A Maryland couple says they're being investigated for neglect for allowing their two children to walk home from a Montgomery County park by themselves.
Danielle and Alexander Meitiv say the county's Child Protective Services began investigating them after police stopped their 10-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter about halfway through a mile walk home Dec. 20 in Silver Spring.
Police say they stopped the children and drove them home after someone reported seeing them.
The Meitivs say they're responsible parents who are teaching their children self-reliance and responsibility. They say the investigation infringes on their parental rights and invades their privacy. The parenting style has been labeled "free-range."
"What's funny is that we have a name, like there's a movement for what used to be considered completely normal," Danielle Meitiv said. "And that is, kids can be trusted, they can go outside, they can have autonomy, they can find friends down the street to play with and come back when it's dinner time."
Danielle's 10-year-old son Rafi says he enjoys the freedom his parents allow him to have.
"I think it's really fun to be independent and we really are old enough to do it," he said.
Child Protective Services declined to confirm whether they're investigating the Meitivs, but pointed to Maryland law, which defines child neglect as failure to properly care for and supervise a child.
"We're letting these unfound fears shape and actually diminsh our children's childhoods," Danielle Meitiv said.
Critics say what the Meitivs and other parents like them are doing is just plain unsafe.
"Whether you fall on the helicopter, snowplow or free-range end of the spectrum, we have to be aware of the risks," Michele Booth Cole with Safe Shores Advocacy Center said.