wife with child endangerment. Fortunately as it seems the DA's dog had bitten my older son on the face after she told him he could pet it, she was reasonable and paid the medical bills for the stitches the plastic surgeon put in, we were reasonable and didn't sue. After talking with the DA the charges were dropped... see? Karma.

    1. Finntann,
      Thanks for sharing the story about your run in with CPS.

      Has CPS become hyper-vigilant? Or something.

  18. For discussion:

    Which parents are more negligent -- parents such as those cited in the body of this blog post OR parents who both condone and finance their children's Beach Week

    I am, of course, thinking of this recent news story as I post this comment. Yes, the individuals involved are adults, and the parallels with this story and the topic of the blog post are not exact. Still, I haven't heard anything about the parents of the individuals involved. Perhaps I missed the parents' comments?

    1. No contest. What's gotten in to people today? Such parents are raising, entitled, irresponsible adults who will never grow up.

      Also a lot of news stories about parents (usually moms) 'partying' with their teens and their teens' friends.

  19. @AoW - I thought that this might interest you.

    1. Thersites,
      Thanks. I've heard about it but didn't know the details.

    2. What's worse than a logic puzzle?

      A poorly worded logic puzzle.

      I got it anyway.

    3. I learned of it from William Briggs, Statistician to the Stars.

      I love his blog. Statistics and Christian Morality have never been blended so artfully or intelligently.

  20. Jesus, would the cops and CPS just BUTT OUT of these people's lives? These kids aren't ducklings and they don't need helicopter parents. Where has discretion gone? And this from a cop.



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