Why are parents threatened for letting children play?
Remember the series of horror stories we heard about parents leaving their kids in vehicles? Well, just recently a Maryland mother was charged with 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.”
The only problem with this is that the children were not locked anywhere. They were not confined to any “dwelling, building, enclosure, or motor vehicle” while an adult was absent.
They were outside. The mother let her six and ten year old child walk two blocks to a neighborhood park and play. Someone called the cops and Montgomery County Child Welfare decided that the law about not leaving a child alone trapped in a car or house was the same as letting them walk outside.
The good news is they eventually backed down as the case started giving them bad publicity.
But not for long.
The mother writes to Lenore Skenazy (the author of Free Range Kids):
This past Saturday, while I was out of town, my husband dropped my kids off at a park about 1 mile from our house and said they could walk home together. They got 1/2 way when someone called the police.
The kids were picked up in a patrol car and brought home. The policewoman asked to see my husband’s ID. When he refused, she said she was going to call for back-up. He said he would get his ID and went to go upstairs. She said – in front of the kids – that if he came down with anything else, “shots would be fired.”
At this point 10 yr old. called me crying, saying that the police were there and that Daddy was going to be arrested. My husband stepped outside to continue the conversation away from the kids. When he disagreed with one of the officers about the dangers that walking alone posed to the kids, she actually asked him: “Don’t you watch TV?” (The answer was no). They took notes and left.
Then child protective services showed up, demanding that he sign “a plan” that promised continual monitoring until Monday when they would meet with the powers that be in the child protective services bureaucracy. When he refused, she called the police and said they would snatch the children if he didn’t sign.
The mother writes,
This is outrageous. We refuse to deprive our children of critical opportunities tofree-range-kidsdevelop responsibility and independence, and have no intention of fundamentally changing our parenting to accommodate this kind of paranoia and bullying, but it’s not going to be easy. We are now waiting for the call from Child Welfare and looking for someone who can give us legal advice on these issues in Maryland.
I have to admit when I read stories on your site and elsewhere about CPS threatening to take kids away, I never thought it could happen to us. I’ll keep you posted.