Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Unattended children

See:   http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2015/04/seven_reasons_parents_have_bec.html


  1. "The huge question for the Meitivs is, are they going to fight for their "free range" principles against Maryland's Child Protective Services, and risk losing their children, or are they going to 'supervise' their children more than they believe is necessary, and hold their fight until their children are older?

    I'm sure it's maddening to the Meitivs, who are highly educated, thoughtful professionals -- he's a theoretical physicist at the National Institute of Health and she is a freelance climate change science consultant -- and believe they are good parents."

    See: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bonnie-fuller/free-range-parents-danielle-and-alexander-meitiv-need-to-stop-fighting-and-put-kids-safety-first_b_7058238.html

    "These days, government treats unaccompanied pre-teens like re-enactments of the Charles Lindbergh Jr. kidnapping — and their parents like Bruno Richard Hauptmann, executed in 1936 for that abduction and murder."

    See: http://muscatinejournal.com/news/opinion/columns/the-kids-are-alright-it-s-the-cops-and-bureaucrats/article_8d36dc1a-6297-50a9-a8d5-c99b89a66947.html

  2. Stunning surveillance video from Sprague, Washington shows an alleged child abductor running down the street with a 22-month-old boy in his arms.

    The Lincoln County Sheriff's Office says a group of three siblings were playing in a park unsupervised when the man grabbed the boy from a stroller.

    The surveillance video shows the toddler's sister and brother running after the man screaming for help.

    Witnesses who saw it happen gave chase, and the man eventually dropped the boy and ran off. He's still on the loose. Deputies hope the video will help identify him.

    See: http://abc11.com/news/must-see-videos-child-abduction-caught-on-camera/551962/

  3. "'I’m not afraid of strangers doing harm to kids,' he wrote in a blog. 'I’m much more afraid of other parents calling the police or child services on me … merely for having kids that are more capable and independent than theirs.'"


    "Forcibly detaining elementary school-aged kids for walking by themselves in a safe, middle-class neighborhood doesn’t even come close to meeting the necessary standard. Statistically, such walking is extremely safe, and probably less dangerous than police officers’ actions in forcibly detaining the children and driving them to a CPS office."


  4. "It’s easy to understand the perks for a parent in this sort of arrangement. What’s harder to grasp is why the kids haven’t gone limp, dropped to the bottom and squirmed out for some me-time. Don’t they want to be free?

    Many modern parents are best friends with their 10-year-olds. They do everything together. They finish each other’s sentences. In contrast, we heard from our parents at dinnertime when they whistled for us like dogs. Our mutual preference was for solo or peer-shared experiences."


    Forget about the free-range kids. Children in America still aren’t safe enough.
    Crime, traffic and parental neglect are serious dangers for too many kids.


  5. Let 'free range' kids roam home: Our view


  6. "The FBI has several decades of data on missing persons now, and those numbers show that the number of missing person reports involving minors has been at record low levels in recent years. Overall, the number of these reports have fallen by 40 percent since 1997. This is more impressive when you consider that the overall U.S. population has risen by 30 percent over that same time period, meaning that the actual rate of missing person reports for children has fallen faster than 40 percent.

    And of those 'missing persons' (both adults and children) he adds, 96 percent were runaways. Just .1 percent were victims of kidnapping.

    Of course, people who are determined to be afraid will still usually default to this: 'Well, even if the chance is 1 in [insert absurdly huge number here], it doesn’t matter if it’s YOUR kid.'"

  7. The omitted link for the April 29, 2015, entry is: http://reason.com/blog/2015/04/28/why-we-dont-need-helicopter-parenting-ou

    Asked about the Meitiv's case, Caplan said, "it's crazy, people are being persecuted for doing things that are extremely statistically safe just because other people disagree."

    Bottom line: If it was safe enough for you to play unsupervised outside when you were a kid, it's even safer for your own children to do so today.

    See: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/04/14/theres-never-been-a-safer-time-to-be-a-kid-in-america/

    Also: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/montgomery-county-neglect-inquiry-shines-spotlight-on-free-range-parenting/2015/01/17/352d4b30-9d99-11e4-bcfb-059ec7a93ddc_story.html

  8. A Maryland couple who were investigated for neglect after letting their two young children walk home alone from local parks have been cleared in one of two such cases.

    The Washington Post reported Tuesday that Child Protective Services has ruled out neglect in the case against Danielle and Alexander Meitiv for allowing their children, ages 10 and 6, to walk about a mile home in December.


  9. Officials in Maryland are taking steps to illuminate their views on children walking or playing alone and have issued a new policy directive that says Child Protective Services shouldn't get involved unless kids have been harmed or are at risk of harm...

