Re: Same Free-Range Kids Taken Into Custody Again

1

This sounds like they're trying to teach the parents a lesson by not turning over the kids immediately. The kids know how to call their parents, they know what time they were supposed to be home, so not calling the parents for several hours seems like it's just to show them, "See? You didn't know where your kids were for several hours, they could have been kidnapped and dead- scary isn't it?"
I am a little surprised the oldest doesn't carry a basic phone for emergencies of this sort (that's what our 10 year old has)- if it turns out he does and the cops wouldn't let him call home as soon as there was trouble then that's total bullshit.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 4:48 AM
horizontal rule
2

I would be unsurprised if the kid doesn't have a phone -- it seems like it might go with the parenting philosophy -- but if he does, you're right.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 4:52 AM
horizontal rule
3

Well, at least the kids are learning a valuable lesson that cops are not to be trusted.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 5:12 AM
horizontal rule
4

Something funny here, is that the parents are playing chicken with their kids' safety -- to be doing this sort of thing repeatedly, they have to trust that the cops and CPS won't actually hurt the kids (either physically or emotionally). They may believe that the non-cop risk of a bad outcome is low enough to be acceptable, but they know there's a significant chance of bad cop/CPS encounters if they keep letting their kids run free.

And on the one hand, if I think about it as playing chicken with the kids, I think the parents are wildly irresponsible. On the other hand, trusting the cops and CPS not to actually hurt your children for no good reason? Seems as if it should be something a parent could count on.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 5:15 AM
horizontal rule
5

On the phone point, I've heard from a friend of a friend that one of the reasons that wasn't an option was that they don't use phones on Shabbat. I think that wouldn't cover this Sunday since my Orthodox friends seemed to be back on facebook by then, but the first publicized incident was on a Friday evening I believe.

I'm confused because I thought they'd signed a safety plan last time but per the story it looks like that's what happened this time. It's because of the safety plan that they could be required to do things like not let the 10-year-old roam even if he's unambiguously old enough to do so legally.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 5:15 AM
horizontal rule
6

I thought the safety plan issue last time was to cover a weekend -- the incident happened on a Friday, and the authorities wanted the plan to cover at least the weekend until the case was further processed (and I thought it was an issue because the parents wouldn't sign). If there's a safety plan in place and it wasn't reported in this later story, that's very bad reporting.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 5:21 AM
horizontal rule
7

Here's the story I saw mentioning it:

They say that when CPS started its investigation, on the day of their children's walk from the park, Alexander Meitiv was asked to sign a form saying he would not leave the children unsupervised until CPS followed up. When he resisted, saying he wanted to talk to a lawyer, he was told that if he did not sign, the children would be removed, the Meitivs said.

It's not clear whether he signed, but it sounds like something that would not be in place after CPS followed up on the prior incident.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 5:24 AM
horizontal rule
8

3 is right. If they can afford it, I wonder if they'll move. Most places don't have this kind of problem.

This weekend I'm visiting a friend with two daughters those same ages (well, a couple months shy of those ages) and they walk home from school together every day. The rule is they're only allowed to cross the street when they're holding hands, and it was the goddamned cutest thing ever.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 5:28 AM
horizontal rule
9

If you carry a phone, couldn't you have a Shabbat Goy (and the police seem very highly goy to me) make the actual call for you?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 5:29 AM
horizontal rule
10

Anyway, I agree with OP.last.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 5:46 AM
horizontal rule
11

Shabbat Goy

Another case of Hebraic chauvinism trying to pretend that Yiddish never existed! As a child (and the grandson of immigrants), I never heard this term. It was always Shabbes Goy. What about tradition?

I cannot wait for the Hebrewphones to start insinuating substitutes for "Oy veys mere", "schmuck", "putz" and numerous other Yiddishisms!


Posted by: marcel | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 5:47 AM
horizontal rule
12

Shabby Goy. Because all the nice clothes are in the laundry on Saturday.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 5:49 AM
horizontal rule
13

Since Yiddish is closely related to German, how did the two meanings of schmuck diverge so much?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 5:57 AM
horizontal rule
14

And I still think the CPS side of this story would sound different, but maybe not. I definitely know of shady things CPS does in targeting people. (This is maybe where I should say that the odds we'll be asked to take a fourth child are higher again for reasons that have a bit of overlap with the OP.)


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 5:58 AM
horizontal rule
15

13: Schmuck doesn't mean dick in German?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 6:00 AM
horizontal rule
16

That's what I thought the first time I saw a sign like this and was rather shocked.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 6:02 AM
horizontal rule
17

how did the two meanings of schmuck diverge so much?

I always assumed it was a colloquial usage (cf. "family jewels") that came to overshadow the literal meaning. But that's just a guess.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 6:02 AM
horizontal rule
18

Is there any public confirmation that they're Orthodox enough to not use phones on the Sabbath? I'd be surprised -- stereotyping here, but if they were, I'd have expected some involvement from a rabbi or other community spokesperson weighing in on the last incident, and I didn't see anything like that.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 6:02 AM
horizontal rule
19

18: No, this is from private communication I've had with a foster parent friend who claims to be part of their larger community, but I have no way of verifying it and probably shouldn't have said anything.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 6:05 AM
horizontal rule
20

16: Sex toys, right?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 6:05 AM
horizontal rule
21

Well, the iPhone is 3% pork anyway.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 6:07 AM
horizontal rule
22

What does "putz" mean in German? Google says "plaster," but without any indication additional detail.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 6:11 AM
horizontal rule
23

I wonder if the same vindictive neighbor called in both times.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 6:25 AM
horizontal rule
24

That neighbor is a schmuck.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 6:27 AM
horizontal rule
25

I also think it was obscene of CPS not to let the parents know they had the kids as soon as they did, but I can also see things taking a long time on a Sunday evening, when the office wouldn't be open. You'd have to get whatever caseworker was on call to come out to the police station to pick up the kids, meanwhile talking to the supervisor on the case and presumably the judge involved or something, all of which can take a lot of time and phone tag. "Immediate" in child protective services means a whole lot of different things, IME.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 6:27 AM
horizontal rule
26

22: That's correct. It has a broader meaning than "plaster" in English, because it refers to both interior and exterior wall coatings, encompassing also what we would call stucco.

