Parents in danger of having six-year-old daughter taken away for letting her walk to their local post office on her own

A reader of Free Range Kids is in danger of having his six-year-old daughter taken into protective services custody because he let her walk a few blocks to the post office in their Ohio town. The kid, Emily, asked for a little independence, and was given permission to take some unsupervised, short walks. Neighbors and cops freaked out, detained her, detained her parents, sent CPS after them, and has made their life into a nightmare -- one that's just getting worse and worse.

Day 41: We are served with a complaint alleging neglect and dependency. The County wants to take Emily into “protective supervision” or “temporary custody.” The complaint contains many factual errors and inaccuracies.

There is also a motion for “pre-dispositional interim orders.” As I understand it, this is a mechanism by which CPS can intervene even before the merits of the case against us for neglect are even heard, but less decided. It is scheduled to take place more than a month before the hearing on the neglect charge. It asks the court to force my wife and I to “allow ______ County Children Services to complete an assessment with the family. This is including allowing the agency access in the home, allowing the agency to interview the children, and participate openly in the assessment process.” In other words, they want to search our house, interrogate the children, and force us to testify.

We are trying our best to raise Emily to be responsible, curious, and capable. We have chosen to include teaching her about using the library, navigating the neighborhood, and mailing letters as elements of her homeschooling. Needless to say, this entire ordeal has been quite distressing for the entire family, and we view it as a threat to our homeschooling her, our parental rights, and both my and Emily’s civil liberties. Since our family is being threatened by legal action, I have tried to confine my comments to a dispassionate statement of known facts.

As Lenore Skenazy notes, this shouldn't deter you from letting your own kids move independently about their towns: "I am posting this story NOT because it is common and we should all worry about being hounded by CPS if we let our kids go outside. I am posting it in utter outrage at the idea that a child on her own could be considered neglected or in danger when she is so obviously, clearly, and indisputably neither."

They're looking for pro bono legal assistance.

6-y.o. Who Walked Alone to Post Office May be Removed from Her Home


  1. Well, it clearly is not a safe neighborhood to let your 6 year old kid walk alone. Look at all the trouble she got into!

    1. It goes both ways – to some extent the father’s at fault here for putting his libertarian ideals ahead of his child’s safety. Specifically: he has placed her at risk of being taken away by CPS by trying to hide from the government. Nothing about his parenting approach is a problem, but ignoring the government in this way is a problem, completely the wrong way to deal with them, and has caused this situation to escalate.
      What he should have done – what anybody should do when this sort of thing happens – was to go directly to a lawyer when he first had a letter from CPS. He should have directed his lawyer to send a polite but extremely firm letter to the CPS, police, and any other relevant authorities telling them to back the hell off and threatening to sue them if they kept doing this. When the police detained his daughter the second time, that lawyer should have been at the police station getting his daughter released and putting together the case for his harassment lawsuit.

      You don’t defend your rights by hiding at home and polishing your shotgun. You do it in a calm and civil manner and with the full force of the law.

      1. Go immediately to lawyers and threaten to sue? Hurrah for the ten thousand dollar solution. As much as this story makes me ill, I feel even worse imagining myself living in a society where every time I get a dumb letter from the government or a corporation I have to hire lawyers.

        1. But, but, thats the way the lawyers and politicians have set things up – to ensure they get more work out of the deal :P

        2. Not every time, but every time your child’s safety is under threat. Unless you think it’s more important to have thousands of dollars, in which case you’d get more by selling them into slavery. (Yes, that still happens; no, it’s not okay)

          But thank you for demonstrating exactly what I was talking about: you have placed your hatred of lawyers ahead of the child’s safety, instead of doing what it takes to protect them.

        3. The dad doesn’t need a lawyer to threaten a lawsuit, he needs a lawyer
          so he has competent legal representation when dealing with his town, the
          police, and CPS.  There’s an old saying “He who represents himself has a
          fool for a lawyer”.  This guy is a know-it-all amateur taking on government agencies that
          have far more resources than he does.  Add that to the fact that he probably comes across as a nut to the police and CPS, and dad is setting himself up
          for a battle that he can’t win (at least not in the short term), dragging his young daughter down in the

          A lawyer in a small town is either going to know all
          the government people involved in this case or be connected someone who
          knows them.  As a first step the lawyer could talk to the police dept.
          and someone from CPS and oft the record say “you know, dad’s a bit of a
          nutter, but he’s raising his kid to be independent.  There doesn’t seem
          to be any harm to her and she’s not in any danger so call off the witch
          hunt. I’ll ask him to keep a closer eye on her and not be such an ass
          when he is approached by an officer.”

      2.  Maybe it’s because I’m not American but this attitude seems completely crazy, batshit insane.  It sounds close to blackmail.  Or maybe a protection racket.

        1. What does “in before” even mean?  You want to shout those things, but pretend somebody else is shouting them, and you just happen to be before them?

          1. As many times as Reddit front-page material ends up on BoingBoing after it goes front-page on Reddit, or as many times as Reddit got a mention last year…are you shocked?

          2.  Gasp! a blog posting somthing that was also posted somewhere else?!! This gateway drug could soon lead to full-blown INTERNETS!

  2. For goodness sake, I was walking the few blocks to school and back every day when I was six.

        1. Yep… “when the street lights turn on… or Johns’s mom gets tired of you, whichever is first.”

        2. Yes but bad people didn’t exist back in the Golden Age of Kids.  Now there are pedophiles under every bed.

        3. It was that way in the home town of some of my cousins, to an acquaintance of mine.  Free range kids, all the way.  On one of my cousins, they mounted a search of the town when he’d been missing for nearly a day, only to find him asleep at home, behind the couch.

          And then, in 1989, it changed.  Why?  Well, let me tell you.  This comes with a big ol’ TRIGGER WARNING if you can’t stand to hear about rape or brutal murder, but I have to get it out.

          Should I leave it at that?  Maybe, but I won’t.  When people get all high and mighty about how I should let my kids run free.  Fuck NO, shitlords.  Gather ’round, this one’s a tale full of nightmare sauce.  Wouldn’t want to be the only one to get a sleepless night or five out of this.
          This kid was going out to look for her brother, who was looking for the family dog.  They don’t know if she willingly got in the car, or if the guy grabbed her, the important thing is that he took her.  Then he brutalized her.  He anally raped her.  Turns out he wasn’t just some rapist looking to take what he wanted.  Oh, no.  He wanted blood.  Literally, wanted blood.  So he beat her severely.  That wasn’t good enough, though, so he sliced her neck.  And of course, that wasn’t good enough, so he tried stomping on her for a while.  And when he still wasn’t satisfied, he ran her over with a car.

          He left her nude, brutalized corpse on my grandpa’s property.

          And I just skimmed the major points.  Murderpedia has a detailed description.

          “Oh, why don’t we just teach men not to rape?”  That shit has the same flaw as libertarianism: it assumes people make rational decisions for rational reasons, or that those decisions will be decoupled from society enough that only a small percentage will be affected.  A comforting thought, unless your family ends up being the victims, of course.

