Parents Responsible for Unsubstantiated Neglect. Really.

For letting their children walk outside together, CPS has ruled parents are responsible for unsubstantiated neglect.

neglected

Those were the words officially released by Maryland Child Services. Thus the Washington Post headline: “‘Unsubstantiated’ child neglect finding for free-range parents.”

The Maryland parents investigated for letting their young children walk home by themselves from a park were found responsible for “unsubstantiated” child neglect in a decision that has not fully resolved their clash with authorities over questions of parenting and children’s safety.

Danielle and Alexander Meitiv hoped the nationally debated case — which has lit up social media and brought a dozen television film crews to their Silver Spring home — would be dismissed after a two-month investigation by Montgomery County Child Protective Services.

But the finding of unsubstantiated child neglect means CPS will keep a file on the family for at least five years and leaves open the question of what would happen if the Meitiv children get reported again for walking without adult supervision.

Obviously, CPS is engaging in deliberately contradictory language. On the one hand they are responsible. On the other hand, the neglect is “unsubstantiated”—which means… What?

Just a reminder: earlier CPS had accused the parents of allowing a child under the age of eight “to be locked or confined in a dwelling, building, enclosure, or motor vehicle while the person charged is absent.” That’s right: allowing your child to play outside is the same as locking them in a car by themselves.

My guess is that CPS is worried about the political pushback for defining raising free range children as “abuse.” But they want to do it. By saying the abuse is “unsubstantiated,” they can deny that they have found the practice to be abusive. But the actual intention is to intimidate the Meitivs to submit to their wishes and keep their children indoors.

It is insane that we pay taxes to fund people to torture us in these ways.

One bizarre feature of this incident is that CPS claims they have “closed” the case. But they also claim that they are keeping the file for five years. So all that “closed” means here is: “We haven’t decided to punish you for this much, but if you add to it, we will be ready to reevaluate and maybe punish you then.”

For more on the background of the incident, there is a summary at Reason.com, including the threat that “shots will be fired” at one point in the ordeal.

Welcome to Nanny State, USA.