I have a firm belief that the entity known as Child Protective Services is nothing more than a government funded bully organization that poses a false front in order to infiltrate families and divide them for financial gain. But this post is not about them. This post about when we as a society need to step back and allow parents to parent. It is one thing to voice your opinion about a particular parenting style, but it’s a whole different monster when you’re invading their homes and forcing them to illegally sign documentation that forces them to follow your advice.
Protecting children is more than being aware of a child that’s possibly in harm’s way. It’s also about understanding cultural diversity and respecting the boundaries of individual parenting styles. When we see something that could possibly endanger a child as a society we have to speak up. While we can’t control the discipline techniques of parents, we can make alternative suggestions at appropriate times. The situation in Maryland is tricky because while I don’t agree with the practice of the Meitiv’s, I will jump to defend their situation because of my firm belief that parenting techniques are unique to the individual family unit and because of the individuality of the children cannot be universal. Meaning one parenting style doesn’t fit all. Every mother and father should be allowed to raise their children in a manner that is comfortable for them and their children unless this practice places the child in immediate danger.
In this particular situation many parents are saying that the Meitiv’s are placing their children in immediate danger by allowing them to walk around town unsupervised. But are they really? It all boils down to the terminology of immediate danger and possible danger. Most parents take the extra step to prevent terrible things from happening to their children. An example would be rather than just teaching our children to look both ways before crossing the street; we hold their hands and cross the street with them. Delving into this topic will take us down a hundred different side streets, but to stay focused on the main topic the Meitiv’s only placed their children in possible danger by allowing them to walk around unsupervised. Not immediate danger. After all, the police intervened twice; no harm came to the children, and there’s no telling how many times the children have done this in the past with no complications.
I can understand the innocent value they were trying to instill in their kids by giving them this autonomous freedom. It would be a beautiful thing if they have raised perfect geniuses with this technique but I can’t seem to overlook the fact that they sent these children out into the world with a false sense of security and no contingency plan if something went wrong. I’m not saying that something will go wrong, but proactivity saves lives. Why didn’t the 10 year old have a cell phone? Why had the children not been advised as to what to do if approached by the police a second time?
After this second incident the world is saying, “Two blocks isn’t a mile Mrs. Meitiv’s but that’s still two blocks unattended.” and, “Although the son is older, what if someone tried to take his little sister? He wouldn’t be able to fend them off and then he’d be scarred for life because he couldn’t save her.” Yes. The Meitiv’s put their children in “possible danger” and these are just some of the possibilities that may not have been thought through before sending their children out into the city. Not the country side. Not the suburbs. The city.
Lenora Skenazy, author and blogger believes that the instances of these possibilities happen less than we are led by mass media to believe, and as a result our fear of these possibilities have become irrational. I can agree with her about that. I live in a relatively safe neighborhood and finally after four months I let my seven year old and her six year old sister ride their bikes to a friend’s house one block over. However, before this big step, the anxiety I experienced when I would perform my 15 minute visual check and couldn’t see them near the yard must have aged me 10 years. Skenazy claimed in an interview for reason.tv that the crime rate today is comparable to the crime rate in 1963, and it makes me wonder where she lives. Children are dying every day on streets of Chicago, but the media is not reporting that. While I support the idea of Free Range Kids, the concept has to be practiced in conjunction with common sense. What if one of the Meitiv’s children was hit by a car? The other child would have to spring into action to find their parents and be at the mercy of the strangers around them. I allow my kids to ride their bike to their friend’s. But I have that friends name and parental information and they have mine. I grew up Free Range, but someone always knew where I was, and they always knew how to contact my mother. This doesn’t work well in today’s society because other people children are seen as “not other people’s problem”. So rather than invest a few moments in a child’s life to ensure that they are ok, they’d rather call the authorities and put into motion the highest form of legal protocol that could possible destroy that child’s life. But the media doesn’t’ push the pure fact of that possibility either. It’s not a crime to subject your children to these possibilities. The Meitiv’s have a legal leg to stand on there. But it should be a crime to send your children out into the world without the proper preparations and information. I’m not here to convict them of any crime, I just want to be real and let them know that they’re playing with fire. And I’m not trying to tell them to teach their children to be afraid of the world around them. Just teach them to be aware. There are ways to promote autonomy in your children that would prepare them for apocalyptic events but at the same time wouldn’t put them at “possible” risk for harm.
My advice for this family would be to continue with their beliefs but while in the Matrix, follow the Matrix rules. This second offense is only going to show them as being defiant. Fighting Child Protective Services is like a David and Goliath battle. If you’re bold enough and you feel strong enough to fight them, fight them. Just know that as a government entity they are a force to be reckoned with. Unless your child dies in their custody, your case is pretty much blown off. Even when they are wrong they will use the excuse that just allowing the possibility of something going wrong to arise makes you guilty of neglect. If they want to charge with child abuse because your child choked on a hot dog that you didn’t cut up, they can. And they will most likely win. Why? Because children are involved and judges always err on the side of the child. The Meitiv’s stance for freedom is valiant, but most likely in vain, and in the end the children will pay the price.