SHESPEAKS Your Power to Influence

New 'Unattended Children' Guidelines Released: Is It a Win For Free Range Parents?

New 'Unattended Children' Guidelines Released: Is It a Win For Free Range Parents?

People everywhere have been debating over the efficacy of “free range parenting” since the Meitiv family from Maryland made headlines when their 6 and 10 year old were taken in to custody for five hours and reported to CPS after police found the two children walking home from a nearby park. Now human service officials and local police have made a decision over how to handle “free range kids” in Motgomery County, MD.

The Washington Post reports about the new protocol Montgomery County police are being asked to adhere to when coming across unattended children in the neighborhood. A new memo asks police to basically use their better judgment and decide whether or not neglect is at play. If they deem that the children are not victims of parental neglect they shouldn’t report them to CPS but instead drive them home and notify parents.

Though the new guidelines seem like a win for “free range” parents, the protocol described in the memo was left very much up to the police officer’s discretion. The memo reads, “If the officer does not believe the circumstances constitute neglect, the officer can notify a parent or guardian about the situation. Again, the facts and circumstances of each case would drive the decision-making process and, simply, age is a consideration. A police officer may drive unattended children home or wait for a parent or caretaker to pick the child up.”

The language in the memo remains vague as to when officers should report a possible neglect. Officers are advised to report any neglect calls to CPS, but it is unclear whether a call from a passerby reporting a child walking alone would be enough to constitute a “neglect call”.

What do you think of the new guidelines in Montgomery County when officers interact with unattended children in public?

Do you think young children should be allowed to walk short distances alone in their own neighborhood?
 

Make a Comment

Comment  *
 
 
  • ashlilee By ashlilee
    04.29.15  

    Yes! By all means let a child walk home. If the child isn't frightened, knows where they are, and where they are going then leave it be. I can't imagine having been this restricted when I was a child.

  • Melissaa456 By Melissaa456
    05.01.15  

    Around where I live, children don't walk home. I would not feel comfortable letting my child walk home. I feel that children should always have a adult with them.

  • gparker8 By gparker8
    05.01.15  

    Yes , children should be familiar with their surroundings. My daughter was 4 when she left the yard. She was unfamiliar with our neighborhood and was lost. I was frantic. I started to take her for walks so it wouldn't happen again.

  • Mishell818 By Mishell818
    05.04.15  

    Of course! i feel that with them knowing their routes and sticking to it, whats the problem? To kids, letting them walk home from school or to their friends house instills in them confidence and trust.Like another parent said , children should be familiar with their surroundings . Now if my child wasnt comfortable walking home , i would under no circumstances allow it!

  • csdorsett By csdorsett
    05.06.15  

    Parents and kids know when a neighborhood is safe or not. Common sense should be the benchmark here. Helicopter parents who try to iron out EVERY detail and remove simply every risk from their children's lives are not doing any favors to the child or to society. A child who never has the opportunity to learn and cultivate good judgement will be preyed upon until they do. Teaching a child even to take or avoid risks will make our society stronger in the long term.

  • Sweetpe81689 By Sweetpe81689
    05.06.15  

    Children mature at different ages. I would think that the parents no best and when their kids are mature enough to handle situations.

More stories like this