Lenore Skenazy of Free Range Kids was asked recently why she publicizes the cases of police and CPS overreaching when parents give their children the freedom to go to the park alone, or sit in the car and play a video game while mom's in a store, etc. She replied:
My goal isn’t to scare — I actually wish I could avoid it. My goal is to shock. I’m trying to shock our country into realizing that at least some of those in authority now believe that any child not within an arm’s reach of his parents is in danger. That belief can turn any parents who take their eyes off their kids into criminals.
Skenazy goes on to report some good fallout from the case of the Meitivs, the Maryland couple who were scrutinized by CPS for allowing their kids (10 and 6) to walk home from a park without their parents. Since Skenazy shined her spotlight on the case, and the ensuing publicity...
The underlying premise here is wrong. Our kids are NOT in constant danger. Pointing that out is, in fact, the mission of this blog and movement! As the Washington Post has pointed out: There’s Never Been a Safer Time to be a Kid in America. But until the authorities stop panicking, all parents who let their kids walk, play, or even wait a little while indoors or out, live under the threat of government intervention.
...Maryland’s Child Protective Services department clarified its marching orders, 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.”
There clearly was no "significant risk" in the case of the Meitiv children, or for the thousands of other kids who are allowed to actually go outside and play -- or walk around the mall, or ride public transportation, or do any of the things they should be doing in the actual, non-threatening world we really live in -- without helicopter parents worrying every second that they'll be abducted, killed, or sold into slavery.
Donna St. George, the Washington Post reporter broke the story of these changes, interviewed a Maryland CPS spokeswoman who told her, ” We are not getting in the business of opining on parenting practices or child-rearing philosophies….We see our role as responding when a child is harmed or at a significant risk of harm.”
Kudos to Skenazy for her continuing work.
Previously on Harris Online...