    "We are not getting into the business of opining on parenting practices or child-rearing philosophies," Katherine Morris, spokeswoman for the Maryland Department of Human resources told the Post. "We don't view that as our role. We see our role as responding when a child is harmed or at a significant risk of harm. It's all about child safety."...

    The document specifically touches on the Meitiv case, stating: "Children 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."

    The document lists some of the factors that CPS considers, including the nature of any injury, any parental actions taken to minimize risks, the age of a child, and the period of time and the setting involved.

    On Thursday, Danielle Meitiv said that the state's move sounds like a step in the right direction, but it doesn't go far enough.

    "I'm glad they're clarifying it, but it still doesn't give reassurance to parents that their desire to give their children freedom will be respected," she said. The Meitivs say they intend to file a lawsuit.

    Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/news/odd+news/md-officials-set-new-guidelines-after-free-range-case/article/435687#ixzz3d4AKx7Td

  10. That's good news to journalist Lenore Skenazy, founder of the free-range kids movement that was born several years ago when she wrote a column about letting her 9-year-old son ride the subway alone in New York, where she lives.

    "Two days later I found myself decried as 'America's worst mom' on the 'Today' show, MSNBC, Fox News and NPR," she wrote in a column earlier this year. Skenazy has written a book, "Free-Range Kids," and hosts a reality show, "World's Worst Mom."

    On Friday I called Skenazy, and found her busy defending herself from charges that she made up a nightmare scenario faced by free-range parents in Florida. Her viewpoint on kids has made her a lightning rod.

    "I just don't think kids need a security detail every time they leave the home," she told me. "It all boils down to us being in total fear. By the marketplace that would like to sell us stuff. By the media that would like us to keep watching so it knows that the best story to tell us is a scary story. By the experts who want to tell us that if we don't follow their advice, something terrible will happen."

    Her website includes this colorful mission statement: "Fighting the belief that our children are in constant danger from creeps, kidnapping, germs, grades, flashers, frustration, failure, baby snatchers, bugs, bullies, men, sleepovers and/or the perils of a nonorganic grape."

    Crime in America is down from its peak levels 25 to 30 years ago, Skenazy said. And childhood abductions by strangers are rare enough that we can name the victims.

    People get stuck in what Skenazy likes to call worst-first or tragical thinking. "So it's like, yeah, you can let your kid be one aisle away from you at the store, but what about Adam Walsh?"

    See: http://www.jsonline.com/news/education/free-range-kids-used-to-be-the-neighborhood-norm-b99518734z1-307266331.html

  11. A mother has spoken out after her 11-year-old son was taken away by social services when he was spotted playing basketball on his own driveway

    A mother has made headlines after sending a letter to Free Range Kids, where she explained that her 11-year-old son had arrived home before her and didn’t have his own key.

    While he waited for his mum to get back, he played basketball in his driveway - where he was spotted by a concerned neighbour, who called the police.

    When the boy’s mum and dad got home, they were arrested for felony child neglect and fingerprinted, strip searched and held in a Florida jail cell overnight.

    Social services placed the boy and his brother in foster care.

    “My son was in his own yard playing basketball, not in the street or at the park"

    The mother explained: “On this particular day, a little more than a month ago, both dad and I were running late due to bad traffic and rain...

    At a court hearing a month later, in which the 11-year-old “begged” to be allowed to return home to his parents, the parents were reunited with their children.

    However they will still have to appear in criminal court and plead “not guilty” to charges of child neglect, as well as attend parenting classes and therapy.

    The 11-year-old boy is required to attend a day camp this summer and his younger brother must go to a day care facility.


  12. Charges against Maryland parents who allowed their children to walk home from a park alone have been dropped by Child Protective Services.

    It is the second neglect case filed against Jewish Silver Spring residents Danielle and Alexander Meitiv, who are known as “free-range” parents for their style of parenting, which believes in giving children more freedom to make choices without parents hovering nearby. The charges were dropped earlier this month, the Meitivs told local media on Tuesday.

    The couple’s children, ages 10 and 6, were picked up in April by police a few blocks from their Silver Spring home. They were walking home from playing in a local park and taken to Child Protective Services, where they were held for several hours and not permitted to call their parents.

    In December, the Meitivs were slapped with neglect charges when police found their children alone in a park near their home. Those charges also were dropped.

    Danielle Meitiv told the Washington Post she is concerned about how Child Protective Services will deal with the family 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.


  13. But Nicole Jensen says that her parenting style is not even “free range,” yet police snatched her daughter, Brooklynn, from a park that’s roughly the length of a football field away from their house.

