Free-Range Kids

Child Services Still Hounding Couple Who Let Their Kids Play Outside

The latest from a family threatened by CPS.

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Kid with ram
Francisco Goya

You may recall the story last month of a family threatened by the authorities for letting their kids walk outside. Here's the latest from the mom, Danielle Meitiv, who is hoping the rest of the media takes note. I hope so, too.

Meitiv explains via email:

Dear Reason: On Monday, a Montgomery County child protective services worker went to my children's school and interviewed them without my knowledge or consent. Why?

Because last month we'd let them walk home from the park by themselves. It's a mile away. They are 6 and 10. We live in suburban Maryland. Let me recap the story and then tell you where we're at.

On a Saturday afternoon in December, my husband, Alexander, gave our kids permission to walk home from the local playground. I was out of town at the time. When they'd walked about halfway, a Montgomery County Police patrol car pulled up. A "helpful" neighbor had called 911 to report unaccompanied children walking outside. Our kids were brought home in a police cruiser.

At the door the police officer asked to see my husband's ID, but did not explain why. When he refused, she called for backup.  

A total of six patrol cars showed up.

Alexander then agreed to get his ID and went to go upstairs. The officer said—in front of the kids—that if he came down with anything else, "shots would be fired." She proceeded to follow him upstairs, and when he said she had no right to do so without a warrant, she insisted that she did.

Our 10 yr. old called me crying and saying that the police were there and that Daddy was going to be arrested. Alexander 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 children, she asked him: "Don't you realize how dangerous the world is? Don't you watch TV?"  They took notes and left.

Two hours later a CPS worker arrived with a "temporary safety plan," which she told my husband to sign. It stated that he would not leave the children unsupervised at any time before Monday morning, when someone from their office could contact him. He refused to sign it. She informed him that if he didn't, she would instruct the police to take the children away immediately. He signed.

free-range-kids

We were then contacted by a CPS social worker named W. Don Thorne who made an appointment for us to come to his office on Friday,  Jan. 9. A little while later he called back saying that he needed to come to us, so that he could see our house. We told him we would meet with him at his office, not our home. He said he would speak with his supervisor and call us back.

On Monday, Mr. Thorne showed up at our door unannounced, accompanied by a police officer. He insisted that he had the right to come into our house without a warrant. I said that I was invoking my Fourth Amendment rights against unwarranted search, and would not let him in, but repeated my willingness to go to his office to answer questions. Then I noticed that he had a visitor's sticker from my children's elementary school on his jacket. Had he been to my children's school to interview them?!

He didn't answer that question and they quickly left. I have since learned that he visited my children's school and spoke to my children without my knowledge or consent.

We do not know what actions CPS will take next.

We are frightened and confused. We are good parents, educated professionals, and our children are happy, healthy, well-adjusted, and academically successful.

As difficult as it is for us to believe, all of these events occurred as the result of allowing our children to walk along public streets in the middle of the afternoon without our supervision.

My husband grew up in the former Soviet Union. Now he wonders if we have to just go along with whatever the authorities want us to do. I keep reminding him that we have RIGHTS in this country and that neither the police nor the bureaucrats can arbitrarily dismiss them.

Read more from Reason on the Meitiv family's problems with CPS here.