It's also a form of a verb meaning to scrub.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 6:29 AM
horizontal rule
27

23: I wouldn't be at all surprised, but that's also pretty typical for CPS complaints as far as I know.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 6:36 AM
horizontal rule
28

I said this in the other thread, but I'll say it here again. Requiring a six year-old to be accompanied is debatable. requiring it of a ten year-old is absurd.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 6:41 AM
horizontal rule
29

I suppose so. For good and ill, I think it would take something fairly unambiguous to get me to call CPS on somebody.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 6:42 AM
horizontal rule
30

29 to 27.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 6:43 AM
horizontal rule
31

14: While I agree that this is a real possibility, there's not a hint of anything more in anything published. I've been trying to come up with a story that makes CPS's behavior reasonable, and I can't make it work without completely unreported facts that are a big deal.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 6:43 AM
horizontal rule
32

29: Oh, I didn't mean I thought it was a good reason to call, just that a significant number of calls arise from vendettas and often are about what's going on between the adults involved more than anything directly related to the children.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 6:44 AM
horizontal rule
33

25: Is there a good excuse for the police not to call the family? I could see not releasing the kids until they got CPS involved, but not calling immediately seems cruel.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 6:46 AM
horizontal rule
34

24:
He gets too hungry for dinner at eight
Calls 911 when the kids are out late
Thinks free range parents are worthy of hate
That's why the neighbor is a schmuck.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 6:48 AM
horizontal rule
35

Seconding 28.

I haven't followed this story except through unfogged threads, but it sounds like CPS has allowed this to turn into some sort of weird personal grudge. I can't tell whether the parents are being deliberately provocative jerks somehow or whether CPS just defaulted to "You must respect mah authoriteh!" mode and are refusing to back off.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 6:52 AM
horizontal rule
36

33: I really don't know much about how police involvement works out. That strikes me as very odd for anything except something huge like major sex abuse or child pr0n, where they want to be able to catch the parents off guard.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 6:53 AM
horizontal rule
37

34 is great.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 6:55 AM
horizontal rule
38

The recording of the call to the police should be released.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 6:57 AM
horizontal rule
39

It has crossed my mind that maybe the missing piece of the story is that the kids are loud and obnoxious? That doesn't excuse the adults in the story, but it requires them to act like mature adults and ignore obnoxious behavior, which they are then not doing. Instead they're seeing it and thinking "These fucking parents need to keep those kids on a shorter leash, because they're misbehaving in public and annoying me."


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 7:00 AM
horizontal rule
40

Could be. If that were the case, I'd kind of expect the person who called them in either time to be telling the story publicly once it blew up -- if there were something to shame the parents with, it'd be a good story to tell.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 7:08 AM
horizontal rule
41

Bravo to 34.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 7:08 AM
horizontal rule
42

I looked around and found some family pictures -- while there's nothing I found showing the back of the father's head, so he might possibly be wearing a kippah, he's certainly not dressed ultra-Orthodox, and the mother isn't frum at all. I'd discount Sabbath observance entirely as a factor in the original incident, and of course it couldn't have anything to do with the later one, on a Sunday night. (Also, if they were that observant, the kids would have been home for Sabbath, wouldn't they?)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 7:33 AM
horizontal rule
43

3 wins the thread. But 4/6 don't track for me: you expect CPS to put the kids in a choke hold? I guess my privilege is showing; obviously a 10yo white kid has nothing to fear from the cops.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 7:46 AM
horizontal rule
44

If you didn't want to keep 'em locked up, why did you have kids in the first place?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 8:01 AM
horizontal rule
45

Emotional trauma is a thing -- shouldn't be a worry if everyone's being sane, but, e.g., a high pressure interrogation of the six year old with threats about being removed from her family? I'd call that an injury, and the way the case is being handled, it seems like a possibility. Removal from the parents is also possible, and could be not only upsetting but also unsafe.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 8:01 AM
horizontal rule
46

Show me on the map where your parents didn't touch you.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 8:08 AM
horizontal rule
47

FWIW it looks like this was about 3/4 of a mile from where the kids were picked up last time if I've followed the news accounts correctly, so probably not the same neighbor.

Also re: 39 etc. on what might have motivated these calls, as I think I mentioned before, I really don't think the call last time was that hard to imagine (though the follow-up certainly seems to have been nuts). Everyone seems to be imagining a walk home from the park on nice quiet tree-lined residential streets, but in fact where the kids were picked up last time was somewhere they'd have been crossing 6-8 lanes of heavy fast-moving traffic in a non-residential area. If I saw a 6-y-o there without an adult I think I'd have been alarmed enough to check on them--partly, yes, just because it's so unusual, but also I think I'd be genuinely worried about safety. Jumping to calling the cops instead of just making sure they're safe is a dickish/uncharitable (or lazy) move but not off-the-wall unreasonable like it might have been in a different context.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 8:13 AM
horizontal rule
48

There's not a year that goes by, not a year, that I don't read about some escalator accident involving some bastard kid which could have easily been avoided had some parent--I don't care which one--but some parent conditioned him to fear and respect that escalator!


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 8:43 AM
horizontal rule
49

I guess a more likely scenario is that this (non-)incident was called in by someone who recognized the kids from coverage of the first incident.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 8:48 AM
horizontal rule
50

I feel like what everyone in this story -- busybody neighbors, over-aggressive CPS employees, philosophically adamant and self-promoting "free range" parents, internet gawkers looking for a discussion topic -- need is a cleansing bath of fire and the righteous vengeance of a just God.


