Police alerted about 'free-range' children wandering around Silver Spring after 911 call

A Maryland couple who practices "free-range" parenting is butting heads with authorities once again.

On Sunday, Alexander and Danielle Meitiv's two children, ages 6 and 10, were picked up by Child Protective Services because they were walking alone in their Silver Spring neighborhood.

The couple has received national and local attention for their style of parenting. The Meitivs say they don't want to change their parenting style, but now are once again the subject of a Child Protective Services investigation.

Ten-year-old Raffi, and his 6-year-old sister, Dvora, are known as "free-range kids" and are raised by their parents to be independent.

On Sunday at around 5 p.m., a Silver Spring man walking his dog called 911 because the two children were walking around by themselves unaccompanied. (CLICK HERE to listen to the 911 call)

"They just came and said, ‘Hey, can I pet your dog,' and I said, ‘Yeah,' and they pet it and then they started walking," said the caller.

In the call, there is no mention of a threat to their safety.

"Two kids that are unaccompanied and they have been walking around for probably 20 minutes by themselves," he said in the 911 call.

Despite being blocks away from home and identifying themselves, the children were put in a police car.

"After sitting in the car for about two and a half hours, he said I'm going to bring you home, and instead he brought us to [Child Protective Services]," said Raffi Meitiv.

The children were taken by police there before their parents were allowed to take them home.

The parents said the kids were supposed to be home by 6 p.m., and it wasn't until 8 p.m. when police contacted them.

We asked Montgomery County Police Capt. Paul Starks if the officer followed procedure in this situation.

"He sure did," Starks responded.

Capt. Starks said their officer saw a homeless man "eyeing the children," and while the parents say the kids should have been driven home, the law says that can't happen until Child Protective Services determines that it is safe to return the children to their parents.

Starks said the officer acted out of concern for the safety of the children.

"Not only following protocol, but also alertly seeing there was at least one person that he believed was eyeing them, and that this subject did remain in the area while he was there with the children," he said.

In order for the children to be released to the parents, the parents had to sign a temporary safety plan agreeing they would no longer leave them unattended at least for the time being.

While the couple reached out to FOX 5 Sunday night, when we visited Meitivs' home on Monday, the father said he had been told by his attorneys to stop talking.

It is not known if any new charges will be filed against the free-range parents.

In March, the Meitivs were found responsible for unsubstantiated child neglect for letting the children walk around town together.

The Meitivs' attorney told us on Monday that the couple has done nothing wrong in this case. Their position is the children should have been returned to their home just blocks away from where they were picked up instead of being driven out to the Child Protective Services' office in Rockville nearly 20 minutes away.

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