Unaccompanied At Hannah Montana
In a city in which some parents are so wildly overprotective that they wouldn't let their 16-year-olds ride the Metro by themselves and other parents are so irresponsible that they let their kids roam the city at night while they're still in elementary school, it's hard to find much consensus on the right amounts of supervision and independence.
But when some strikingly little kids showed up at this week's Hannah Montana concert having made their way to downtown's Abe Pollin Center without adult accompaniment, some observers were shocked--both by the idea that these kids' parents let them do this, and by the fact that the arena lets little kids in without adult supervision.
On the Penn Quarter Living blog, a neighbor of the arena wonders "What parent would send their sub-13-year-old daughters into Metro DC unsupervised?"
On the Metro on her way home from work, the blogger writes, she
"noticed a group of little girls near the rear of the car. The five girls were dressed from head-to-toe in Hannah Montana regalia, and sobbing their eyes out. Seeing no adult in sight, I approached the girls and asked if I could help. The eldest girl (who was 13) explained that they were on their way to the Hannah Montana concert at the Verizon Center and that they were lost. I offered to help them find their way, but demanded to know where their parents were. Apparently, tickets to the concert being scarce, their parents had bought them one way tickets on Metro and sent them to the concert unescorted."
As someone who sent his daughter to a summer day camp on Capitol Hill each morning by subway--with one of her friends--when they were 12, I'm fully in favor of teaching kids from a pretty young age how to navigate the city and fend for themselves. But to my mind, there's a significant difference between, on one hand, a quick, easy trip via Metro from one station to another with responsible adults watching over the kids at both ends of the journey, and on the other hand, a multi-hour expedition including travel to places unknown and a concert with 16,000 strangers.
Interestingly, in many other countries, concert venues and sports facilities have a strict ban on attendance by any unaccompanied minors under 14. "UNDER 14's MUST BE ACCOMPANIED BY AN ADULT," is a standard line at ticket selling sites in Britain, Australia and a bunch of other countries.
In this country, the debate over unaccompanied kids at concerts has focused largely on questions of taste and appropriateness of the concert's content, rather than the more basic question of whether venues should allow little kids in without an adult. Some state legislatures have been moving to push concert presenters to ban unaccompanied kiddies, but mostly because of objections to the use of nude dancers, pornographic images or especially foul language by bands such as Marilyn Manson, Insane Clown Posse or Butthole Surfers.
I'm surprised that the lawyers at big concert venues haven't advised their clients to ban unaccompanied kids purely out of liability concerns, but that's not the reason venues should adopt such a policy. They should exclude little kids who don't have adults watching them because while a big corporate facility cannot replace a parent's lax judgment, it can at least take a stand for some basic level of social rules.
I wouldn't have paid 25 cents for tickets to the Hannah Montana show, and I'm lucky to have kids who are utterly oblivious to the attractions of such stuff, but if my kids did want to attend such an event, my answer would be an easy one: No way, no how. Not on your own, not with me. Saying no--the joy and the job of parenting.
What say you?
By Marc Fisher |
January 11, 2008; 7:39 AM ET
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