A Maryland couple that believes in "free-range parenting" said they are being investigated for child neglect after police picked up their children, ages 6 and 10, walking home alone from a park.
The Washington Post reported Thursday that the kids were walking home from the park, which is about a mile from their Woodside Park neighborhood, in broad daylight last month and were stopped by police after someone reported seeing them.
The kids were returned to the home and police reportedly talked to the parents about the dangers of the world.
'We feel we're being bullied into a point of view about child-rearing that we strongly disagree with'
- Alexander Meitiv
Police reportedly did not have information on the case, but told the paper it has a "responsibility as a part of our duty to check on people's welfare."
The parents, Danielle and Alexander Meitiv, said they would not let their son and daughter walk home alone if they didn't think the kids were ready.
"The world is actually even safer than when I was a child, and I just want to give them the same freedom and independence that I had — basically an old-fashioned childhood," Danielle, a climate-science consultant, told the paper. The report said the kids would often carry a laminated card that states "I am not lost. I am a free-range kid."
But the story did not end there. The Montgomery County Child Protective Services reportedly followed up and forced the parents to sign a safety plan acknowledging that they would not let the kids go unsupervised. Alexander told the paper he resisted at first, but CPS threatened that if they refused, the kids would be removed from the home. He signed.
The agency, which does not comment on current investigations, reportedly followed up and began an investigation, requesting to examine the house and even interviewing the children at school.
"We feel we're being bullied into a point of view about child-rearing that we strongly disagree with," Alexander said. The parents say they just want to teach their children to be self-reliant.
"The riskiest thing we can do with our kids is put them in a car," Danielle told "Fox & Friends" on Friday. "We do that because we realize that some risks are worth taking."
The couple plans on meeting with CPS next week.