For the crime of allowing their 6- and 10-year-old children to play unsupervised at a neighborhood park, two Maryland parents have been visited by a series of cops and representatives of Child Protective Services (CPS). Officials say the family broke the law, but the statute in question says nothing about whether kids are allowed to visit the local playground on their own.
It reads: "A person who is charged with the care of a child under the age of 8 years may not allow the child to be locked or confined in a dwelling, building, enclosure, or motor vehicle while the person charged is absent…unless the person charged provides a reliable person at least 13 years old to remain with the child to protect the child." As Danielle Meitiv and her husband Alexander correctly informed the authorities, parks and playgrounds are not enclosed spaces, and their kids were neither locked nor confined anywhere.
That does not seem to matter to CPS, which in December threatened to take the children away on the spot unless Alexander signed a "temporary plan" promising not to leave his kids unsupervised until someone from its office could contact him. Then, in January, a CPS worker "went to my children's school and interviewed them without my knowledge or consent," Danielle says. "We are frightened and confused…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."
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Overeager CPS".