When self-proclaimed "free-range parents" Danielle and Alexander Meitiv let their kids walk home from the park alone this weekend, somewhere in the backs of their minds they worried there might be trouble.
Not from their kids, Rafi, 10, and Dvora, 6—who knew to be home by 6 p.m—but from authorities, who had already held the parents responsible for "unsubstantiated neglect" in December, when a concerned neighbor called authorities after seeing the two youngsters hoofing it on their own.
But this time, things were a whole lot worse than before. The kids headed home around 5 p.m., but were picked up by police just two blocks from their house. They were held in a police car for two hours, and eventually taken to a crisis center. Meanwhile, the Meitiv parents were becoming frantic, according to the Washington Post.
After the kids weren't home by 6, Alexander went out to search while Danielle stayed home in case they showed up. Eventually—hours later—they got a call from authorities, who said they had the kids.
The kids were released to their parents around 10:30 p.m. The couple had to wait more than two hours at the crisis center before being allowed to see their young ones.
In order to get the kids back, the couple had to sign papers saying the would not leave the children unsupervised until Child Protective Services could follow up.
The Meitivs are one of a number of families who have been brought before authorities for letting kids have freedoms that others in their community think are too much. The two are luckier than other moms, some of whom have been arrested or even jailed.
Danielle is a climate-science consultant, and Alexander is a physicist at the National Institutes of Health.