Little one protecting companies known as on household of 6-year-old marathoner

The Crawford family of Bellevue was reported to child protective services after news spread about their 6-year-old son participating in Cincinnati’s Flying Pig Marathon.

On Instagram, Ben and Kami Crawford said social workers came to their home Friday and interviewed their children.

Kentucky’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services confirmed complaints were made about the family.

“[Child protective services] follows up on all complaints that are reported to us,” the agency said in a statement Monday. “The cabinet cannot comment on matters that may be under investigation.”

What happened

The story of the Crawfords went viral after they made several Instagram posts saying their 6-year-old son, their youngest child, along with their five other children completed the Flying Pig Marathon with them.

Some runners criticized the decision saying that running long distances and the intense training required to do so can cause injuries and long-term health problems for young children. With the family’s high profile on social media, there were also accusations they were exploiting their children for attention.

The Crawfords said they saw people posting the number for child protective services on social media in an effort to get others to report them.

The Flying Pig Marathon was also accused of breaking its own rule which states runners for the full marathon must be 18 or older.

Marathon organizers said the decision was made because the Crawford family would have run the race anyway, saying they had “bandited” the race with their child in the past. Banditing is participating in a race without being registered.

Organizers said they felt the family, including the 6-year-old, needed the on-course support that comes with being registered.

After the controversy drew criticism for Olympians and got the attention of national and international media outlets, race organizer Iris Simpson Bush said it was not the best decision to allow them to participate. She also said the age restriction for the race would be strictly enforced in the future.

What the Crawfords say

Over the weekend, the Crawfords posted live videos on Instagram and an open letter outlining the experience of investigators coming to their house and responding to the criticism.

The couple said investigators told them they received seven complaints, but only one warranted investigation. They said that complaint accused them of dragging their son through the race as he cried.

The Crawfords said the boy did cry and there were hard moments, but they wanted to allow the boy to make his own decisions about whether he wanted to continue.

At the end of the race, the couple said the 6-year-old said he wanted to run faster, but he was holding hands with the rest of his family to get a picture as they all crossed the finish line.

Ben Crawford said when the investigators came to their house unannounced on Friday they separated the kids from him and his wife and interviewed them all. He said it was an hour-long process and that he believes the situation is over, but it will be weeks before they know for sure.

“We may not hear for another month or month-and-a-half that we’re totally in the clear,” Kami Crawford said in the video.

They said the experience was scary: “It feels like your kid could say one line and be taken away whether they are joking or real. That’s just the type of power you’re messing with.”

In their public letter, the Crawfords said the science about the risk to children is inconclusive citing articles from the National Library of Medicine, the Cleveland Clinic and the New York Times.

The couple’s 15-year-old daughter also wrote a letter to Olympian Kara Goucher who took to Twitter last week to say that a 6-year-old “cannot fathom” what a marathon will do them physically and does not realize they have the right to stop and should stop if they are struggling.

“When I ran my first marathon I was a few months older than my younger brother … is currently. I am 15 now,” the daughter wrote. “I would like to personally tell you that I WAS able to ‘fathom’ what the marathon would do to me physically. I was aware of my own body and needs at the time. It was my choice and my choice only. Running my first marathon at that age was one of the most empowering and beautiful experiences I had ever had.”

Since then, Ben Crawford and Goucher have exchanged tweets. Goucher said she wasn’t attacking the family and wasn’t questioning his parenting.

In Friday’s video, Ben Crawford said he didn’t fully understand what was motivating people to report them to child protective services. He said he wants to believe that people are not trying to ruin their lives and maybe legitimately afraid for his children, but asked, “where’s the line?”

“They can’t stand the fact that some people are different, and when they can’t make sense of it, they try and end it,” Crawford said. “I’m not even saying we have it right or we have it figured out. We’re just doing our way, and we make our YouTube channel to show people what the pros and cons are.”

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