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 9:03 AM
horizontal rule
51

A cleansing bath of fire! That sounds relaxing! Why they don't offer that at my spa?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 9:16 AM
horizontal rule
52

51: Because there isn't a just god, duh!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 9:18 AM
horizontal rule
53

34 is delightful, and yes, the neighbor is a schmuck. Just like whoever called the cops when my daughters (AISHMHB, they were then three years old) were frolicking on the lawn next door. If you're really concerned about the kids, stop and assess the situation. Maybe you don't want to approach the kids directly (my daughters, frex, were naked at the time), but don't just call the cops and split if you think safety is a legitimate concern.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 9:22 AM
horizontal rule
54

the righteous vengeance of a just God.

Please, please, please if there is a God, at least let it be a merciful one. Ain't nobody sane looking for a just God.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 9:30 AM
horizontal rule
55

54: Well, some of use have been very good, and we would be very disappointed if others who have not been so virtuous wind up with the same reward.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 9:38 AM
horizontal rule
56

55: "some of us" not "some of use"! Ruined my own perfectly idiotic sentence!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 9:40 AM
horizontal rule
57

48: which could have easily been avoided had some parent--I don't care which one--but some parent conditioned him to fear and respect that escalator!

Reminds me of an NPR segment on the dark underbelly of the family farm (something like that). Topic in question was child labor on them, and in this case a kid who had lost their arm to some farm equipment. Mother's comment was approximately, "Well he sure learned to respect heavy machinery."

(Mentioned by me here before, I believe.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 9:52 AM
horizontal rule
58

57: Well, that wouldn't be the first Mallrats/NPR connection.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 10:14 AM
horizontal rule
59

I'm always a little suspicious of these stories. I don't live in Pleasantville, but it would be absolutely unheard of around here for someone to call the cops over kids playing in a park at 5:30. (I'd know -- we're across the street from the park and elementary aged kids are playing without adults around all the time.) So I tend to assume that, as with the first story, we're not hearing the whole story -- "oh, well, the walk home from the park was across a busy highway", like "by "park" we mean "landfill"."


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 11:22 AM
horizontal rule
60

One of the nicest (and largest) parks in our city was the former landfill.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 12:14 PM
horizontal rule
61

I'm with Cala. Something is clearly going on here beyond what is in the news stories. Hard to tell if it is genuinely irresponsible parenting, authoritarian authorities, busybody neighbors, religious prejudice, or what.

Regardless, I feel for the poor kids. It has to be scary to be picked up by the police and held for hours, even if it's ostensibly friendly.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 12:43 PM
horizontal rule
62

59: For the record, the park in question is only three blocks from here. I'm torn between saying, "Well, vigilance makes more sense around a six-lane highway, which is very close to where these kids were found," and on the other hand "'Very close' doesn't mean 'on' or 'under,' and anyways don't I normally bend over backward to avoid blaming the victim?"

I still want to know what "free-range" parents think is safe guidelines for independence. (Maybe it's out there and I haven't found it, but I didn't see it in the first page of Google hits, at least.) We have the 1979 standard codified. We have the CPS standard codified. (That article notes some vagueness around the details, and admittedly the threshold for police involvement is much lower because any busybody just has to call them, for all that people complain about CPS, they haven't done anything contrary to that.) Everywhere I see anyone talking about the Meitivs, I see them criticizing the police, CPS, the neighbors, everyone but the family. Fair enough, I agree, about the last incident I'd side with the parents, and about this one too although it sounds like there just has to be details missing.

But I want to know, if the CPS standard is wrong, what should we replace it with? The 1970s standard? Some midpoint? Something measured differently? Again, I feel guilty about this because it amounts to blaming the victim. But among other things, I'm trying to get ready to be a parent myself. What rule won't get me in trouble???


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 2:14 PM
horizontal rule
63

When you say the CPS standard, you mean the state law that they're misreading -- no children younger than 8 supervised by anyone younger than 13? (When I say 'misreading', the language of the law very clearly addresses children confined somewhere, not outdoors.)

If I had to draw the line somewhere precise, I guess I'd say no preschoolers unaccompanied in a public place; a preschooler accompanied by an older child (school-age) is fine if there's nothing about the situation other than their ages that indicates a problem.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 2:26 PM
horizontal rule
64

I'd worry much, much more about what the kid is going to do to you than what the authorities might. No bureaucracy conceived has ever had a set of demands as pointless and inscrutable as the most calm toddler ever.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 2:27 PM
horizontal rule
65

In terms of not getting in trouble, we relied on the kids' elementary school's rules, who allowed fourth graders to leave school unaccompanied and to supervise younger children, and figured that if it was okay with the school, no one else was going to bother us. But places where people drive, that probably doesn't work the same way. (We also took some comfort in having giant stolid children, who passed as older than they are.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 2:34 PM
horizontal rule
66

I'm totally against fourth graders driving younger children anywhere.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 2:38 PM
horizontal rule
67

Huh, I wonder how tall these kids are.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 2:38 PM
horizontal rule
68

Our standard is 3rd grade. And I think the rule about how far a bus stop can be from your home is half a mile (with no crossing of certain high-traffic streets allowed- if a bus stop if right across the busy street from you, they have to provide a stop on your side.)


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 2:40 PM
horizontal rule
69

My neighborhood has crossing guards to help the younger kids across the street and to watch them while waiting for the bus. Watching her (it's always the same woman at the one closest to me) yell at a guy who honked at the car in front of him when that car was stopped for her and two little kids to cross the street was one of the highlights of that month for me.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 2:44 PM
horizontal rule
70

We have the same system, guards at major stops and crossings near schools. But one day last year there was an actual cop on a motorcycle sitting there waiting for the bus to come, and pulling people over who didn't stop for the bus. Talking to him while waiting, he completely expected to bust someone every time a bus came (each stop has a bus that serves different schools so 8 or so buses will come to a given stop in one morning)


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 2:48 PM
horizontal rule
71

63
When you say the CPS standard, you mean the state law that they're misreading

Yeah, I knew there was a problem with that comment, but I logged off my computer 30 seconds after I hit "Post." I don't know why I start most of my comments after 4:30 p.m. on weekdays.

I was basically trying to say that at least they're trying to follow the most unambiguous standard they have - they're misapplying it, but no one has pointed out a clearer standard they should be applying, as far as I know.

