Last spring, Alexander and Danielle Meitiv became public faces of the “Free Range Kids” movement when their children were picked up by police in Silver Spring, Maryland, while walking home from a local park.
The sight of a 10-year-old and a 6-year-old unsupervised prompted police to open a child neglect case against the couple. The investigation was dropped in June — but not before the story made national headlines.
A provision inserted into the just-passed federal education bill seeks to put an end to incidents like this, writes Lenore Skenazy in the New York Post. Skenazy, the founder of the Free Range Kids movement and a writer at Reason.com, says cases like the Meitivs’ are more common than you’d think.
The provision from Senator Mike Lee, a Utah Republican, says the law will not “prohibit a child from traveling to and from school on foot, or by car, bus, or bike when … the parents have given permission.”
We asked some attorneys if the new rule was likely to prevent local police departments from coming down on parents who allow their children to do things like walk to school and play unsupervised.
Ohio bike lawyer Steve Magas said he’s seen similar cases, but he’s not sure how often “free range parents” end up in the legal system. In 2011, a Tennessee mom faced neglect charges for letting her kid bike to school. Magas said he’s currently preparing to represent a woman who was threatened with child endangerment charges by the Ohio Highway Patrol for riding her bike with her toddler.