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How Is This Not Kidnapping? ‘Free-Range Children’ Picked Up by Cops Again

Photo Credit:  Scott Davidson -  Wikimedia Commons Photo Credit: Scott Davidson - Wikimedia Commons

From WNEW in Washington:

The Montgomery County parents who let their children walk around their Silver Spring neighborhood alone are being investigated again after authorities found the two kids at a park on Sunday.

Police say officers responded to a call to check on children without an adult at a Silver Spring park Sunday afternoon and took the children to Child Protective Services.

Meanwhile, the children’s mother, Danielle Meitiv, says they began searching for her 10-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter, who were expected home at 6 p.m. She says they didn’t learn where the children were until 8 p.m.

The children were eventually returned to their parents, but not until 10:30 p.m. that night. Their mother wrote this on her Facebook page:

The police coerced our children into the back of a patrol car, telling them they would drive them home. They kept the kids trapped there for three hours, without notifying us, before dropping them at the Crisis Center, and holding them there without dinner for another two and a half hours. We finally got home at 11pm and the kids slept in our room because we were all exhausted and terrified.

Despite the fact that violent crime -- including crime against children -- has been declining for decades, hysterical, sensationalized media coverage in the 24-hour news cycle makes it seem like every community is a crime-infested ghetto with hundreds of predators roaming the streets looking for unsupervised children to rape, kidnap, and murder. Parents who reject the false "danger everywhere!" narrative and allow their children to walk down the street or play in the park without a parent hovering nearby are judged as neglectful. What used to be considered normal parenting -- letting kids play outside without supervision -- is now cause for removal of children from the home.

Here's the problem: Parents like the Meitivs, who reject helicopter parenting and allow their children a little more freedom, are taking a different kind of risk. While statistically their children are going to return home from the park unmolested by murderers and rapists, nothing can protect them from the busybodies who call the police to report an unaccompanied child and the resulting interactions with police and county social workers who are going to be looking for reasons to teach these parents a lesson about their "free-range" parenting style.

When we were homeschooling, we were advised to never let the "authorities" into our home without a warrant. If the police or social workers ever showed up at our door (say as the result of a bogus complaint from a busybody neighbor) we should allow them to have a glimpse of the kids so they could see that they were alive and not in any obvious distress, but unless the authorities had a warrant, they should not be permitted to come into our home and should never, ever be allowed to talk to our children. While it may sound a little extreme and possibly paranoid, the advice came at a time when homeschooling was still viewed as a fringe movement and parents were being dragged into court on truancy charges -- or worse -- because they chose to remove their children from public school. Part of the advice was to always be polite and never confrontational. We were warned that county social workers had a great deal of power and could destroy a family that didn't cooperate with their edicts. "You don't want to go there," we were told.

The thought that social workers can pluck a child out of his home for not attending government schools or that police can grab a child off the street for the crime of playing in a park without a parent is truly astounding -- and terrifying. Once a child falls down that rabbit hole of the child welfare system, his life will never be the same. It could be days, weeks -- even months -- before he returns home and in the meantime, he will be subjected to terrifying interviews, rides in police cars, and being moved around from place to place while the authorities investigate every nook and cranny of his parents' lives to determine whether they're more qualified to raise their own child than the state.

Parents need to think long and hard before they challenge government authority with their children. You may be able to hire a good lawyer and prevail in the end -- and you may be absolutely, completely morally right in your parental decisions -- but at what cost? It's a backwards system where the "authorities" have all the power at the front end. The children are held as little hostages until the parents agree to attend state-approved parenting classes or they promise to be helicopter parents who never again let their little darlings out of their sight.

It's an ingenious way to keep you in line, isn't it?