‘Unsubstantiated’ child neglect finding for ‘free-range’ parents

Georgia Avenue in Silver Spring

The Maryland parents investigated for letting their young children walk home by themselves from a park were found responsible for “unsubstantiated” child neglect in a decision that has not fully resolved their clash with authorities over questions of parenting and children’s safety.

Danielle and Alexander Meitiv hoped the nationally debated case — which has lit up social media and brought a dozen television film crews to their Silver Spring home — would be dismissed after a two-month investigation by Montgomery County Child Protective Services.

But the finding of unsubstantiated child neglect means CPS will keep a file on the family for at least five years and leaves open the question of what would happen if the Meitiv children get reported again for walking without adult supervision.

The parents say they will continue to allow their son, Rafi, 10, and daughter Dvora, 6, to play or walk together, and won’t be swayed by the CPS finding.

“We don’t feel it was appropriate for an investigation to start, much less conclude that we are responsible for some form of child neglect,” said Danielle Meitiv, who said she and her husband plan to appeal and worry about being investigated again by CPS…


It is hard for me to evaluate this since I am not familiar with the neighbourhood that the children were walking in. Certainly, when I was 10 and lived in Quesnel, BC, the walk to school was considered perfectly reasonable. But it was a small town in the early 1960’s. Most of the side roads were not even paved.

And even so, my mother had already given both of us girls a scary talk about ‘bad men’ and how they might try to trick you into going with them.

h/t Chicago Boyz

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  • PoliWach

    My children are grown adults now with children of their own. I can’t imagine myself EVER taking a chance with their well being. Many of today’s young parents would rather rebel against society’s established guidelines than do everything in their power to keep their children safe. Who, in their right mind gambles on the safety of their kids?

  • Alain

    Frau, I totally agree that it all depends on the context or situation, which means their neighbourhood. My children walked to and from elementary school unless there was a cougar alert which usually happened once a year. Due to the distance they took the school bus to secondary school. That said things would have been totally different had we lived in some other areas where people are more dangerous than wild animals.

    • Frau Katze

      Yes, there are areas with wild animal danger and others with wild people danger.

      • I lived and worked in Quesnel BC for a few months in the early 1970’s!

        • Frau Katze

          I was wondering if any other readers lived there. We returned to Vancouver in 1965. But I have fond memories of small town life in Quesnel.

  • We had no such concerns when I was in elementary school, ours was a safe hood however, free of the vibrancy one encounters today.

  • dukestreet

    When I was 8 and my sister 6, we traveled every 2nd Saturday alone on the subway in Toronto. Walking together from our home to the station and taking the train to the ROM for the ROM’s Science Club. My sister for the geology and fossil group and me for reptiles and amphibians. We were told to go to the driver’s car and sit as close as possible to him. We used to have great conversations with the driver and never had problems. I think the tendency to wrap children in “bubble wrap” and prevent them from learning to cope with every day life, as they show themselves to be ready, is doing our kids a great disservice. How can we expect them to learn to live on their own if we constantly keep them on a tight leash.

    it’s important to teach them how to be aware of danger & how to get out of it, before doing these things. I remember that every major step, required that we pass a test of our knowledge and skill. We could not do or go, on until we passed the test and my parents had no problem failing us and refusing if it was warranted.

    • Exile1981

      I would also say the actual abduction rates where much lower when I was a kid in the 70’s than it is now.

      • dukestreet

        That may be true, but then again maybe not. I remember at least 5 attempts to abduct me. Most occurred walking on Yonge St. between Eglinton and Davisville, but, one was on the street 2 doors from my home. An older neighbourhood kid grabbed me before the guy could get me to his car.

        When I was followed, or an attempt was made, I did what I’d been taught. Change direction, run to the nearest store or house and tell them what was happening. I was never actually abducted because I knew what to do and did it whenever I felt unsafe.
        These days, I’d never let a kid go alone, as we did then. At least 2 or 3 kids together. It also would depend on the area.

  • Exile1981

    Silver Spring is an unincorporated area and census-designated place (CDP) in Montgomery County, Maryland,
    United States. It had a population of 76,716 according to 2013
    estimates by the United States Census Bureau, making it the fourth most
    populous place in Maryland, after Baltimore, Columbia, and Germantown.[2]
    The urbanized, oldest, and southernmost part of Silver Spring is a major business hub that lies at the north apex of Washington, D.C.
    _____________________________________

    Given that it is a suburb of DC I personally wouldn’t want my kids anywhere near there and given DC crime rates I would have been unlikely to allow a 10 and 6 year old to walk through a business district.

    • Frau Katze

      I’d be more worried by the “diversity” than anything else.

  • bob e

    i understand there is a wonderful & diverse hispanolo gang
    culture doting here & n virginia ..

  • I walked to and fro with my siblings. Why can’t children do that now?

    There would have to be extreme circumstances NOT to walk to school or any short distance in numbers.

    • Clinton

      Interestingly enough, the Montgomery County School District’s
      guidelines for who is eligible to ride the school bus state that
      elementary school children who live 1 mile for less from school are
      ordinarily ineligible for bus transportation i.e., they are expected
      to walk to and from school. The Meitiv’s children were walking
      home from a park 1 mile from their house. Is CPS going to pay
      the Montgomery County School District a visit for suspected
      child endangerment?

  • Ken Kimberley

    I grew up in Winnipeg. When I was 8 (back in the 50s) I had to go to a building on Rupert Avenue, just off Main Street for music lessons on Friday evenings. Following the music lessons I had to walk back to Main Street (stepping over the drunks passed out on the sidewalk) where I would catch a bus for the 3/4 hour ride home. I was never accosted – well just by the drunks for change – and no one thought there was any problem with an 8 year old going that kind of distance on their own, into a rather unsavoury part of the city.

    I don’t think that society has really changed all that much in the intervening years, except for people feeling much more afraid today than we did back then.

  • Charlotta Jones

    If I were the Meitivs, I would NOT taunt child services–their kids will be taken away. I’ would rather move away.

    • To another place where something similar can happen?

      The rot is in society.