          1. Your story explains your fear but is not evidence of increased danger.

            Driving your kids to soccer games is more dangerous than letting them walk there.

          2. No, walking down the sidewalk is more dangerous than being in a car going down the street.  Now, if you can walk to the game without going along a street I’ll agree with you.

          3. No, walking down the sidewalk is more dangerous than being in a car going down the street.

            This is demonstrably false.  Risk is objectively measurable. There’s nothing wrong with having fears, but it helps to know when they’re irrational.

            Personally, I’m afraid of bears and sharks.

          4. As horrible as that story is, ugly shit like that has probably been happening since the beginning of mankind. It is no reason to overprotect your children into semi-dysfunctional human beings.

            In fact, using stories like this to justify the advancement of the nanny-state, from government down to single family-units is a huge part of the problem.

          5.  This. Exactly this. These kinds of crimes, hideous as they are, are as rare as they have always been, if not rarer.

          6. Should we regale you with the millions of stories of the children who played alone and outside today, all around the world, who did not get harmed? Or, does that not push the fear trigger enough?
            Teaching children to fear the world is the fast track to having mentally ill children. The worst part is that they end up raising their own children to fear the world. It’s a cruel cycle.
            Be bold a brave in life. Teach your children the same. If something horrible happens, realize it is not the world at large, but rather the person who brought harm that is evil.

        1.  At age 7 I rode the public buses, including crossing major streets.  The only problem was bus drivers not stopping.

      1.  As was I. I rode my bike allover, played with my brother and our friends, and wasn’t allowed back inside except for mealtimes. My husband however, wasn’t allowed to play by himself anywhere until he was 12, and apparently my kids won’t be trusted to go outside alone either for my husband’s fear of them being sold into child sex slavery.

    1. And here’s what I don’t get. These nervous nannies calling the cops, and working for CPS are *our peer group.* Like, they probably did the same thing when they were six. Everyone they grew up with did the same thing. How is it that they all succumbed to the boogeyman of child predators?

  3. The reality is, in this day and age, if you see a six year old kid alone on the street, it raises red flags. Even though I think the authorities have overreacted a bit, the parents exercised a lack of common sense in this case because anyone with eyeballs could have seen this coming from a mile away. I’m sure by now they’ve learned that lesson the hard way.

      1. Sexual predators, inner city gangs, packs of wild dogs, meteorite impacts… You know, whatever is hip and hyped right now.

        1. “packs of wild dogs”  At six years old this was my biggest fear.  I always had a tree scoped out just in case a dog came at me.  Seems odd today but back then it seemed like there was always some angry dog  around to dodge.

          1. Angry dogs are a real threat, one got out of his yard and savaged my bike tire as a kid, I cried all the way home. Of course if I’d been walking, perhaps it would have been my leg, at least I had a bike to put in front of me.

      2. The thing you most have to fear in this day and age is fear. Specifically, the fear in the busybodies who are ruled by unreasonable fear of what *might* happen, who call authorities who gain power by continually feeding that fear, to do things that are as bad as what they fear *might* happen, like kidnapping the kids and putting them in a “safe” environment away from their parents and everyone they know, which should be considered just as bad when the authorities do it without a real valid justification as it would be if anyone else were to do it, if everyone wasn’t so afraid of everything all the time and looking to the very same authorities to save them from the largely imaginary monsters. The only common sense here is what is lacked by all of the people except for the parents in this case. The reality is, people who apologise for overreactions by the authorities, blame the real victims, and buy into thinking about things in terms of “red flags” are part of the problem, not part of the solution.

    1. Why?

      The thousands of kidnapped children sold into pornography rings? The slave trade between the U.S. and Eastern Europe? The molesters on every corner? Or is it the endemic Satanist child sacrifice cults?

      You’re a victim of propaganda, your paranoia has been induced by the media, and now you’re a soft target for creeping authoritarianism. The goal of which, after all, is simply to keep you safe.

        1. And that is a legit fear. Way above everything else that people quote. But that can just as easily happen to you and your kid at the same time. *Mumbling about not having a link to recent drunk driving incident in Seattle*

          1. Amen. This is why you teach your children how to be aware of cars and how to be safe and responsible around them.

            And thanks to Brad for bringing up one of the only legitimate concerns.

          2. Aye, right. I always drummed it into my girl that she should assume everyone in a car is a dangerous lunatic who will run her over at the drop of a hat (not even remotely joking).

          3. Anytime to a point, If my kids playing in backyard not so much. My kid is 5 so my main concern, besides people driving like jackasses in a residential neighborhood; is this at five size wise he is just not that easy for most drivers to notice on a busy street till it’s to late.

      1. I know that I would never let a child of mine leave the house. Ever. For any reason. And I would probably make him or her wear a leash indoors, too. That’s one reason that I would never become a parent. I acknowledge that I’m far too neurotic.

          1. If somebody abducted a child here, they’d probably return it three hours later with better clothes and hair.

    2. It’s not the children who are committing the crimes here. Instead, maybe the police or a friendly and caring neighbor could observe the child for a few blocks and see that she arrived safely. Perhaps at the Post office, approach the child and gently ask a few questions. ‘Where do you live, what is your phone number, do have your parents’ permission to be out alone?’ The problem in ‘this day and age’ is that we DGAF about our communities and we allow ‘this day and age’ to exist in the form it does because of our own failing to police our communities in the way we should.

      Contrast with Japan, where parents are more or less expected to send their young children on such trips before they start preschool, to give them that confidence and independence because they WILL be walking to preschool or to the bus stop or the train station. And adults of no relation seeing such children out on their little trips will spur them on if the children seem to be distracted from their missions.

      1. Considering that what set off this chain of events was “The cops get a phone call from a concerned citizen who says there’s a strange guy talking to a little girl,” and that strange guy was her dad, I wouldn’t be too carefree about talking to a little kid in public when you really are a stranger.

        1. I see your point, but I’d be much happier if the concerned neighbor were to come out of the house and ask the child, ‘Are you okay? Is this your father? Do you know this man?’ As a parent, I think I would react to that in a friendly manner, and introduce myself, become a neighbor, and know that in the future, my kid would be just a little bit safer out of my sight.

          1.  But the average person doesn’t do that, they’d rather call the cops, just to be safe

          2. The average person is probably worried that they will get involved, which is usually bad in most people’s minds sadly. If I saw a kid that looked lost or confused or upset, I would try to help by talking to them at least before I called 911.

        2. This is what terrifies me as a father. I worry that if I so much as speak to or look in the general direction of someone else’s kid, I’m going to end up talking to cops, and be completely hosed as a result. Hell, I get a bit nervous just being in public alone with my daughters!

      2. And the correct answer from a properly raised six year old would be “Like hell I’m telling a stranger my address and phone number.  If you try to follow me out of this post office I will call the police.”

        Unfortunately, actually calling the police for help in this town sounds like a dangerous proposition.

        1. Unfortunately, actually calling the police for help in this town sounds like a dangerous proposition.


      3. There is a Korean reality show that´s very popular right now, where a bunch of extremely adorable children (about 6 years old) go on trips with their fathers. There is always a part where the children have to go out on their own to buy food for dinner, or explore an abandoned house to find “treasure”. In one episode they *gasp* actually had to take the bus to do so.

