Although not my particular favorite parenting style, a new "free range" parenting philosophy has been running into trouble with "Child Protective" "Services" in recent years. Today we examine the most famous such case, and delve into the implications of the outcomes for the future of parental rights v.v. a rapacious would-be nanny state.
Here is a link that describes the original run-in that the "free range" Meitiv family of Maryland had that started the whole now-famous saga:
Here is the key excerpt:
"This past Saturday, while I was out of town, my husband dropped my kids off at a park about 1 mile from our house and said they could walk home together. They got 1/2 way when someone called the police. The kids were picked up in a patrol car and brought home. The policewoman asked to see my husband's ID. When he refused, she said she was going to call for back-up. He said he would get his ID and went to go upstairs. She said - in front of the kids - that if he came down with anything else, 'shots would be fired.'
At this point 10 yr old. called me crying, saying that the police were there and that Daddy was going to be arrested. My husband stepped outside to continue the conversation away from the kids. When he disagreed with one of the officers about the dangers that walking alone posed to the kids, she actually asked him: "Don't you watch TV?" (The answer was no). They took notes and left.
Two hours later someone from Child Welfare showed up with a temporary plan, which they wanted my husband to sign, stating that he would not leave the children unsupervised until Monday when someone from their office could contact him. He refused. She called the police, saying that if he didn't sign they would take the kids away right then. He signed."
(Image courtesy of imom.com.)
There are so many things wrong with this that it's tough to know where to begin. For starters, obviously someone had it out for this couple. If CPS was required BY LAW to present the accused (as required by the Constitution) with their accuser, the case probably would have ended before it started. Silver Spring is not a small town, but it is not downtown Baltimore either. The excerpt above refers to the second contact in a few days over the parents letting their children walk about (ages 10 and 6) unsupervised. Someone obviously knew about the first dispute, and was keeping an eye on the kids for the next time they were out alone.
Yesterday, I covered the "initial contact/CPS referral" debate and the various improvements that might/could be made to the initial filtering of a call. Ironically, I suggested that these calls be referred, first, to the police who would then determine if laws were broken, and only call CPS after doing their professional "thing," While I still believe that this would be a good reform, the Meitiv's obviously ran into a power-hungry cop who had never been properly trained in the Constitution and the rights of citizens under the Fourth Amendment prohibitions against unreasonable search and seizure. If this cop had any common sense, the kids would have been dropped off, she would have asked the parent to be more careful where they let the kids walk alone, not insisted on I.D., and drove to get a donut or maybe even to handle a real crime.
(Image courtesy of babble.com.)
The third element here is this "temporary plan" nonsense. This sure sounds to me like the bogus "safety plan" concept that has become a problem in many CPS jurisdictions where the agency knows they probably can't get a court order, and think they can somehow intervene in families without proper judicial process...(They can't.) Thankfully, the light has been shining on that illegal sham since even before the Meitiv's run-ins with CPS, and that "tool" is being increasingly scrutinized and proscribed by the courts.
(Images courtesy of mommyish.com.)
Here is an article that covers the "rest of the (Meitiv) story:"
And an excerpt:
"'I’m just relieved to have these cases closed,' she said. 'There’s more to do to make sure this doesn’t happen to other families, but for now we’re breathing easier.' Attorneys for the Meitivs said Monday that the decision affirms what the family has maintained since the beginning: 'They are responsible parents who have never neglected their children.' The Meitivs’ experiences have fueled a national debate about parenting choices and the government’s role in enforcing laws designed to protect children."
(Image courtesy of khq.com.)
As I said, the "free range" philosophy is not my personal choice, and there may be war zones, where I might even agree that it maybe shouldn't be practiced, but when we (apparently already) arrive at the place where the philosophy is widely enough known and understood, there is an absolutely responsibility on the part of LEOs and CPS to respect that and not to over-react. If enough Americans are troubled by it, let them go ahead and try to get laws enacted. But, LEOs and CPS bureaucrats have no business legislating by fear and intimidation.
This is NOT, I repeat...NOT...1930s Germany, or the 1960s Soviet Union.
Got it, CPS??
(Image courtesy of whatsupfagan.com.)
Here is another excerpt from that second link:
"'A child playing outside or walking unsupervised does not meet the criteria for a CPS response absent specific information supporting the conclusion that the child has been harmed or is at substantial risk of harm if they continue to be unsupervised,' she wrote.
Danielle Meitiv said that although the family is pleased the neglect investigation is over, she and her husband still feel some uncertainty about the approach CPS will take in the future. 'I feel like we won’t know for sure if real progress has been made until our kids go for a walk and come home safely without being bothered,' she said."
Indeed, but that strikes me as as much a neighbor harassment issue as a CPS mal-enforcement problem. In addition to changing the vetting procedures for these calls, we definitely need to look at increasing criminal penalties for malicious, revenge, or busy-body reporting.
OR...we could just shut down CPS altogether and do real child protection the way we did for hundreds of years here in North America.
Yea..that sounds good.
Let's do that!