outside-playThe story is pretty much the same as before: you have children that are placed in a situation which many people would consider less than ideal, a situation which–as it turns out–the children’s parents both knew about and were accepting of, and then

The Silver Spring siblings were about 2 1/2 blocks from their home Sunday when Montgomery County police got a call reporting them — gasp — playing alone.

“The police coerced our children into the back of a patrol car and kept them trapped there for three hours, without notifying us, before bringing them to the Crisis Center, and holding them there without dinner for another two and a half hours,” their mom, Danielle Meitiv, said to her Facebook friends. “We finally got home at 11 pm and the kids slept in our room because we were all exhausted and terrified”…

If that adult who called police was worried about the kids, why not talk to them? Ask them where their parents were? Walk them home?…

If this is how we respond to children playing alone, my kids and I would’ve been locked up multiple times. Walking the dog around the block? Call the Capitol Police! Getting a popsicle at the corner store? Alert the social workers! Getting me the cheese I ran out of while making dinner? Book ’em!

We need to get a grip. I get that it’s a scary thing to let kids go. But it is absolutely necessary for them to become normal, functioning adults.

I couldn’t say it better myself, though I’ve tried. Just to be clear: while everyone I know on social media is getting hot and bothered by the actions of the police who picked up the children–which is reasonable–this happened solely because some neighbor couldn’t be bothered to ask the children who they were and whether they knew where they were going. (And that’s even assuming the call was in ernest; if otherwise, the cops are either being played by neighbors who have a grudge against the hippies next door.) In any case, an invasive parental bureaucracy is the natural result of neighbors suspicious and paranoid enough that they feel like should remotely enforce rules on others, but who can’t take the time to actually familiarize themselves with the kids who live in their own neighborhood. Don’t be parents like that, please.

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Russell Arben Fox
Russell Arben Fox grew up milking cows and baling hay in Spokane Valley, WA, but now lives in Wichita, KS, where he runs the History & Politics and the Honors programs at Friends University, a small Christian liberal arts college. He aspires to write a book about the theory and practice of democracy, community, and environmental sustainability in small to mid-sized cities, like the one he has made his and his family's home; his scribblings pertaining to that and related subjects are collected at the Substack "Wichita and the Mittelpolitan." He also blogs--irregularly and usually at too-great a length--more broadly about politics, philosophy, religion, socialism, bicycling, books, farming, pop music, and whatever else strikes his fancy, at "In Medias Res."


  1. “while everyone I know on social media is getting hot and bothered by the actions of the police who picked up the children”
    Shades of Pauline Kael’s (apocryphal?) comment about Nixon’s re-election…Read the comments at the linked story and try not to weep for the country. Lots and lots of commenters think that it is obvious that these parents are monsters endangering their children, who will almost certainly be abducted and murdered any day now. But to many of them even worse is the way that they are deliberately flouting The Law, which Must Be Obeyed. How dare they! Your italicized admonitions might as well be written in Sanskrit for all they will mean to such people.

  2. Read the comments at the linked story and try not to weep for the country.

    A fair comment, Brian! (And one backed-up by a comment from friend of mine who made the same realization. If everyone finds this sort of behavioral so beyond the pale, why is it happening?, he asked himself. Then he said he read the comments on the original article….and thought: wow–obviously, there are more supporters for state-encouraged helicopter parenting than I though.)

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