        The contrast of popular media like this and the scaremongering that seems to be going on in parts of the US is stark and I fear for the mental stability of some of those American children.

      4.  It does help that Japan’s crime rate is very very low. I visited Japan twice on study-abroad trips, and never once felt unsafe, even when we were walking or biking around the city at very late hours. I saw plenty of little kids (usually elementary age, not preschool) walking or riding the subway, and it was totally accepted– but Japan is also a country where, if you forget something on the subway seat, no one will touch it, not even to move it over so they can sit there.

        The US has a much higher crime/violence rate, so I do understand people’s caution. Depending on where you live, it very well could be unsafe for your kids to roam around. Lack of independence is not the only factor here.

    3. Sorry but that’s utter crap. If I saw a kid driving a car I’d be worried, but walking around your town at the age of six is
      not weird. Did you have friends at the age of six? Did you ever go play with them outside? If not the bubble-wrap must have really chafed!

      1. In my home town, a 6 year old driving a car (or tractor) from the Valcourt centre down to their house down the hill, was not at all odd. They got in trouble for letting their kids do that all the time :P
        It was quite common to see a vehicle go by slowly with apparently no one at the wheel – until you saw the young face staring intently between the steering wheel. To be fair they may not have been 6, more likely 8.

    4. The reality is, in this day and age, if _I_ see a six year old alone on the street or taking the subway (and I do every day), I assume they are just on their way to or from school/daycare.

      And so does everyone else I assume since nobody freaks out…

    5. Losing their kid, that’s ‘the hard way’ alright.

      Or being faced with a very real threat of losing their kids, yep, ‘the hard way.’

      Fact: Today is safer than any time in recent history, but people are more freaked out because they watch more TV. That’s really the only difference.

  4. I guess these events answer the question “what’s the worst that could happen if you give your kid a little independence?”

    1. It’s bad, but it isn’t the worst, not by a long shot.  Here’s a link to the worst:

      This CPS thing is probably 2nd worst or maybe 3rd worst.

      And before anyone gets knickers in a twist, I’m all for 6 yr olds walking alone to post offices.  99.999% of the time it turns out fine.  And in days of yore, as a six-yr old, I walked 3/4 of a mile to school by myself.  But hey, that was 1969 and families were, on average, much larger so if one kid went missing, it was not quite as big a deal. 

      And more mom’s were at home during the day.  Neighborhoods today, where I live, are largely deserted during the workday.

      1. But hey, that was 1969 and families were, on average, much larger so if one kid went missing, it was not quite as big a deal.

        Whoa. Slow down there, Sparky.

        1. “You know, I brought you in this world, and I can take you out. And it don’t make no difference to me, I’ll make another one look just like you.” – Bill Cosby quoting his father.

          1. That’s the classical and still somewhat preeminent world view on children. Old people have irreplaceable wisdom and some mysterious shit like gravitas and children are fungible. The idea of rescuing children instead of adults would be looked at with incomprehension in much of the world.

          2. Given the historical rates of survival to adulthood and the fairly close to modern lifespans that you had IF you made it that would be a reasonable and responsible world-view.  (from a view of “survival of the species” at a minimum)

      2. Yeah, remember that one time a rare event happened?

        But yeah, I see your point: in 1969 there were a lot of spare children.

        1. Yeah, remember that one time a rare event happened?

          Yeah, still have nightmares about it, and still think about it when my girls are out of sight and earshot.

          1.  So, I get what you are saying.  You want to protect your kids.  But, How far does it go?  Will you follow them everywhere they go outside the house?  Until they are what age?  Do you want them to live in fear for the rest of their lives?  Where do you draw the line between safety and independence for your kids? 

      3.  “And more mom’s were at home during the day.  Neighborhoods today, where I live, are largely deserted during the workday.”

        Really? I grew up in the 70’s and no housewives were manning the battlements scanning the streets for thugs and terrorists back then either. Kids got snatched, molested, beat up, or killed just as often then as they do today. At least today they have Amber alerts.

        1. …no housewives were manning the battlements…

          As it turns out, cooking, cleaning, laundry, shopping, etc. is a full-time job.

          1. Which is why, with a full-time job, my house looks like shit, and there’s no bloody food in it. Of course, I own a teenager, which doesn’t help.

          2. When I was a teenager, I was the housewife since my mother worked more than full time.

        2. I also grew up in the 70s and there were Neighborhood Watch signs all over the place and we were given stern instructions, in school, to seek out a house with such a sign if anyone tried to abduct us. 

          I doubt that the current era is significantly more dangerous, but I do think that there was more of an assumption that the community, as a whole, would watch out for stray kids than there is in our current era.

          I don’t think that it’s controversial to note that modern neighborhoods are often populated by people who are strangers to one another. 

          1. Actually, today is safer, despite what the media would have you believe.

            So, do we work to bring back more of a sense of community engagement, or admit that community is dead and bring more fear?

        3. The murder rate was actually higher at that time than it is today.

          Crime has been declining for 20 years, but fear of crime keeps going up.

          1. So, over time we’ve:

            – Become more protective of our children.
            – Seen a reduction in crimes relating to small children.

            Am I the only one that’s seeing the link here?

  5. I’m torn on this.  The overreaction of locals and law enforcement is sickening, but the families distrust of their communities and local authorities is just as sad.  You can point it it seems justified, but pleading the fifth in all cases, ignoring CPS, and repeating “Am I free to go?” seems a tad baiting.  I would assume it’s because he fears lacking council he could say or do something that could be used against him, but his unwillingness to address CPS or local law enforcement will be used against him.

    1.  his unwillingness to address CPS or local law enforcement will be used against him

      The relevant question is if they could use his own statements against him better than they can use his silence. 

      Since he is an amateur going up against experienced professionals, I think silence is a reasonable choice for his self defense.

      1. They’re not using anything “against him.”  that’s why the 5th amendment doesn’t apply.  They are using the statements – or the silence – to decide if a child is in danger.  And you had better believe that CPS will assume — many times rightly so — that a refusal to answer simple questions is a good sign that the child is in danger.

    2.  You don’t know jack about CPS or local law enforcement. They will respond harshly and negatively no matter how he interacts with them. The only reasonable option is legal counsel, because those folks don’t do anything reasonable unless they see the possible threat of a lawsuit hanging over them.

    3. Regardless of your personal feelings on the matter, using your rights can not be used as probable cause. There is no “baiting,” unless you’re trying to excuse bad behavior by the CPS.

      1. But when officers report to an occupied home, an officer identifies themselves and they are ignored that can be probable cause.  Simply letting CPS and local law enforcement know you’re actively seeking council and will get back to them when you have it should help calm things down a little.  Put a ring into the ACLU or the HSLDA and see if you can get them to smooth things over.

        1. “But when officers report to an occupied home, an officer identifies themselves and they are ignored that can be probable cause.”

          No, it’s not. 