A reasonable person might say "let kids go free when they can take care of themselves." But the minute anyone assumes that a kid can do that and they're wrong for any reason, it's the adult's fault, and we're right back to this situation.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 04-13-15 6:05 PM
horizontal rule
72

I liked this:

By enforcing surveillance as the normative form of care, the state effectively erases the significance of all other forms of care. Parents might teach their children nothing of value, no moral standards, no self-discipline, no compassion for others -- but as long as those children are incessantly observed, then according to the state's standards the parents of those children are good parents. And they are good because they are training their children to accept a lifetime of passive acceptance of surveillance.

The whole thing is short and snappy.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 04-14-15 11:44 AM
horizontal rule
73

62: Right, this is a tricky thing. Around here there's been an Outrage over a dad given a warning by the city that if he did not take down the cardboard fort that he built for his kids after 14 days, he'd face a fine. Fox News and everything. But no one has been able to answer the question: if the city code is to fine people if they leave trash in their yard for two weeks, and that is bad, then what should the rule be? "Piles of cardboard in your yard are fine as long as you're recognized as a good dad" doesn't strike me as perhaps the best law.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04-14-15 12:05 PM
horizontal rule
74

"Piles of cardboard in your yard for some, miniature American flags for others."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-14-15 12:06 PM
horizontal rule
75

Aren't those things usually phrased as bans on eyesores? so the fort is ok, but the rotting fort that got rained on all week is not ok?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-14-15 12:07 PM
horizontal rule
76

Honestly, I don't think the law in the Maryland case is particularly crazy, or it wouldn't be if it were accompanied by a social norm that said that if you're concerned enough about the safety of a child to call the authorities, you should be concerned enough to stay with the child until the authorities arrive.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04-14-15 12:10 PM
horizontal rule
77

Yeah, it seems to be a case of an overzealous neighbor, so the enforcement guy showed up and said "make sure it's down in two weeks." I'm... not really seeing the reason this needed to go viral about the horrible effects of state power.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04-14-15 12:13 PM
horizontal rule
78

If you can keep a cardboard fort outdoors and intact for two weeks, you're probably not living somewhere with enough water.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-14-15 12:19 PM
horizontal rule
79

78: So you're saying that if the cardboard fort gets wet then it should be torn down as an eyesore.

But if the fort stays dry, the whole community should be destroyed and the people forced to relocate to somewhere fit for human habitation.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-14-15 12:22 PM
horizontal rule
80

It's sort of the opposite of a canary in a coal mine.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-14-15 12:24 PM
horizontal rule
81

It's more like the green M&Ms at the Van Halen concert. No one eats soggy M&Ms.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-14-15 12:25 PM
horizontal rule
82

79: I remember that Bible story.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04-14-15 1:15 PM
horizontal rule
83

I haven't listened to this because I don't care enough and it looks long, but police have released the 911 call. Interestingly, part of the issue is that the caller guessed the 10-year-old was much younger than he was, which is kind of the flipside of all these recent studies that black kids get assumed to be older than they are.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 5:32 AM
horizontal rule
84

My son is constantly assumed to be much younger than he is. This probably isn't a bad thing, because he likes to repeat the word "butt".


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 5:46 AM
horizontal rule
85

Nothing interesting on the call. The caller doesn't say anything implying a concrete reason for worrying about the kids barring his estimate of their ages (and he says their clothes are dirty).


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 5:50 AM
horizontal rule
86

84: I hated it, because I was 8 or so, and the waitresses wouldn't give me a menu, because they thought I couldn't read.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 5:53 AM
horizontal rule
87

All the nice restaurants give eight-year-old kids paper menus with puzzles and games printed on them.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 6:04 AM
horizontal rule
88

Last week someone thought my wife was our kid's oldest sister. When I first met her dad she convinced me that he was her older brother. Their family tends to look young.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 6:16 AM
horizontal rule
89

My wife is older than I am by almost a year but she looks much younger. I'm rarely carded anymore but if she's present I might be, and she almost always is carded when on her own. She was even carded going to a bar in England when she was 26 (and of course she left her ID at the hotel since she had never needed it before). Not entirely convinced she isn't a vampire or Lazarus Long.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 6:26 AM
horizontal rule
90

Several years back, I was taking care of my grandmother after a half-hip replacement. I mentioned to the social worker/care coordinator that I'd be leaving, but my "little sister" would be there. The social worker looked truly alarmed and said, "You sister is what, 16? I don't think she can handle these demands." I quickly explained that my sister was 26. I have no idea how old she thought I was. I guess I phrased it poorly, but I spent the whole week there with people underestimating my grandmother's age, my aunt's age, and my age by large margins.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 6:31 AM
horizontal rule
91

A really decent restaurant would have adults menus with similar things printed on the back. A quick crossword, say, or an essay by Neal Ascherson, or a short story. Instead I am left with nothing to do but make conversation with people.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 6:32 AM
horizontal rule
92

A while back, I called a small boy someone's grandson was it was his son. In my defense, there's no way the guy wasn't at least 60.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 6:34 AM
horizontal rule
93

91: If you have cell phone, you can comment here.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 6:34 AM
horizontal rule
94

93: but using a mobile phone at table is rude.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 6:36 AM
horizontal rule
95

That's why I always sit at the bar.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 6:36 AM
horizontal rule
96

And have a little note on the back of my phone that says, "If you can see this, you are boring."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 6:37 AM
horizontal rule
97

Nice.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 6:43 AM
horizontal rule
98

Well, my dad didn't like it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 7:21 AM
horizontal rule
99

I guess I phrased it poorly, but I spent the whole week there with people underestimating my grandmother's age, my aunt's age, and my age by large margins.

Are you sure your family doesn't project some kind of time dilation field?


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 7:37 AM
horizontal rule
100

More than any ordinarily massive body, I mean.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 7:38 AM
horizontal rule
101

Nothing interesting on the call.

