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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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Comments

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I can remember, when I was 13, riding the bus to the malls, and Metro-ing into the city to the Smithsonian. But the late 70's and early 80's were a different time, I guess.

Posted by: wiredog | January 11, 2008 8:28 AM

I can remember, when I was 13, riding the bus to the malls, and Metro-ing into the city to the Smithsonian. But the late 70's and early 80's were a different time, I guess.

Posted by: wiredog | January 11, 2008 08:28 AM

But was it at night? I think that's a little different.

I hope those poor girls were picked up outside the center and didn't ride the metro at night. I'm 34 and don't like riding the metro at night! I do it, but I'm very aware of my surroundings.

Posted by: WDC 21113 | January 11, 2008 9:42 AM

When I was younger, I went to a Metallica concert at the old Capitol Center with some friends. My dad drove me, and arranged a specific spot to pick me up after the concert. He then went to a parents room in close by building, where there were free sodas, chips and a tv, along with constant updates on the status of the concert. This was all run by the production company so that parents could be around to drive their kids to and from the concert without having to really leave. Why wasn't this thought of here!

Posted by: jleshin | January 11, 2008 9:42 AM

So, on one end of the parenting spectrum, we have parents sending their kids alone on metro at night to a concert. On the other end we have parents hiring limos to take their kids to a concert. And both of these actions leave a bad taste in my mouth.

Posted by: jen | January 11, 2008 9:50 AM

Quick responce the the rather old NYTimes article, it's funny now that no one really cares about what Marilyn Manson does. He did a tour over the summer and is doign another club tour right now, and there's no controversey at all. Hunh. Hopefully people have slightly figured out that if you ignore someone trying to shock you they just go away.

Sendign a bunch of kidlets downtown alone when the oldest one is 13, however, is incredibly irresponsible. It's really not the venue's responsibility to make sure someone parent doesn't act stupid like this. I can see the sense in a policy of no unacompanies minors, but it would have to be publisized well in advance to make sure you don't have 2000 Hannah Montanna fans staging a riot on F, excuse me, Abe Polin Way, because mommy got them tickets to the show but didn't go with them.

Posted by: EricS | January 11, 2008 10:34 AM

Marilyn Manson, Insane Clown Posse or Butthole Surfers? Are the legislatures pushing that these concert bans be passed in 1997?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 11, 2008 11:00 AM

At that age I too was taking Metro bus and rail by myself but as someone stated earlier that was in the late 70s and early 80s which was a different time.

No amount of nannying by the venue, concert producers, or government will negate bad parenting decisions. Had the venue provided a parents lounge there's no reason to believe these particular parents would have acted differently. Had the venue banned children under 14 there's no reason to beleive these parents would have acted differently. Same for a law banning unaccompanied children from concerts.

The blame for this situation should be directed at the parents and the parents only. What I don't understand is we're talking about 5 little girls so there must have been multiple parents involved in making a really bad decision.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 11, 2008 11:11 AM

HANNNAH MONTANA IS THE BEST

Posted by: SABILA | January 11, 2008 11:19 AM

I took my goddaughter to the Hannah Montana concert (man was it LOUD!) and in the row behind us there were three little girls (10-13 maybe) who didn't have an adult with them. I spent the majority of the show keeping my eye on those little girls scared to death that someone was going to grab them. After the show, my goddaughter and I followed them outside to make sure someone was picking them up. And thankfully someone was. I don't have a problem children being dropped off/picked up at a concert, but I do with kids riding the Metro by themselves. I hope the parents of those girls realize how lucky they are that someone felt bad for their daughters and helped them get to the right stop.

Posted by: melissamac1 | January 11, 2008 11:30 AM

Contrast the realitvely recent ban on outside food and drinks (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/25/AR2006092501122.html) with a lack of an unaccompanied age policy.

The lawyers may indeed have advised to institute such a ban, but it would still have to survive a cost-benefit analysis. Money talks.