        2. Have you ever called the ACLU?  they don’t take random cases from random callers who have police at their door.  

      2. Probable cause is the standard for arrest.  There is no arrest at issue here.  From what I recall, at least in California, there is no probable cause required for at least some, if not all CPS interventions.  There is a due process requirement, but like with the Ohio procedure cited in the OP, due process may be satisfied after the fact in some cases.

        Not saying it’s right, but that’s the way it is.  Probable cause is not the standard.

    4. If you don’t distrust the police, you either have had the good fortune to lead a very sheltered life, or you’re not that smart.  A friend of mine works in translation at a refugee relief organization, and a lot of the stuff they translate is information about state services into languages spoken by refugee populations.  They won’t do any work for CSD because of their appalling record of abuse when dealing with immigrant families.  In other words, I see no reason that any reasonable person should trust either the police or CSD, and the problem is not iwth the citizen who doesn’t trust them.

    5. This video is essential viewing.  In it, a law professor speaks on why, even if you’re innocent of any wrong doing whatsoever, you never, ever talk to police.  Then a police detective gets up and explains from his point of view exactly why the law professor is right.

      The 5th amendment is often used by guilty people to protect themselves, but it was created to be used by the innocent people to protect themselves against the government.

      1. cps is not police.  this guidance is absolutely right when applied to police, and totally 100% wrong when applied to CPS.

        1. CPS has the power to take your children away and/or put you in jail based on the words you use when talking to them.  In that regard, they are the police.  So, while you shouldn’t ignore them, you should never talk to them without a lawyer present.

    6. The instant you start interacting with the legal system, in any way, the only safe choice is “I am saying nothing without a lawyer present”.  This case is a pretty good demonstration of why.

      1. True for police.  Not true for CPS.  If you say that to CPS, they have a right — and perhaps a duty — to assume you are covering up some abuse of your kids and to take the investigation further.  On the other hand, if you treat them like regular people and explain why you are a regular person, they (unlike the police) are likely to go away because they are way too busy to deal with someone who is likely to not be a danger.  (the police are different because if they are questioning you, they’ve already decided to arrest you and won’t stop until they do — not true for cps).

    7. I don’t think you know much about CPS. All of our basic rights we take for granted – seeing evidence, presumption of innocence, etc. etc. are thrown out when family services are involved

  6. Sigh.  When I was 6+ I would walk all over the place alone. 1/2 mile to Mcdonalds or the Wilco.  Sometimes up to Hardees for breakfast.  I miss those times, they were like little adventures for me at that age.  I hate that people don’t feel safe allowing that kind of freedom today.  Either the boogieman or government will ruin the adventure now.

  7. What an over-reaction! It was the child’s own idea. You know, the 6-year-old. She wanted independence so they said, “Yeah, ok”. It was her idea, not theirs. Not their resposibility at all. The child’s welfare.

    Personally I think these people are dangerous idiots, but I can’t back it up without knowing the context. Not all neighbourhoods are created equal. My friends have a five year-old living half a kilometre from my house, and if he walked here on his own I’d be horrified. How many junkies and weirdoes is it ok for a kid to walk past alone? What’s the number “free range parents” advocate?

    Save us from hippy parents.

    Chris Morris’s Bluejam is becoming a reality, isn’t it:

    1. What an over-reaction!

      Not their resposibility at all. The child’s welfare.

      I just wanted to quote those two parts of your drivel and see if it got any of your rusty gears moving for you.

    2. Or stand up and do something about the “junkies and weirdoes” that infest your community.

      1. I do my bit, for a youth organisation. There’s not much you can do. Street people rarely recover, and I’m not going to start locking them up or shoving them on to the next post-code.

        If you have a better suggestion, I’d love to hear it.

    3. I dedicate the lyrics and vibe of this song… to you. It’s one of my silly, “hippy” songs. You can google the lyrics. Enjoy.

      1.  “Hippy” was lazy of me. “Laissez-faire” would be the right term to use.

        I don’t mean to offend you or anyone else trying new and well-examined ways of educating children. A good friend of mine is a teacher who is attempting to move into the “forest kindergarten” style of education, and it sounds great to me.

        What I will say though, is that just because someobdy subscribes to the same philosophy as you, it doesn’t mean they’re applying it well. The couple in question may just be irresponsible, and subscribe to a certian philosophy, rather than being damned as irresponsible because they subscribe to a certain philosophy.

        I could be completely wrong in my instincts on this, and that’s all I’m going on. There isn’t a full picture to evaluate.

        I apologise unreservedly for any offence I may have caused with my original comment.

    4.  You make no sense and have contributed nothing to this conversation.  In fact, I don’t even know why I’m wasting time replying to your nonsense.  Are you a troll?

      1. Not a troll. My comment was a poorly-delineated mixture of sarcasm and anger, it was a bad day and I think I kind of used the comment box as a punchbag. I did have a point I was trying to make though.

        Ultimately I think neglect by design is still neglect.

        Evaluating the case is hard as many detials are omitted. The use of “3 blocks” as distance and no mention of what town the incident happens in means there is nothing to evaluate the parents decision. What is 150m in a quite, residential area, or 3km in a ghetto? But that only pertains to everyday badness and hassle you can encounter on the street.

        For something more extreme and rare, like child abduction, there’s no way of knowing whether it’s a possibility, no matter where you live. But it’s easy to guard against, by not letting small kids wander around alone. All the gumption in the world won’t protect a child that size from being scooped up and carried off.

        I think that the site linked to in the article would detail anything which illustrates that it wasn’t a bad decision if they could, as they would like to demonstrate that the adherents of “Free Range Parenting” aren’t neglectful. So based on that, I get the impression that this case isn’t a good example of free-range parenting.

        So my point is, there’s nothing to convince me that these people are actually fit to raise children.

        I believe that the child’s right to be raised with due care may have been violated, and that is as important part of the equation as the parent’s right to raise the child their own way. The latter right only applies insofar as the former right is not affected.

        1. For something more extreme and rare, like child abduction, there’s no way of knowing whether it’s a possibility, no matter where you live.

          Of course there’s a way of knowing, and of course it is a possibility — a microscopically small one. You might as well go ahead and make the kid wear a suit of armor and a motorcycle helmet, because there’s a possibility of bear attacks or falling masonry. Whereas the subtler long-term damage to a coddled overprotected child’s confidence and general life skills is almost a certainty. That’s the risk analysis that was performed here; it’s not like this guy was sending his daughter to the post office because he’s too lazy to buy stamps himself.

          1. The thing is though, the paedo/boogeyman isn’t the only risk. Saying “child-abduction is rare” doesn’t make traffic, dogs or building sites less dangerous.

            And while it’s admirrable to teach responsibility from a young age, it’s reckless to presume adult-level reason in a context where it hasn’t been gaiend yet.

    5. Drunk parents just don’t give a shit. ‘Nerd’ parents have a very definite plan and philosophy for raising confident, self-reliant, strong children.

      1.  I think these parents believe that, but I think what they’re doing is reckless.

        Leaving a child of 6 unattended in an urban area is a bad idea, an completely unnecessary risk, in my opinion. The lack of security it entails is the same whether it’s motivated by expermimental child-rearing techniques or neglect.