Well, the call confirms that both caller and the 911 call center person are horrible people who should be ashamed of themselves. The kids come up and ask to play with the guy's dog, and then wander off, and he's concerned enough to call 911 and follow them for 7 minutes while on the phone, but he never thinks to just fucking talk to the kids and ask if they're okay, if their parents know where they are, etc. And the call center person also never suggests this! What made this particularly absurd was that when the cops finally do show up, the call center person tells the caller to walk over and talk to the cops.

Just depressing as hell. I'm willing to cut the call center operator some slack in that they might well not have much discretion, but the caller... Christ, what an asshole.

And yes, I get that maybe he was afraid that someone might mistake him for a pedophile or whatever, but, uh, following the kids for 7 minutes without talking to them is way creepier.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 7:44 AM
horizontal rule
102

If he was a pedophile, then the kids were in danger.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 7:54 AM
horizontal rule
103

I read 82 as being to 81 and was amused.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 7:54 AM
horizontal rule
104

101: I agree the caller was a serious jackass for not just asking the kids what was up (the operator did ask him whether he did so; I very much doubt she had the discretion to ask that he do so) but I thought following them was a mitigating factor suggesting he really was concerned. A genuinely horrible person would have called it in and just gone about his business. So I lean toward clueless but not horrible.

And on the subject of genuinely horrible people, it looks like a schmibertarian-friendly elite law firm has stepped in with what is surely pro bono representation, to sue the County/CPS.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 8:12 AM
horizontal rule
105

101 seems harsh. He explicitly rules out talking to them because he doesn't want to scare them, and in doing so, I think he's right in line with another new-ish cultural norm, which is non-interaction with other people's kids.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 8:25 AM
horizontal rule
106

He explicitly rules out talking to them because he doesn't want to scare them,

That strikes me as a totally bullshit rationalization. He honestly thinks having the fucking cops pull up and interrogate them will be less scary? Of course not; I have a hard time believing that *anyone* could be stupid enough to believe that.

I agree that he was afraid of violating the new "non-interaction with other people's kids" norm, but that's a totally different from "didn't want to scare them", and in fact diametrically opposed to it in this case, when the alternative is *cops with guns* interrogating them.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 8:31 AM
horizontal rule
107

The question is simply: at what age can children successfully navigate on their own in the world? No one anywhere (I hope) would call the police about a 13-year old walking around town unaccompanied; almost everyone would (or at least should) call the police about a three year old doing the same (at least if it became apparent that the parents were nowhere around and the child's home was not very nearby--even if the kid seemed happy and not in distress). In between those ages, lines are greyer and people will reasonably make different judgments. We can either say that we trust parents to make these decisions for their own kids (even if we personally think they are being highly irresponsible), in which case the police should call the parents about the three year old and possibly help the kid get home, but shouldn't punish the parents with legal sanctions, or we can have some bright lines like a certain age below which kids are not okay to be unaccompanied. I personally don't think I would like society's judgment if we went the latter route (I think I'd personally pick a lower age to give kids more freedom), but at least the rules would be clear. The current situation, where there potentially severe legal consequences but no clear rules, is flatly ridiculous.

I don't care if they are schmibertarian-friendly; the law firm taking this case pro bono is doing a good thing.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 8:32 AM
horizontal rule
108

He explicitly rules out talking to them because he doesn't want to scare them,

Except didn't they affirmatively talk to him first, asking if they could pet his dog? At which point it's a little bizarre of him to think that his talking to them would frighten them.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 8:33 AM
horizontal rule
109

...new-ish cultural norm, which is non-interaction with other people's kids.

I hate this so much. I see a lost kid in the store and I'm scared to help because I don't want to spend hours explaining to a cop that I'm not a pedophile, and heaven forbid some overzealous prosecutor should get my case. So I just stand there and watch the kid cry his little heart out like I'm some kind of robotic bastard. Actually my reaction is to look for a woman to handle the problem, since she's vastly less likely to get the sex offender treatment. It still sucks, though.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 8:33 AM
horizontal rule
110

another new-ish cultural norm, which is non-interaction with other people's kids

I don't think that norm applies if the kids' parents aren't around.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 8:35 AM
horizontal rule
111

I'm not just being argumentative, but my kids would, I think, be less freaked out by cops than strangers, because cops are in some way known to them and they think of cops as the good guys. Guns are just one way in which cops are kind of cool. Now, that might not be true for the kids in question, given their interactions with the authorities, but the caller can't know that.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 8:35 AM
horizontal rule
112

The current situation, where there potentially severe legal consequences but no clear rules, is flatly ridiculous.

This.

There are two separate issues, and I'm agreeing with Urple on both. First, I think the age at which kids are fine out on their own is lower than the Silver Spring police/CPS do.

But second, if there's a bright line rule that the police/CPS are applying, then they need to admit that. If it is per se a problem for a ten and a six year old to be out alone, then the earlier investigation for child neglect should have been substantiated. I still think any real consequences would be nuts, but it's clear what happened and that it happened through the purposeful intent of the parents -- if what the parents did purposefully is a violation of law, then they should have been told that.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 8:39 AM
horizontal rule
113

109: Is forty years ago still new-ish? Getting my ex-wife or the DE to talk to a crying lost kid was the way I handled that. The pedophiledemonickidnapperpanic has been going on for quite some time.


Posted by: biohazard | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 8:42 AM
horizontal rule
114

109: I hate it, too. I totally talk to and make faces at kids I see out and about. However, I tried to talk the boyfriend into coaching youth hockey (which he'd love and be really good at), but he decided it's creepy to be an unmarried, childless guy coaching youth sports.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 8:42 AM
horizontal rule
115

it's a little bizarre of him to think that his talking to them would frighten them

Not really. Kids asking to pet your dog and you saying yes isn't really the same as you then continuing the conversation with the kids on your own initiative. I completely understand the guy's reluctance (I don't share it; I feel like having kids gives me some license to address other kids, but before I had kids, I was much more reluctant).


