About Time! Parents Cleared of Letting Children Play Outside … for Now

The Meitivs were charged with neglect for letting their children play outside; they have been cleared in one of the two instances.

Child Protective Services has, in one case, cleared parents of the accusation of “neglecting” their children by letting them walk to the neighborhood park and play.

Ironically, in the second case, the children were grabbed by strangers and held captive for hours—the strangers being the police.

The Washington Post reports, “Maryland’s ‘free range’ parents cleared of neglect in one case.”

A Maryland couple investigated for neglect after they let their two young children walk home alone from local parks have been cleared in one of two such cases, according to the family’s attorneys and documents.

The new Child Protective Services finding, which follows an appeal, comes as the experiences of “free range” parents Danielle and Alexander Meitiv have drawn national attention, sparking debate about parenting choices and how far local officials should go to enforce laws designed to protect children.

It overturns a previous CPS decision that held the Meitivs responsible for “unsubstantiated” child neglect, a finding typically made when there is conflicting or insufficient information for a more definitive conclusion.

The change came as a welcome surprise to the Meitivs, who were informed in letters they received May 18 that neglect was “ruled out” in the case, which dates to their children’s December walk from Woodside Park.

“It was an enormous relief and vindication,” Danielle Meitiv said in a Washington Post interview, the family’s first in six weeks. “Of course there’s no neglect here. There never was. There was never even a hint of it.”

I am very happy for the Meitivs, but I am really worried about that second case that the bureaucracy has left hanging over their heads. Daniell Meitiv expresses the hope that CPS will have to make the same decision in the one case as the other. I hope she is right.

But the mysteriousness of these decisions is also troubling. No one seems to know why the charges were brought in the first place or on what basis they were then cleared of these charges. While the verdict was right, it is anyone’s guess how they reached it.

They are basically waiting for a bureaucracy to let them know its decision without any idea how that decision will be made.