Danielle and Alexander Meitiv were thrust into the media spotlight when they were charged with neglect for allowing their two children, ages 10 and 6, to walk home from the park alone. The couple says that they practice “free range” parenting, which allows their children independence such as walking to the park. However, Child Protective Services did not agree with the parents’ assessment that the walk was safe and opened a neglect case against the family. The family was found to be responsible for “unsubstantiated” child neglect in the first case and were investigated a second time, with their children being held for nearly five hours, after they refused to change their parenting structure and continued to allow the children to walk to the park alone. Now, it seems the family has been vindicated, as at least one of the child neglect charges have been dropped.
The Washington Post reports that the Meitivs received a letter in the mail on May 18 that “ruled out” child neglect. The letter came as a welcome surprise, as the last time the Meitivs spoke with CPS, the case was still open. The couple says they feel a huge sense of “relief and vindication” after receiving the letter and note that the ruling only makes sense as there was “never a hint” of neglect within the family.
“It was an enormous relief and vindication. Of course there’s no neglect here. There never was. There was never even a hint of it.”
The Meitiv family says that the letter gave no reason for the sudden change in heart by CPS, but simply noted that neglect was “ruled out.” Despite the ruling for the case mentioned in the letter, the family’s legal battle is not entirely over. A second case was opened against the family when the children were found walking again with adult supervision. However, the Meitiv family says they are confident those charges will be ruled out as well.
“What we’re hoping this means is that they recognize we never should have been on their radar. Nothing we have done should have triggered an investigation. The facts of the two are the same. They’re the same kids, we’re the same parents. They were walking in the same neighborhood… Neither case is neglect so we’re hopeful that CPS will just see that and move on.”
Though this is a victory for Danielle and Alexander Meitiv, since the letter does not give an explanation as to why neglect was ruled out, free range parents may still find themselves in hot water with the CPS for roaming children. Danielle says she is providing this information to the public in hopes that it will remove some of the fear in the free range parenting movement and among parents who want to let their children venture outdoors and to combat the “helicopter parent” mentality.
What do you think about CPS ruling out child neglect in the Meitiv case? Should children be able to walk alone to locations they are familiar with without adult supervision?
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