    Now, Jensen says, she has to answer her daughter’s questions about why the police took her and held at her the police station in this small, southern Maine city of about 18,000 — while fighting the charge that police have leveled at her, a charge of endangering the welfare of a child.

    “She was terrified,” Jensen told TV station WMTW. “They brought her to the police station when her house is right there… She did nothing wrong. She’s followed all of my rules.”

    Police say their officers received a 911 call about a child left alone in the public park, playing by herself. When they got there, they found that Brooklynn had been by herself for about an hour.

    “That’s a long time for a 7-year-old girl to be by herself in any location, let alone a public park,” Westbrook Police Chief Janine Roberts said.

    But Jensen protested that her daughter was never really alone — that she requires the child to check in with her every hour, plus, she has a clear view of the public park from her own back porch.

    On top of those measures, the mom says, parents in the neighborhood have all agreed to look after each other’s children when they play outdoors in the park.

    Read more at http://www.inquisitr.com/2213946/nicole-jensen-mom-cited-for-endangering-child-after-police-terrify-her-7-year-old-whos-right/#8YO5d0eMO2HMfX0d.99

  14. What does this have to do with Free-Range Kids? Everything. The whole premise of this movement is that our children are not in constant danger—not from kidnapping, not from un-fingerprinted school volunteers on a field trip, not from crayons (this week’s New Fear), and not from parents at their wits’ end...

    As a society, we sometimes seem determined to imagine anyone having anything to do with kids—including their own parents—as monsters. This is what happened to the Meitivs in Maryland: The parenting decisions they made out of love and rationality were interpreted as harmful. The real monsters today are the ones who see “child abuse” even when staring at kind, compassionate adults.


  15. Lenore Skenazy, the self-dubbed "World's Worst Mom," has taken the world of parenting by force with her strong views of free-range parenting.

    Skenazy's personal blog Free-Range Kids is a resource for parents on "how to raise safe, self-reliant children (without going nuts with worry)," defining that parenting approach perceived by many as somewhat negligent.

    "Fighting the belief that our children are in constant danger from creeps, kidnapping, germs, grades, flashers, frustration, failure, baby snatchers, bugs, bullies, men, sleepovers and/or the perils of a non-organic grape," reads the tagline of the blog, a motto for the parents fighting the confines of more restrictive parenting styles.

    There are good sides to free-range parenting, says Camarata, as children are given the freedom to go out and explore the world themselves. However, "leaving children unsupervised in today's world is a frightening thought," he said.

    Read more at http://national.deseretnews.com/article/5677/Intuition-The-sweet-spot-between-helicopter-and-free-range-parenting.html#t3QmFyZk7upLFbQS.99

  16. Submitted July 28,2015. Format revised September 17, 2015.
    Growing up in a city of 20,000 in the 1970s and ’80s, I had the unique experience of being raised in the lone apartment in a four-story office building on a busy downtown street. From age 4 to 10, my playground was a concrete jungle where I and my best friend, who lived behind her family’s business, mingled with merchants and restaurateurs on a daily basis. We would play make-believe in city alleys, disappearing for hours, our parents enabling and trusting us to make age-appropriate decisions that ultimately instilled a level of confidence and awareness that has stayed with me today.

    My husband shares similar stories of how he left home after breakfast, popped home for a sandwich midday and then stayed out until supper, socializing outdoors, even on railroad tracks, all summer long.

    When I look back at the freedom we were afforded, I can’t imagine how those independent experiences would translate in today’s safeguarded American society...

    “In Europe, there is more emphasis on personal responsibility,” said the eldest daughter, Catherine. “It’s less confining.” She used the analogy that in the States you might sign your life away to partake in a water balloon fight, whereas in Europe there’s no liability to sled down a mountain for 2 kilometers. Children as young as 8 are often seen taking public transportation on their own or with friends. There’s a level of respect for and trust in children...

    They, too, said their French- and Czech-raised children would walk freely through town and take public transportation to elementary school unsupervised. They also said the children might go to a friend’s for lunch or a play date and linger instead of rushing off to the next activity. Families there are less overbooked compared to their very scheduled American counterparts...

    Field trips from school might only require one parent in Europe, and it’s not uncommon for a group of teenagers to navigate themselves long distances for a school trip out of town. A British mum of three explained that with the extensive network of transportation, children get exposure and a sense of geography outside their home countries. Foreign exchanges are common, and after it’s over the friends often visit one another, necessitating traveling alone...

    While the methods of raising foreign children may seem foreign to us here, I do think the values they instill promote problem solving, independent thinking and confidence — and that’s a great foundation for a well-rounded young person.