  8. I’m all for free-range kids.  My own son was raised to be independent and we live in a neighborhood full of similar parents.

    But these parents have CREATED legitimate grounds for investigation, not by letting their daughter walk to the post office, but by putting libertarian absolutism ahead of sanity.

    Letting the kid walk to the library is fine as is being unhappy about the police questioning. Be proactive and engage a lawyer as an intermediary or answer the door and speak to them on the porch if you really don’t want them to come inside.  But being uncooperative on the phone and hiding inside for more than a month when government agents charged with protecting children are doing their job is needlessly antagonistic.

    1. Yep, pretty much my thoughts. The lead up to CPS getting involved seemed like complete bullshit, however once CPS are asked to investigate, they’re not going to go away simply because you refuse to answer the door or respond to letters. Ignoring them, and law enforcement for a month has escalated the situation to the point its at today.

    2. when government agents charged with protecting children are doing their job

      What are they protecting her from again? The people in their imaginations?

      1. From a CPS agent’s point of view, they have no idea whether the girl lives in a a junkie/hoarder/horror house or total neglect situation.  

        They’d like to find out whether that is the case; since some children do, and it’s their job to intervene if so.

        When the parents refuse to talk on the phone or answer the door for a month, that sends up all sorts of red flags, and the CPS agents escalate.  

        Both because they’ve had first-hand experience taking kids out of heartbreaking, stomach-churning living situations; and because it’s their name on the front page and their pension on the line if they make a bad call and the kid gets found buried in the backyard a month later.

        Yes, the neighbor who called the cops about a “strange man” who was the girl’s father was a moron.

        And the cop who detained the girl was likely a moron, (although my sense is that dad’s super-shady demeanor with the cop made things much, much worse).

        But the moron prize goes to the parents, who appear to be doing everything in their power to provoke an overreaction by CPS and law enforcement.

        At no time did dad say “officer, my girl is mailing a letter at the post office 3 blocks from our house.  She wanted to go by herself, so we let her.  I trailed along to keep an eye on her.”  That would have been the end of the story, or the beginning of a different, similar story I could actually get outraged about.

        1. Exactly. 

          “stranger danger” pedophilia/kidnappings are statistically non-existent, but that hardly means that all children are living in safe homes with

          All primates are social animals – if you chose to act antisocially you’re is going to be treated with suspicion.  It’s baked in.

          If you want to be a libertarian absolutist with no government intrusion – buy a big spread of land in an unincorporated rural county and knock yourself out.  But even there, you’d be wise to introduce yourself to the local sheriff if you see him in town and introduce yourself to the neighbors. 

    3.  Exactly.  If CPS blows off a report, they know full well that at some point they’re going to wind up hand-waving away something that turns out to be stomach-churningly awful.  And having worked jobs that had a lot of contact with CPS and supervised families, I feel pretty confident saying that people hiding in the house refusing to answer the door rarely turns out to be a truly “nothing to see here, everybody go home!” kind of situation.  If CPS had to wait for probable cause and warrants and etc., the news would be full of (more) stories about children being found beaten to death and pimped out online, while the public would rage at the “red tape of bureaucracy” that held things up while children suffered (think of the children!)

      And boy, weren’t people rushing to complain “well somebody should have gone inside that house and poked around in the yard, somebody should have followed up on those reports that something was wrong” when it turned out to be Jaycee Lee Dugard kept captive for 18 years whose potential leads got round-filed by the authorities…  But hey, he was just a guy who didn’t like talking to police, no big deal right?

    4. So, a person is not responding properly to misguided, overreaching government authorities who have threatened to take away his child for no reason, and THEREFORE he needs to be investigated by these same misguided, overreaching authorities to see if his child should be taken away?

      1.  Absolutely not. BUT, he probably should have got some expert advice on getting the cops to fuck off. As it strikes me, a lot of this comes down to a cop’s initial overreaction, and not being able to say, ‘OK, I was wrong, my apologies’, and maybe just keeping an eye out for the kid on their beat in future. Sadly, lawyers looks like the only fix. Only now it’s gonna need more of them.

  9. Foster care is dangerous. Statistically speaking, that is. Not to mention a traumatic experience for the kid.

    The only reason to take a kid into foster care is if he/she is in a house so dangerous that the child would be safer in foster care.

    Taking a kid into care for any other reason is child endangerment. 

  10. Can we centralize all of the “when I was a kid…” recollections as replies to this comment? Thanks.

    1.  My recollections are responsible enough to roam all over this thread. I see no reason to confine them to a walled garden for fear of snarky replies from strangers.

  11.  I remember being 7 and being annoyed with adults for not being respected just because I didn’t know everything they did yet. I biked 1km then walked 1km to school and then back every day when I was 7. when I was 10 I took two different buses by myself to the end of the line to go to school and back; changing at a busy market area with 10+ bus lines ended and getting dropped off in the seedy part of town with a bunch of small gambling businesses.

  12. my siblings and I grew up home schooled and very independent, we were all doing our own laundry, chores, and cooking meals for ourselves before we were 6, not because we were being neglected but because we were being encouraged to be independent self teachers.  
    BUT! we would never have been allowed to walk anywhere alone when we were 6 almost purely because my parents were terrified of CPS and people who have a fearful ignorance of any thing outside the norm.
    I think we were allowed to start going places on our own around 10-11ish 

  13. I am a big proponent of the H247 law soon to be pushed through congress.  The H stands for helments.  24 for hours and 7 for days a week.  If we all wore helmets all the time, or at least just the innocent children, think of the lives that would be saved.  Think of the children!  

    1. I live somewhere where bike helmets are mandatory, and it’s interesting the pretty clear statistics that show that these laws have dissuaded people from riding bikes and encouraged more car driving, ultimately leading to more fatalities.

  14. Oh PLEASE! What is it with BoingBoing and the Free Range Kids blog?  Do you not notice that she NEVER posts a link to an actual news story, or a reputable source?  Or that there doesn’t seem to be anyone else on the entire internet that has this story, except in that it is regurgitated from her blog or yours?  It seems like she just continues to pull these stories out of ….shall we say thin air.

    1. You are quite wrong.

      Right now, the front page of that blog contains five stories.
      Two of them do not require links – an amusing anecdote, and an announcement of some speaking engagements.

      The other three are:
      – about a CBC radio interview – linked
      – about an NBC Philadelphia story – linked
      – the story that is the focus of this article, whose subjects are trying to preserve some privacy, hence the unsurprising lack of links to news sources – indeed they’re very unlikely to have approached media, so there probably aren’t any stories to link to.

      I had a quick peak through the archives, and that’s about the norm – most stories that could reasonably be expected to have a supporting link, do.  Interview with criminologist: linked.  Schools introduce stupid overprotective rules – linked.  Free-range kids give panicked mother CPR instructions and save a baby’s life – linked.

