Free range kids

Silver Spring Parents Under Investigation for Letting Their Kids Walk Home (VIDEO)

UPDATE Danielle and Alexander Meitiv let their kids, ages 6 and 10, walk unaccompanied a mile from a playground to the family’s Silver Spring home.

Now, the parents are being investigated by Montgomery County Child Protective Services (CPS) for child neglect after two separate callers, one in October and another in November, alerted law enforcement officials.

The Meitivs met with CPS officials on Monday, Jan. 26. Danielle said the meeting was “frustratingly inconclusive. The case worker outlined CPS’ policies and procedures for us and that was about it. We don’t think anything bad will happen but we didn’t get the closure we were hoping for.”

Danielle added that CPS officials did confirm they are using Maryland law as a guide.

“Even though it clearly refers to children locked or confined indoors. And they would not say for sure that we would be investigated again if another call came in about our kids, but they did say that they would follow the same procedure,” she said.

CPS officials visited the Meitiv’s home twice. The first was when mother Danielle picked up the kids from school and dropped them off at a park between the bus stop and their family’s house.

“They came home and absolutely nothing happened. It was a normal day. Just like every other time they’ve done that,” Danielle said.

A few days later, they got a visit from CPS officials who told Danielle she could not leave her children unsupervised. However, she said CPS officials dismissed that case.

On December, on the way back from a nearby synagogue, Alexander, the children’s father, dropped them off at Woodside Park on the corner of Spring Street and Georgia Avenue. Danielle was in New York.

“They had been asking to have this privilege to walk from that particular park for quite some time. First we said no. A number of times. And now we felt like they were really ready,” she explained.

According to Danielle, the children got picked up by Montgomery County police officers when they were halfway home near the Discovery Building.

“They brought them home. The police demanded ID from my husband and it wasn’t clear to him ‘why are you coming to my door and asking for my ID.’ So it was a little bit tense there,” she said.

Then, a few hours later, according to Danielle, CPS officials showed up with a temporary safety plan and said “If you don’t sign this plan, we’re gonna take your kids.”

Mary Anderson, a spokeswoman for CPS, said she could not comment on the case but added that their role is to follow up on any and all complaints that come from the Child Protective Service hotline.

In an email to MyMCMedia, Anderson sent information about Maryland Family Law 5-801, which states that 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 and the dwelling, building, enclosure, or motor vehicle is out of the sight of the person charged unless the person charged provides a reliable person at least 13 years old to remain with the child to protect the child.

She also shared a guide on “Planning for your Child’s Safety” where parents have access to information before deciding to leave an 8-year old alone for short periods of time.

To Lenore Skenazy, host of “World’s Worst Mom” a Discovery Life Channel show, the problem with modern life is that people have lost perspective and have a “strange notion” that things must be 100-percent safe.

According to Skenazy, she was criticized after she wrote a column in 2008 for letting her 9-year-old son ride the subway alone.

She is now the person behind Free-Range Kids website, a place where she talks about raising “safe, self-reliant children.”

“They could have been in the house and tripped down the stairs … your crime today is not to imagine your child not dead. When you start thinking that way… you won’t be able to let your kid do anything,” Skenazy said.

Aline Barros

About Aline Barros

Aline Barros is a multimedia reporter and community engagement specialist with Montgomery Community Media. She can be reached at and on Twitter at @AlineBarros2.


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