Maryland couple catch heat for letting children walk alone in neighborhood
(WUSA9.COM) SILVER SPRINGS, Md. – A Montgomery County couple says it’s surreal that they’re being investigated for child neglect for letting their kids roam freely.
In many ways, the Meitiv family is very traditional. They eat dinner together every night, their kids have fixed bedtimes, do chores and have limits on their sweets and screen time. But the parents are under investigation because they let their kids walk around the neighborhood together, unaccompanied by an adult.
The Meitivs says the investigation is an invasion of their privacy and infringes on their rights as parents.
“I grew up in New York City in the 70s and nobody hesitated to let their kids walk around. The only thing that’s changed between then and now is our fear,” said mother Danielle Meitiv.
Ten year-old Rafi and six-year-old Dvora Meitiv are allowed by their parents to walk around their Silver Spring neighborhood together, but unaccompanied by an adult.
“They’re very proud of their independence. They understand that they need to hold hands when they cross the street, they need to look both ways, make sure the light is with them,” Danielle said.
But during recent walks from two local playgrounds, one two blocks from home, the other a mile, separate callers alerted police and Child Protective Services.
“They came and they interviewed kids at school without our permission or knowledge. And when they were talking to them, they were painting a picture of a world that is very scary,” said the children’s father, Sasha Meitiv.
Danielle and Sasha Meitiv now say their parenting style is under assault. Police and Child Protective Services have come to their home and questioned their children at their elementary school.
“They were asking my son Rafi what he would do if he was grabbed by a stranger. Telling them, you know there are creeps out there that are just waiting to grab children if they’re walking by themselves,” Sasha said.
Child Protective Services could not address this specific case but did point to Maryland law, which defines child neglect as a failure to provide proper care and supervision of a child. This week, a CPS worker came to the Meitiv’s home with a safety plan.
“When I said that I couldn’t sign the illegal paperwork before our attorney looked at it, she said if you don’t sign, we will take your kids right away and she called the police,” Sasha said.
State law prohibits children under the age of eight from being unattended in a dwelling or car, but makes no reference to the outdoors. A person must be at least 13-years-old to supervise a child under eight.