    2. That was my thought. We just have the parents’ side of the story and they obviously are going to be biased.

      Also, what age is it young enough for people to say, no, you can’t allow your kid to go out by him- or herself? And I’m not someone who thinks abductions happen constantly but I have seen the aftermath of a hit-and-run on a small child.

    3. It’s like reading Tumblr accounts of thin privilege or discrimination against transhumanism–it seems so contrived, so convoluted, so far out of the realm of what would happen in the real world that it seems fake. 

      I read this and I think FAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAKE, like Natural News fake.

      And if it’s not, I know jack shit about the parents and the kid, and about the area.  For all we know the kid might be walking around looking lost and scared.  Maybe someone’s seen the kid get hit, or something. Maybe the kid was walking to the P.O. through the local gang’s territory, the parents have been told, and there goes the kid off to the P.O.  I don’t know. We don’t know.  We. Don’t. Know.

      And people griping about “busybodies”…oh, FFS, at least someone out there is watching to make sure the kids are safe.

  15. I have a friend who grew up in NYC.  She says that she was taking the subway on her own down to the library and back at age 6.  This was in the early 60s, and there was certainly more to be concerned about in NYC in the 60s than there is in most suburbs today – crimes against children have been decreasing steadily for decades, it’s only the reporting of them that has increased.

  16. I know there are horror stories out there but my wife works for CPS and I have to say, they get a bad rap most of the time. As far as I remember, when this first happened, CPS sent the family a letter and told law enforcement there was not much they could do. They were dealing with real problems, as they should have been.

    But when the complaints mount up, CPS HAS to do something, and an assessment of the situation ABSOLUTELY comes before a hearing or anything else. CPS’s first responsibility is to protect the child, so in a more extreme case, like if someone said that the child was being raped by their parents, CPS would move in and assess the situation before a hearing or any normal process you would typically think of.

    And it’s not like they’re just dying to take kids. Well actually, they see shit every day that makes their skin crawl, but they can’t take the kid unless they have a reason, and it needs to be a big one.

      1. For every one of those, there are thousands of children suffering real abuse.

        1. That may be true, but that’s not the statistic you need to support CPS actions.

          The important statistic is the ratio CPS success to failure – i.e. kids removed from their homes by CPS who had been suffering abuse, and do not subsequently suffer abuse in foster care, vs. kids removed from their homes by CPS who had not been suffering abuse, and subsequently are abused in foster care.

          Citing the background rate of abuse can support the idea of having a CPS, but it doesn’t support the assertion that a particular CPS is doing more good than harm – what matters is CPS’s success rate at moving kids from abusive settings in to safe ones, and avoiding moving them from safe settings into abusive ones.

        1. Those stats are pretty bogus, actually.  They’re based on states reporting the deaths as abuse or neglect, and they don’t account for

          – states that didn’t use to report anything, and then started midway through the period under consideration

          – states that changed how they classified deaths (e.g. accidental drowning in a backyard pool in state X, used to be classified as “accident”, changed to “neglect” in year Y)

      2. Re: MISSY PANTS Case in point:

        “I’m not saying DHS took my son because of my activism. I’m saying the judge–who is elected and who started the Youth Drug Courts in Eugene–has been holding my son because of a political agenda. The judge doesn’t even care what DHS has to say, let alone me. DHS already told the judge they want to send my son home, but the judge has said, ‘No,’” Kirkman said.”

        My wife works for Oregon DHS/CPS. (That being of course: Human Services, not: Homeland Security) : )

        1. I’m not sure that article makes the point you want it to make, or at least not as strongly as you want it to:

          According to the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, Oregon has been removing children from their families at one of the highest rates in the nation since 1985, 70 percent above the national average and double and triple the rate in states widely considered to be models for keeping children safe. Those numbers should give all Oregonians pause.

          Protecting children is foremost, but this cannot be accomplished without seeing the bigger picture, as Noah’s story affirms. Without consideration for the sanctity of the family, the best welfare of children is truly at risk, and should be re-visited, if the cliché “family values” is to mean anything at all.

  17. I love these stories. When I was a kid we didn’t wear seat belts in the back of the station wagon. I was largely unsupervised during daylight hours from around this age. Lets go back to the good old days when the accidental death rate for children was around 50 percent higher than it is now. The reason it’s stupid to let your six year old out on her own is because she doesn’t have the judgement to avoid simple dangers like getting hit by a car. Not due to there being more boogeymen. It was stupid in the 60s and it still is.

    1. What’s your basis for saying this six-year-old “doesn’t have the judgement to avoid simple dangers”? Because it rings mighty false to me. 

      At what age do you think it would be all right to suppose kids might not be complete incompetents, since you don’t think it’s 6? Is it 10? 16? 18? On what basis? If you insist on treating them like incompetents, they will live up to your expectations.

      See also the earlier comment by oasisob1 about child-rearing in Japan. You might also want to pick up a copy of “Free to Learn” by Peter Gray.

      1.  Child-rearing in Japan works because (almost all of) the adults were reared there as well.  One of the difficulties with a pluralistic society such as ours in the US is that diversity is messy: in this situation in particular, differences in child-rearing practices and expectations on how children and adults should interact in public make it harder to determine what will work for a given family in a given neighborhood.

        1. Fair enough, as far as it goes. However, I referred to the “child-rearing in Japan” post to refute the notion that a child should be assumed not to “have the judgement to avoid simple dangers like getting hit by a car”. There are quite a few cars in Japan, whether pluralistic or not.

          1. And the cars drive on the wrong side, making it extra-confusing for the kids.  Plus everything’s in Japanese, so it’s really a mess.

    2.  The two biggest dangers for children: cars and drowning.  These are documented dangers, not bogeyman fears.

      A few months ago, a 15-year-old friend of one of my kids ran directly into traffic (on a major road, with 3 lanes in each direction, and not at a crosswalk) because her hat blew off her head and she wanted to retrieve it before it was smashed by the oncoming cars.

      Yes, you teach them and trust them….but kids make a lot of mistakes.  This is not to say that 6-year-olds can’t walk places by themselves, just that there can be legitimate reasons to be cautious.

  18. I still find this badly sourced. If the government is threatening to take your kids for this outrageous reason, and you don’t at least get a lawyer to make it public with details, then it is very hard to verify this. At least go to a *reporter* rather than an ideological web site. 
    I’m a supporter of “free range kids,” and was one myself. I’m sympathetic to the cause, but outrageous stories without any verifiable details have just about the value of urban legends.

  19. These stories are freaking me out. We fucking moved into our neighborhood so that our kids could walk or bike to all three schools through high school. Our (barely) six year old takes a  5 minute walk everyday to get to kindergarten. He hasn’t yet shown much interest in going any further than that on his own, but there are lots of reasons he will want to soon; friends, a neighborhood store, playgrounds. I’m going to be more worried about him being hassled by police than creeps.

    1. It all depends on the local norms.

      If you see other kids walking without parents, you shouldn’t have to worry.  Conversely, if you’re the only family not driving to school every day, you might not be in the right community for your preferred lifestyle.