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 8:43 AM
horizontal rule
116

As LB reminded us, the fact that they already asked about petting the dog makes his "didn't want to scare them" excuse extra bullshit. Nope, I'm going to continue to bask in my contempt of this dude.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 8:45 AM
horizontal rule
117

115: Nah, I still think I'm right. He might have been reluctant because he was afraid of accusations of being a pedophile/kidnapper whatever from other adults (and I'm not saying he's completely unjustified in that fear), but if they spoke to him, he really should know that his speaking to them wouldn't be traumatic.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 8:48 AM
horizontal rule
118

Oh, I think "I don't want to scare them" can be a euphemism for "I don't want to seem creepy," particularly when you're talking to the authorities and don't want to provoke a "why, are you a creep?" response. I don't read "scare them" all that literally.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 8:51 AM
horizontal rule
119

However, I tried to talk the boyfriend into coaching youth hockey (which he'd love and be really good at), but he decided it's creepy to be an unmarried, childless guy coaching youth sports.

I can't find the link, but I hypothesized somewhere in TFA that we might be past a tipping point where the disinclination of non-pedophiles to seem creepy leads to certain roles (youth wrestling coach, scoutmaster) becoming majority pedophile. (Actually, that's a stronger claim than I made. My claim was that we might be at a point where it is prima facie reasonable to suspect that someone in that role might be a pedophile.)


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 8:55 AM
horizontal rule
120

pedophiledemonickidnapperpanic
I had real trouble parsing this. Pedophiled monkey? Ick kidnapper? Nap panic?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 8:56 AM
horizontal rule
121

Yesterday while watching the two older kids play baseball I let the two younger kids wander around the playground next to the field. Two year old girl made friends with a tall boy (13? 14?) practicing his slam dunks, he tried showing off to her then rolling the ball to her, not knowing I was watching. I filmed some of their interaction because it was very cute (which I guess makes me the creep.) Then her 5 year old brother came over and tried to shoot a basketball and it landed on her head and made her cry even though her new friend tried to keep it from hitting her. Big kid said to 5 year old, "Is that your sister? I tried to protect her!"


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 9:01 AM
horizontal rule
122

120: Didn't you also see Monica and wonder what she had to do with this?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 9:01 AM
horizontal rule
123

Who has two thumbs and just got Proc Report to do 95% of what he wanted it to do?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 9:10 AM
horizontal rule
124

+ 'OT:'


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 9:11 AM
horizontal rule
125

Who has two thumbs and just got Proc Report to do 95% of what he wanted it to doOT:?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 9:16 AM
horizontal rule
126

Just Doot.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 9:19 AM
horizontal rule
127

You got it to sing scat?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 9:19 AM
horizontal rule
128

I can't find the link,

I've lost all respect for you.

I do hope we're not at the point yet where over-30 childless guys can't coach or mentor kids without seeming creepy, but the boyfriend definitely thinks we are. I'd like to think that parents would decide creepiness on a case-by-case basis.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 9:50 AM
horizontal rule
129

Maybe you could have a service where you rent kids from their parents to make an appearance with you so you're not considered creepy. Sharing economy!


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 9:55 AM
horizontal rule
130

Not buying any interpretation by which, "Hey, are you kids OK? I don't see your folks around" is a worse course than 911. I don't care that white kids are raised to think cops are heroes in blue, I don't care that every male older than 10 is a suspected pedophile, there was nothing about the situation that makes a 2 sentence interaction a problem but cops in a cruiser just fine.

Now, if the kids had said, "We're scared and alone, can you drive us home?", then the guy would rightly want no part of that (which is societally fucked up, but individually reasonable). But this? Stupid/nuts.

In an ideal world, the call center person would have just repeated, "I don't understand the problem. Can you explain the situation again?" until the guy clued in*, but I get why this is basically never the job of call center personnel ("Gunshots happen all the time, sir, I wouldn't worry about it").

*"There are these weird rubber slings hanging by chains from a sort of pipe structure, and now the kids are OHMYGOD THEY'RE KICKING THEIR LEGS AND SHRIEKING OHGOD SEND HELP!!!!!"


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 10:00 AM
horizontal rule
131

I've lost all respect for you.

Will this help restore me to your favor?


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 10:04 AM
horizontal rule
132

I don't see why the parents couldn't have trained the ten year old to say "we're on our way home, we live up the street, we're fine" to strangers, which I suspect may have diffused this problem. Since this is the internet, I can say that I suspect these parents of being annoying ideologues who are into using their kids to make a quasi-political point, which is lame even if busybody neighbors/social conventions/overaggressive CPS people are also lame. That they are willing to take this to lawsuit level confirms this interpretation. Yes, without these kinds of ideologues I guess you don't see change but I'm going to reasonably speculate that they are super annoying.

As for busybody neighbor, sure, the right thing to do is to just ask for some details, which as per above the kids need to be well trained enough to provide. That much I agree with completely. But if the guy does have a reasonable suspicion that the kids aren't OK -- either because they look to young, seem neglected, whatever -- then calling appropriate authorities is in this day and age pretty much the only option. Is he supposed to hang out with the kids for an hour or drive them home, and face the inevitable wrath from the parents, and then have to explain that to the authorities? No. I also don't understand the "CPS shouldn't look into it" response. Sure they shouldn't have detained them, but if you get a reasonably credible call about young kids who seem lost, what are you supposed to do.


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 12:10 PM
horizontal rule
133

LB, istm that neither MCPD nor CPS are monoliths here, and individual employees want to take a harder line than their supervisors, in the case of these kids. But the supervisors can't articulate a bright line that won't get them in trouble when the officers/social workers fail to intervene with some other kids, who might not have been as well prepared to be unsupervised.

No police officer is going to get in trouble for taking the kids, so, just like the caller who faces no adverse consequence from making what turns out to be a false alarm, the incentives go the wrong way.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 12:14 PM
horizontal rule
134

My brother trained himself to respond to "How are you?" with "Fine til you came along." I suspect that would work.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 12:14 PM
horizontal rule
135

In retrospect, I can now imagine how my mom felt that he managed to learn this just before going to a wedding reception.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 12:16 PM
horizontal rule
136

Can't believe the diffused/defused error I made. Blame the phone!


