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

   By SheSpeaksTeam  Apr 29, 2015

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?

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Sweetpe81689 by Sweetpe81689 | LAKE CHARLES, LA
May 06, 2015

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

csdorsett by csdorsett | COVINGTON, TN
May 06, 2015

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.

Mishell818 by Mishell818 | VAN NUYS, CA
May 04, 2015

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!

gparker8 by gparker8 | PARK FOREST, IL
May 01, 2015

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.

Melissaa456 by Melissaa456 | DAHLONEGA, GA
May 01, 2015

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.

ashlilee by ashlilee | ATLANTA, GA
Apr 29, 2015

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.