      1. Exactly.  My son’s Kindergarten/elementary school (2 miles away) had “walk to school day” EVERY Friday.  The principal would walk as much as a mile from the building to “catch” a kid walking and award them a prize.  He was 3/4 mile from jr. high and is 1 mile from his high school.

        BUT it’s an in-town neighborhood with sidewalks, business/residential mix and school sizes that all contribute to that way of life.  It would be simply impossible in some suburban, gated-community, cul-de-sac superschool area. 

        It sounds like Molly lives in a neighborhood that is a good fit for the way of life that she wants to live.    Her neighbors will know what her kids look like, and the local police will know and police to the local expectations.

    2. >more worried about him being hassled by police than creeps

      That’s a lessen we all need to learn at some point (at least until we eliminate the police).

  20. And this is why we can’t have nice things.
    There are parents who refuse to do anything to educate their crotchfruit about the world and instead expect the world to be wrapped in nerf to protect their precious snowflake.
    When a parent actually instills a child with the knowledge of how to handle an non-nerf coated world everyone flips out.

    There is not a pedophile on very corner, just like there is not a lone-wolf terrorist under every bed.  These are stories they tell you to get you to accept having fewer rights and pay more money to the people selling the snake oil that will fix the problem.
    The sex offender registry will not protect your kid, because what was a useful tool not includes people who peed outside and putting them on the list makes you vote for that prosecutor doing such a good job keeping you safe. 
    But it is far easier to just abdicate being a responsible parent and demand the world protect your child because you refuse to do it yourself.

  21. I just found out that my 12-yo has been slipping out to buy candy between 1 am and 4 am at the drug store a few blocks away. I’m all in favor of free-range kids, but I think that a kid hitting the candy aisle at 3 in the morning should get more concern at the store than “Do you need a bag?” 

    Of course, back in the day the police brought a kid home from an adventure like that for a scolding, not to the station to be handed over to CPS.

    1. But it depends on the kid, doesn’t it?  Letting some kids wander alone is dangerous, but it’s silly to say that letting all kids wander alone is dangerous because it isn’t.

    1. It is my opinion that this is not the best way to handle CPS.

      So what should he do?

      He won’t be able to reason with them.  He won’t be able to out argue them.

      My opinion is that the best way is probably to retain a legal professional to deal with them on your behalf.  Failing that, you can at least avoid helping them build a case against you. 

      What would you do?

  22. This is just one more way the US is off the rails.  Any thinking person who’s considering starting a family should also be considering emigrating.

  23. When I was a kid I would have gotten the back of my Grandma’s hand for saying the word “bra”, but yesterday I walked by an 8 foot picture of a Victoria’s Secret models ass in a thong, front and center at the entrance of our mall.  To compare now to say the late 70’s is silly.  My daughter is JUST starting to get some “freedoms” at 13, and I have to say I’m still a little uneasy about it.  If I saw a six year old walking down the street alone I would absolutely wonder what was going on and probably stop to offer help.  I teach second graders and I can’t imagine them being let out to walk the city streets alone.

    1. But yet, statistics tell us that kids today are safer than they were in the late 70’s. (Maybe it’s partly because there’s no longer an expectation that an adult can batter a child for saying “bra”.)

      1. I have to say, I never felt battered.  I also grew up with respect and manners… which is more than I can say for many youngsters I see now a days.  So if you had a six year old daughter you’d send her to the store for you on foot and feel completely comfortable with that then… is that what you’re saying?  And what statistics are you talking about?  You have some numbers to share?

        1. Battering — yes, I was exaggerating for effect, but on the other hand, I’m more comfortable with my daughter seeing a picture of an ass in a thong, than being hit by an adult. The former is tasteless. The latter, well, don’t try it. And I reject — with evidence! — the suggestion (if it was intended) that hitting is the only way to instil manners in kids.

          I hope to send my daughter to the store on foot by the time she’s six. The store is a few blocks away and there are no major streets to cross. I fully expect to chew my nails down to the quick the first time she does it, but I also want to raise a confident child who becomes a competent adult.

          I’ve seen the stats on violence cited many times. They usually crop up in “in this day and age” conversations like this. I’m sorry that I don’t have a citation close to hand. Sometime when I’ve more time I’ll try to follow up with some cites, or perhaps another helpful boinger will oblige.

          By the way, lately I’ve been reading “Free to Learn” by Peter Gray. The first sixty pages or so are incredibly germane to this discussion.

          1. This: ” I fully expect to chew my nails down to the quick the first time she does it…” To me, this is what it boils down to. By all means, worry about your kid, but don’t let that worry take over your thinking to such a degree that you feel the need to prevent them from growing so that your mind can rest easier.

          1. Antinous, please. There’s a world of difference between someone who beats on a smaller person out of sadism or uncontrolled Hulk-out rage and someone who’s been raised to believe that a corrective spanking is a necessary and proper tool in the parenting toolbox. I was spanked growing up until I was inured enough to it that my mom hurt her hand a lot more than my butt, then she started using a belt (not the buckle end.) I don’t think she ever resorted to it out of sheer anger, much less took pleasure in it. I don’t look back on it through rose-colored glasses and I almost certainly wouldn’t ever spank my hypothetical kids, but it’s silly to lump together a woman raised on outmoded child-rearing techniques and a criminal batterer. Intent matters.

    2.  Which is why you walk with your kids when they’re little, and watch movies and TV shows with them, and listen to songs with them….and provide running sociopolitical commentary on it all.  That way, when they start to do all these things by themselves, they still have the background sound track of their parent(s) pointing out sexism, racism, etc. in their brains.

      You can check to see if it’s still working by starting up again…..they’ll let you know quickly that they remember all your points in vivid detail.

  24. Let’s figure out all of the identities of all of the officials who have made this happen.  Figure out which of them have kids, and file complaints with child protective services for fear that they are going to die of suffocation.

    (I am serious.)

  25. Father refuses to answer any questions, returns mail, hides when people answer the door.  Father could have resolved the problem on day 1 by responding, “yes, my daughter was out by herself b/c . . . ” when (legitimate) questions were made.  

    Father apparently thinks he lives in the country of Bob, where state has no right to inquire as to welfare of children, and he can do whatever he wants because it is his own damn business.  Is flipping out because State is now proceeding through formal court proceedings after he refuses to resolve matter informally.  Father is an extreme ideologue.  His willingness to intentionally and needlessly inflict misery on his family out of his libertarian(?), survivalist(?) principles makes me glad that the matter is to be heard by a court.  

    1. You know, I’m a pretty diehard libertarian, but you make a good point. I think one aspect of being a good libertarian is learning some lifestyle judo to deflect unwanted state advances. Barring the door isn’t really effective. 

      My dad was a prosecutor, and sometimes I have thought that the single most useful thing he ever taught me is how to talk to police.

      1. Lifestyle judo is a good term.  I’m going to refuse to let the police enter my home or search my car without a warrant, but I’m going to do it by saying “I’m sorry officer, but…” 

  26. This is the result of liberal progressive philosophy: many progressives assume that ‘others’ are too stupid/incompetent/religious to be trusted with raising their children, and the state should have final say in how children are raised.

    This is simply the logical conclusion of that.

