Silver Spring Group To Host “Take Your Kids to the Park… And Let Them Walk Home by Themselves” Day
A Silver Spring free-range parenting advocacy group is organizing a Day in the Park event where parents can take their children to the park and let them walk home by themselves.
The initiative is part of a national celebration in honor of the Meitiv family- Silver Spring parents Danielle and Alexander Meitiv who made headlines across the country for their free-range parenting style, according to the website Free-Range Kids.
In Maryland, the day is being organized by Empower Kids Maryland and it will take place on May 9 at the Ellsworth Park in downtown Silver Spring.
“It should be normal to see kids by themselves at the park it should not be the exception,” said Russell Max Simon, co-founder of Empower Kids Maryland.
Simon said residents and their children can meet at 10 a.m. where parents can meet each other and children can become friends with other children.
Then parents can go about their day and children can stay playing at the park.
“I think the craziest thing in the world that can possibly happen is that someone will see a bunch of kids playing in the park and call the police,” Simon said.
This type of gathering has been done before, Simon said, and it has been organized by the person behind Free-Range Kids: Lenore Skenazy.
On her website, she wrote:
For the past five years, Free-Range Kids has been sponsoring Take Our Children to the Park…and Leave Them There Day. This year, in honor of the Meitivs of Maryland, we are encouraging kids to walk home on their own — if you feel they are ready — too.
The way the day works is this: At 10 in the morning on Saturday, May 9, we take our kids to the local park (or they go by themselves). That way, with any luck, kids in the neighborhood who might not even know each other — different schools, different grades, different soccer programs — meet! When the adults say goodbye, it’s the kids’ job to come up with something to do. We used to have a name for this activity.
Skenazy also added “Of course, Free-Range Kids doesn’t want any parents getting arrested or even investigated. So if you would like to participate but worry that your local authorities may harass you, please call your local police department and make sure that this is not an actionable offense.”
According to Simon, they do not know how many children will show up but he said Empower Kids Maryland has approximately 600 subscribers. But he added the Meitiv family will not attend this event.
“Ultimately I think it’s going to require changes to a law and then it will prompt CPS [Child Protective Services] to redo their guidelines. … No parents should be investigated for letting their kids play by themselves at the park,” Simon said.
Simon added that close to 1,000 people have signed a petition directed to Maryland’s General Assembly that proposes a change in the law.
Meanwhile during the April 21 live online discussion with County Executive Isiah Leggett, residents submitted questions and comments about a variety of issues going on in the community. One of these questions was about free range parents.
A Silver Spring resident asked Leggett, “What do you plan to do about the department that says “Protecting children is the agency’s number one priority. … Thank you for your attention to this abuse of this family, and threat to all families who believe that openness to experience is the way to teach self-reliance and responsibility.”
“Thank you for your question. It is not the job of government to pick and choose among child-rearing philosophies and practices. We do, however, have an obligation to bend over backwards to protect children from potentially dangerous situations. Bad things can and do happen, even in safe communities such as Montgomery County. This was a case of a “good Samaritan” reporting a case of unaccompanied kids in an urban area, of a police officer making a judgment based on circumstances, and the responsibility of Child Protective Services, mandated under Maryland law, to evaluate the matter. On Sunday, April 12, a concerned citizen made a call to 9-1-1 after seeing two young, unaccompanied children walking through downtown Silver Spring near a parking lot late on a Sunday afternoon and was concerned for their safety. Based on our records they were not at that point playing in a park, as has been reported,” Leggett wrote.
You can read the county executive’s full response here.