Six weeks ago, I talked about a couple in Maryland who were in trouble with police and Child Protective Services because they let their ten- and six-year-old children walk home from a park by themselves. The response from authorities was excessive (at one point threatening to take the kids away), and the ruling they handed down this week is confusing.

Danielle and Alexander Meitiv were found responsible for unsubstantiated child neglect, which means, according to the Washington Post, “CPS will keep a file on the family for at least five years and leaves open the question of what would happen if the Meitiv children get reported again for walking without adult supervision.” The Meitivs are upset by the ruling, as I would be, and are trying to appeal.

If the neglect is unsubstantiated, that means it is unproved or unverified. In a court, if charges against you are unsubstantiated, the verdict is going to be not guilty. But in this case, the Meitivs have essentially been found “could be guilty,” and will have CPS looking over their shoulders for the next five years.

Instead of keeping an open file on parents who have done nothing wrong, authorities should follow Lenore Skenazy’s Free-Range Kids And Parents Bill Of Rights.