Child Protective Services have charged two parents in Maryland with “unsubstantiated child neglect” after they allowed their 10-year-old and 6-year old to walk home one mile from their local playground.
Police were called after someone spotted the two children making their way home on December 20 in Silver Spring, a suburb outside Washington, D.C.
“Police had also received an anonymous call about the kids two months earlier, on Oct. 27, after the kids were playing at a closer park, just blocks away from their home. That case was later dropped by CPS,” reports the Today Show.
Parents Danielle and Alexander Meitiv received a letter from CPS last month informing them of the “unsubstantiated child neglect” charge, which means that the case will remain in the state’s database for five years if no further reports are added to the file.
“I don’t want there to be a file. We never should have been on their radar in the first place. We shouldn’t be in their system at all and certainly not with some allegation of neglect, whether substantiated or not,” said Danielle Meitiv, who is a science consultant and writer.
Both Danielle and her husband, Alexander Meitiv, a physicist at the National Institute of Health, have refused to allow the investigation to change their parenting style, which emphasizes independence and trust.
They plan on appealing the charge in an effort to expunge the record, although Sandra Barnes, an assistant attorney general in the Maryland Department of Human Resources, said that such a move could lead to the charge being escalated to an “indicated” case of child neglect.
“I absolutely am nervous, and that’s why we have to fight this,” said Danielle. “What happens the next time? I refuse to be bullied into this, ‘We know this is right and healthy for our kids, but we’re going to keep them home because we’re scared of CPS?’ That’s just insane. That’s why we have to fight it.”
Cases such as this emphasize how parents are increasingly being treated with suspicion merely for allowing their kids to be “free range” to a limited extent. A similar circumstance leading to a CPS investigation would have been unheard of 20 years ago.
Such incidents dovetail with media PR campaigns about how children to longer belong to their parents, but to the “community” and the state.
“We have to break through our private idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families,” said MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry during a 2013 promotional campaign which argued for more public money to be used for government education.