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 12:17 PM
horizontal rule
137

I seem to recall that the first article about these parents said that they *had* trained their kids to say that--the problem is this case lies with the caller, who didn't ask. What, the kids are supposed to, unprompted, announce to every adult they see that they're fine, please don't call the police?


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 12:24 PM
horizontal rule
138

Yes, without these kinds of ideologues I guess you don't see change but I'm going to reasonably speculate that they are super annoying.

This is the cousin to my unfounded suspicion that the kids are also super annoying and meddlesome neighbors are feeling punitive rather than concerned.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 12:24 PM
horizontal rule
139

132: Are you sure the parents hadn't? According to an article about the incident back in January, the kids normally carried around with them a laminated card saying that their parents allow them to be out unattended. (Part of the problem in that case was that they'd forgotten it at home that day. For better or for worse, I don't see any mention of it in articles about this recent event.) Also, I'd assume a 10-year-old could say that even without being trained to, and probably would say it (or something mouthier) unless the parents had trained him not to. So this theory doesn't hold up unless you're really imputing a lot of ill will to the parents.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 12:28 PM
horizontal rule
140

Further to 133 and to Urple/LB, you're never going to have a bright-line rule that definitively cuts off intervention. "Over 11 with a kid over 5 by themselves means we don't ever investigate and you can do what you want regardless of circumstances" is just not happening. At most you would have rules as to what is definitively not OK -- eg its presumptively neglect to have a kid under 7 more than 1000 feet from home without adult supervision; for older kids you need some greater degree of evidence of neglect. But that still wouldn't create an automatic "it's OK" rule for older kids who are (reasonably) believed to be under some kind of distress. As a practical matter you're always going to have situations in which authorities need to make judgment calls based on prevailing norms and information provided by third parties, not bright-line rules.


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 12:29 PM
horizontal rule
141

132: I haven't been following the case closely, but did the officer call the parents or have the option to drive the kids home? The lack of a bright line is a problem, but I think I'd be a lot less concerned about this case if the kids had been picked up and driven home, even if they probably were fine on their own.

I'm very tired of the mandatory two-minutes outrage, especially when it's contradictory.
Case 1): cops called in scenic SLC for four-year-old being left alone in running car while mom ran a quick errand at the convenience store. Outrage! How dare the state! Back in my day we rode in the rear window with the Kleenex box! Nanny state!
Case 2) dad hops out of car for quick 7/11 trip, leaves the engine running on a cold morning, homeless woman steals car, three-year-old is trapped in carseat.* Outrage! What a bad dad! Take his child away! I would never leave my child alone in a car even for a second until said child was ready to go to college because I am RESPONSIBLE.

What the hell are we supposed to do?


*The thief abandoned the car at a cupcake shop, where the store owner, who heard the Amber alert, noticed the car that had been sitting in the lot for a while matched the description, went out, checked the license plate, I assume had a small heart attack when she saw it matched, opened the car, removed the terrified kid, went back in the shop, locked the door, and called the cops.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 12:33 PM
horizontal rule
142

Given the circumstances, where these kids are out by themselves in an environment where clearly no other kids are out by themselves, I do think it's incumbent on the parents to have their kids make clear to all adults they encounter that they're OK. They can wear the goddamn laminate cards around their necks if they want to. If you want to directly challenge existing norms without causing friction for your kids, you had better put a lot of time and effort into clearly signalling to adults that this is what you're doing and that your kids are fine. I understand that the parents don't think that they *should* have to do this but if they're willing to use their kids as a form of effective civil disobedience they shouldn't be surprised if the kids get into conflict-laden situations as a result.


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 12:35 PM
horizontal rule
143

They can wear the goddamn laminate cards around their necks if they want to.

Just get a sharpie and write over the "I have a medical condition."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 12:40 PM
horizontal rule
144

I was at the playground with Φ one day when a five-year-old girl started playing with us. She'd wandered over from her house nearby and was pretty articulate about it, and she liked Φ, so I didn't worry too much. Then a two-year-old girl started playing with us. I asked us where her parents were. She didn't know. I asked where she lived. She said, "aqui cerca." The five-year-old said "I bet her parents will come find her here, this is the first place my parents look when they don't know where I am." I hung out with the two of them (plus Φ) for about fifteen minutes before the two-year-old's dad wandered over from the soccer game he was watching to get her.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 12:42 PM
horizontal rule
145

They can certainly be trained to tell the police officers that. And maybe they did.

The 911 operator should have asked if the kids were lost or upset.

The officer should have taken them home.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 12:52 PM
horizontal rule
146

older kids who are (reasonably) believed to be under some kind of distress

"(reasonably)" is doing a lot of work there.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 12:53 PM
horizontal rule
147

Just a few days ago I drove a kid (and his siblings) home from a park after he twisted his ankle and couldn't walk home. Of course it occurred to me that it could be a problem (my wife had them try to call their mom for an ok, but there was no answer), but what are you going to do? I guess it would have been awesome to get a fire truck out for a sprained ankle, but then he'd probably get a bill.

During Spring Break, we were at an indoor play space at the insanely crowded Shedd Aquarium, when a boy around two wandering off crying. A few of us grown-ups followed him with our eyes to see if he'd find a parent, but he didn't. No one went after him, so I did (leaving my own children! bad dad!) until we found his parents.

Conclusion: Little boys are trusting and have such soft skin.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 1:10 PM
horizontal rule
148

Hadn't actually read any article on this until now, but the cops claim that they found the kids in a parking garage where they were being "eyed"* by a homeless guy. ISTM the parents could have taught the kids to either (a) play at the park or (b) walk purposefully and directly home. As well as having a story to tell the cops.

*OK, this made me suspicious of the police report but just roll with it.


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 1:24 PM
horizontal rule
149

140: I completely agree that you're never going to have a bright line rule that cuts off any intervention -- if there seems to be a problematic situation, people will have to use their judgment. What's bothering me is that (from the reporting) we're looking at repeated events where there's no indication at all of a problem other than the kids' ages, so intervention only makes sense if there's a bright line rule that says that kids that age are never out unaccompanied.