      1. The belief that ‘society’ is something, a discrete entity, higher than the individuals in it. That people must act in the interests of ‘society,’ even if they feel that it contradicts their own interests.

        But the problem is, who exactly defines what ‘society’ wants?

        So we have this case, where the parents are clearly acting in what they feel are the best interests of their children, but somebody else feels are not in the best interests of society at large.

        1. You guys need to give Sasha a little more credit. I had this same horror story happen to me once:

          My 8-month-old used to have a real problem spilling milk so, naturally, I would use the Pear of Anguish to occasionally correct his behavior.

          Imagine my shock when CPS showed up out of the blue one day to take him away! I tried explaining to them that the concept of society was nebulous and personally defined, but those nanny-stating libtards were all like: “Obama! Yeah!”

        2. The situation is clearly out of control, but it’s not eeeevil ‘liberals’ who caused this, it’s a fuckwitted, authoritarian cop by the looks of it. And the guy whose child it is has quite demonstrably not handled the resulting shitstorm in the best way.

          My ex is a paediatric social worker, and I can assure you, given the horror stories, the stress, depression, tears and nightmares I saw her go through, there ARE people out there who are too stupid/incompetent/religious to look after their bloody kids. There are people who keep their kids in cellars. There are people who repeatedly rape and torture their kids. There are people who starve their kids to death. There are people who do not allow their kids life-saving medical treatments because of their fucking stupid religion.

          And there are a hugely underfunded, understaffed and overworked bunch of people whose job it is to try and sort it out. And it is very, very hard. And extremely dangerous. She was stabbed 18 times with a carving knife and left for dead because some fucker took exception to her authorising the removal of his personal little rape-toys he’d grown himself, so he tried to cut her in half. Presumptuous ‘liberal progressives’ my fucking arse.

          Note, please, that I completely understand that this case is a ludicrous overreaction, which appears to have been handled badly by everyone except the six-year-old, BUT you’re talking shit.

    1. The overwhelming majority of physical and sexual abuse of children is committed by their parents or with the assent of their parents.

      1. There are much more mundane risks to a child welfare than these, not least those associated with mental development. I’ve heard that before a certain point in development, children simply don’t have the cognitive ability to be allowed cross raods on their own, for example. Wish I had the study to hand, but I don’t.

        As with other things, picking the right time is a parents responsibility, picking an arbitrary time is not their right.

        1. Unfortunately, the arbitration as to when that time is appears to have been handled really fucking badly, no?

  27. “…mailing letters as elements of her homeschooling.”

    Hopefully, doing chores isn’t part of many of the elements of her homeschooling.  Reading and math would be nice.

    1. My kid has received instruction in the black art of mailing letters in his public kindergarten; although they have stopped short of an actual field trip to a post office.

    2. You’d probably be horrified that my elementary school taught us how to bow and curtsey and how to write a thank you note.

  28. Yo, I was taken away by the Department of Children and Families, at sixteen, and returned almost a year later.  I think it saved my life, actually.  

    If you are a parent, and a representative of the local child protective services is sitting with you in a room laying out “look, in order to protect what I believe are the best interests of your child, I need you to consent to X or Y or Z to maintain custody of your child.  If you won’t do any of that, I am going to need to open a formal prosecution of you for neglect, and I am going to have to pursue taking custody of the child” the correct answer is X or Y or Z, and consider suing for overreach maybe later.  Taking kids away from their parents is expensive and traumatic and difficult, and no one wants to do it unless there are no other options.  

    Regardless, then, of your personal beliefs about the safety of a particular course of action (for example, preventing your kid to travel a street unsupervised, or allowing to let your kid access mental health care), if that action is demanded by the state’s investigator, and that investigator believes (possibly based on data provided by experts) that that action is vital to your kid’s continued safety and/or continued survival, just fucking agree to do it.  

    As fallout from that court fight, multiple relatives of mine had their households undergo a state assessment for suitability as housing for a child.  Newsflash: an assessment is not, generally, a search of your property or an interrogation of its inhabitants.  It’s usually a tour of the property, no more in-depth than the kind of tour a potential subletter might do of an apartment (and mostly looking for obvious hazards, like filth and unsecured firearms).  That tour is followed by interview(s) with the people who live there, and the entire process is rarely longer than an hour.  The interviews contain such aggressive interrogation queries as “Do you keep drugs or weapons in the house?  How are they secured?  Are you afraid of anyone who lives here, or does anyone who lives here make you feel unsafe?”  

    Newsflash, if your kids are terrified of you, your kids hate you, and/or your kids will tell a social worker how much they wish you were dead at the actual drop of a hat, you have much bigger problems and much bigger failures as a parent than the social worker’s presence.  Also, your house won’t be considered safe, sorry but not sorry in the slightest.  Shock, horror, and totalitarianism indeed!  

    1. It sounds like your experience was quite a long way from “walking to the post office alone at age 6.”

      I am glad you were saved from a bad situation by CPS.  I’m sure CPS covers all the possible outcomes:  saving kids from bad situations, leaving kids in bad situations and errantly removing kids from good situations.  After all, CPS is an organization of people and people make mistakes.

    2.  Thanks for sharing this. I’ve volunteered with someone who had to be taken away from their parent. What’s worth noting is that in this case, the parent was at the other end of the spectrum, and telling them lies to make them scared of even going to school.

      In Ireland, where I live, we recently had a constitutional referendum on the rights of the child. There were a few changes, but essentially, it was abnout saying “a child has rights, just like a parent has, and both of these need to be considered in welfare cases”.

      Now, we did already have the usual systems for helping children out, but there were laws in place which made it hard to give a child the best possible life. To give one example, a child taken from it’s parents (and you have some idea of how extreme a situation that requires) could only be put up for adoption if it could be proven in court that the parents would not become capable of providing for the child before it turned 18. So loads of kids were in limbo, locked into the state system, instead of in a stable home. There were lots of other issues, and some real horror stories resulting form this previousw eakness in law.

      The referendum was passed, but there was a vocal opposition. It was a weird combination of religious fundamentalists and libertarians. The former saw it as a attack on the “family unit”, a catholic model where parents control their children and can’t be told how to do it. The latter were fundamentally opposed to people having their children taken away from them, in any context.

      Now Ireland can take better care of children who are at risk, and the vast majority are pretty happy about that.

      1. It was a weird combination of religious fundamentalists and libertarians.

        The two groups most likely to regard children as chattel property.

  29. Just out of curiosity – is the little girl white? 

    I live in a redominantly Mexican neighborhood and children her age routinely walk around unsupervised without any drama.

  30. In Japan, thousands and thousands of 6 yr old Tokyo kids go to school via the subway all by themselves every single day.

    1. That’s likely to be a journey in a group, under cctv surveillance. Not quite the same.

  31. I’m surprised there’s not more of a connection drawn between this and the supervision we’re expected to endure at the airport. When the process is complete, *everyplace* will feel like the airport, and to complain about it will be considered very rude if not an actual crime.

    Toss in the routine medical abuse we endure, and you’ve got a dystopian trifecta.

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