Sometimes, when a government agency does something so ludicrous, and so invasive, it is only the media storm and public outcry that forces the hand of change. Which is why, when the the two Meitiv children, aged 10 and 6, were taken by police and held for hours simply because they walked home unattended from a nearby park, the Maryland Government was forced to clarify their policies on unattended children.
Maryland officials have gone on record saying that the state’s policy authorized authorities to investigate unattended children only when they are harmed or are faced with substantial risk of harm. A six page memorandum was released, explaining exactly when CPS should be contacted, and when police can use their own discretion.
According to the memo, “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.”
Danielle Meitiv, the mother of the two children who gained national notoriety after she was twice charged with neglect for allowing her two children to walk home from the park unattended, says this is an important first step. But that is a carefully worded sentence. First step. Meaning that there is still a long way to go. And she is correct.
One of the areas in which Meitiv says that the state’s new policy just doesn’t cut it, is with regard to CPS. Although Maryland police are now not required to contact CPS if they don’t feel that the child is at risk of harm, the memo did not address the issue of CPS being required to contact parents if a case is opened.
According to Danielle Meitiv, “Obviously CPS has an important role to play into protecting children. That role should not supercede the parents’ rights and responsibilities to take care of their kids, because frankly I think the overwhelming majority of parents have their children’s best interests in mind.”
We can only hope that the momentum will continue with regard to this issue, around the country and right here in Michigan. Because as we all know, this is certainly not the only instance in which CPS has overstepped the bounds of basic human decency, and tried to dictate how parents around the country should care for their children.