I wouldn't be particularly bothered if someone called the cops and they showed up and checked whether there was any problem. But in the absence of a problem other than being outdoors without a grownup while ten and six, at that point there should be only two possibilities: (1) the cops and CPS back off, recognizing the lack of a problem, or (2) the cops and CPS communicate that it is per se neglectful to allow a ten and a six year old outdoors without an adult. (Is is possible there was some other problem? Sure. But there's nothing in the reporting, or in the 911 call, indicating that to have been the case.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 1:29 PM
horizontal rule
150

I just did some exploring on Google Maps and I think I see at least part of what the problem was. The park that they were at is suitably bucolic and suburban. But the spot that they were picked up at by the cops -- we just have a street, but it's clear how they'd have to go from the park to get to that street -- is a heavily urbanized, true downtown area with a lot of traffic. It looks like to get from the park to home the kids had to walk through this downtown, non-residential, developed, traffic-filled area. I can definitely see how it would seem weird to see two kids (particularly if you assumed the oldest was no more than 8, as the caller did here) wandering through that area unattended. Still doesn't justify not checking in carefully to make sure they're OK before calling the cops; probably doesn't justify the amount of time the kids were detained, certainly not before calling the parents. But it's pretty different than the image that (at least I) had in mind of kids walking a few blocks through a streetcar-suburb residential area from a park on the way home.


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 1:38 PM
horizontal rule
151

E.g. here's an image of where they were, and the cops' claim is that they were found in a parking garage somewhere on this street in this neighborhood.


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 1:41 PM
horizontal rule
152

Boy, does that image not make the point that obviously it would be weird to see kids on the street there to me. It looks like a perfectly nice street with a sidewalk. (The 'parking garage' bit is odd, but I kind of figure that's heavily spun.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 1:44 PM
horizontal rule
153

There's a Sprint store. Discount wireless carriers are basically the same as homelessness.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 1:46 PM
horizontal rule
154

(Heavily spun partially because it wasn't mentioned by the 911 caller. So, maybe the 911 caller called it in because they were walking down the sidewalk, and coincidentally by the the time the cops got there the kids were in a dank, deserted garage being menaced by a scary homeless man, but it wouldn't be my first guess.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 1:47 PM
horizontal rule
155

Keep in mind that unlike Manhattan those buildings almost certainly aren't residential buildings where a kid might live; it's a real downtown, non-residential commercial area that they're walking through unsupervised.


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 1:48 PM
horizontal rule
156

152: I'm well acquainted with the area, and I agree that it's not inherently unsafe for kids (they weren't in a real crazy high-traffic area; if I followed the call correctly they were heading to one, but obviously the caller didn't know that when he called). But it is a decidedly non-resdiential area, and from the call it sounded like they were headed away from the nearest residential area. There's not a lot of pedestrian traffic of any kind around there (less than you'd expect from the picture, but it's still pretty car centric for they've been trying for years to make into a more walkable area) and if I saw what I took to be a 7/8-y-o and a 6-y-o there, I'd be worried that they were lost or had wandered off from their parents or something. Not major distress, but enough that I wouldn't want to ignore it.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 1:51 PM
horizontal rule
157

Unlike Manhattan it's a real downtown?

I mean, I hear you, non-residential, but I don't see how that makes it a safety issue. (Actually, my gut reaction is that commercial streets are often safer for pedestrians than residential streets, because there are more people around.) They seem to have been no more than a short walk from a residential area, and I don't see what about the street would make you worry for a child you saw there. (I get the "That's odd, you don't see kids alone around here much," reaction, and I could see that sparking concern, but not anything that a kid shouldn't have been able to dispel by telling a concerned bystander or investigating cop that things were fine.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 1:56 PM
horizontal rule
158

I'd assume that a younger kid who was in a non-residential commercial area was not simply walking a few blocks from a place like a park, but was probably lost or had wandered off from parents, because it's not the kind of place that kids (at least before 12, 13 or so) are walking around in alone or have reason to be in alone, at least in most places.


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 2:00 PM
horizontal rule
159

What if the kid were making a commercial transaction?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 2:02 PM
horizontal rule
160

Again, that gets you to maybe asking the kid, or calling the cops if you're super uptight and they ask the kid, but doesn't do anything to explain why the cops got CPS involved. The commercial street might make it weirder to an observer, but once a judgment is being made about danger and neglect, I don't see it changing the situation.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 2:03 PM
horizontal rule
161

159: Oh, right, as if children are allowed to touch money. It has germs on it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 2:04 PM
horizontal rule
162

Well, I assume that, unless they're lying on the report, the cops got CPS involved because they found the kids in a parking garage in an area where kids aren't usually wandering around, and wondered (perhaps reasonably given prevailing social norms) whether these kids were actually being neglected. I agree that the right thing to do would have been to simply drive the kids home, but I don't think the parents can be justifiably shocked that their decision to let their kids wander unattended through a commercial area where kids aren't usually wandering around unattended provoked a strong reaction from authorities not used to seeing younger kids alone in that area.


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 2:10 PM
horizontal rule
163

I don't think the parents can be justifiably shocked that their decision to let their kids wander unattended through a commercial area where kids aren't usually wandering around unattended provoked a strong reaction from authorities not used to seeing younger kids alone in that area

I doubt they're shocked in the sense of being surprised that the police overreacted -- the police have done it before. But just because bad behavior is unsurprising doesn't make it excusable.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 2:17 PM
horizontal rule
164

All I mean is that the parents were either deliberately or recklessly setting their kids up for some similar kind of confrontation with police/CPS/neighbors, apparently to make a political statement. Which is fine I guess if you deeply believe in the political statement but makes clear that the parents are ideologues.


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 2:25 PM
horizontal rule
165

See my 4 -- that is, I mostly agree with you. Although 'political statement' sounds a bit off to me -- they want to live their life in a particular way that they think should be permitted by society, and are willing to butt heads with the cops and CPS to do it.

"Political statement" sounds as if they'd stop letting the kids out alone if they thought it didn't bother anyone -- that the whole point is the confrontation -- and I think that's wrong.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-15 2:29 PM
horizontal rule