Posted by: sw dc | January 11, 2008 11:32 AM

When I was 13 I went to an Aerosmith concert with my sister (who was 14) and a couple of friends who where a bit older. My father drove us there and picked us up when it was over. Now my sister has 3 kids of her own -- I'm sure she would have accompanied the 10-year-old if they had gone to that Hannah Montana thing, but the 13-year-old and 16-year-old have been allowed a certain amount of autonomy for a while now, like going to movies with their friends. But they are required to check in with their parents frequently, which they actually don't mind doing.

Posted by: arlington | January 11, 2008 12:10 PM

MF: "if my kids did want to attend such an event, my answer would be an easy one: No way, no how."

What do you mean by "such an event"? Concerts? As concerts go, this was awfully tame, and not too terribly expensive if you could buy at face value. Large-venue events? But then what about the circus, or the Ice Capades, or sports? And surely you don't mean, "events that Dad considers boring"? Doesn't every parent have to sit through interminable G-rated movies?

Posted by: Tom T. | January 11, 2008 12:45 PM

Why does everyone keep saying that the 70s and 80s were a "different time"? Was there no crime back then? Did criminals and bad people not yet exist? "Gee that Mr. Gacy sure is a nice man, he even dresses up like a clown for the kids."

I mean come one, people. You can probably make a stronger argument that because of the paranoid culture and prevelance of cell phones and cameras, children in public are safer now than any time in the past. Sure, some kids probably aren't mature enough to go alone, but others are. Let's not make blanket statements and wax romantic about earlier eras.

Posted by: M Street | January 11, 2008 12:57 PM

I went to the Beatles concert when I was 13. My mother dropped me and my friend off and saw us on the bus. We were chaperoned by adults who worked at the radio station, and got to take a tour, as well. The parents were told when to pick us up. The fact that the disc jockeys and a few other adults were there, made it a trip that we could all enjoy, and the parents didn't have to worry about us.

Posted by: Paula, Norfolk, VA | January 11, 2008 1:36 PM

I just love the fact that you actually printed 'Butthole'. The kid in me thinks it's funny. I need the weekend to come sooner.

On topic, I'm only 25. As a kid (13-driving age) my parents didn't mind sending my siblings and I out on the metro alone....in the DAY. For something like this concert, if driving us wasn't an option, they would have ridden metro with us to drop us off.

With most kids carrying cell phones now, I don't think attending the concert unaccompanied is really a problem at age 11/13+ - depending on the maturity of the child and provided they were dropped off/picked up by a responsible adult. But riding the metro alone, where cell service isn't reliable - if they have a cell, is just plain bad parenting. So is leaving your three young children sleeping unattended in a hotel room in Portugual while you are out for dinner.

Posted by: FfxGal | January 11, 2008 2:29 PM

"But the late 70's and early 80's were a different time, I guess."

Posted by: wiredog | January 11, 2008 08:28 AM

"Why does everyone keep saying that the 70s and 80s were a 'different time'?"

Posted by: M Street | January 11, 2008 12:57 PM

M Street is actually very much correct. Statistically, children in no more risk of abduction or other major crime now than they were 50 years ago. The difference is sensitivization by a fear-mongering media trying to secure ratings/subscriptions/page views. Our awareness of crime doesn't change the actual statistics. I'd put a link up to the stats for you, but I want to take off early and beat the Friday traffic. :-)

Posted by: Leesburger | January 11, 2008 2:49 PM

Also, regardless of the stats, you don't want to be the 1 in 1000, and there's no excuse for taking simple steps to reduce the risk. That's what parents are supposed to do.

Posted by: Leesburger | January 11, 2008 2:51 PM

I know nothing about the concnert, but folks said it was at night. With the metro trip, and the lenght of the concert, and the fact that it was at night, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the parents were in violations of their local jurisdiction's guidelines regarding supervision of minors. Even if the age is iffy, the fact that the children were crying because they didn't know how to use the Metro to get where they were going shows that they were too young to go alone. Poor parenting. Also, I heard that those tickets were outrageously expensive. I'd have been afraid my kid would have been mugged for the ticket.

Posted by: Fairfax | January 11, 2008 3:07 PM

BS, the times WERE different back in the 1970s. I even remember the change, which for me was around 1981. In the 1970s adults used to talk to us and help us around stores. We knew lots of people by name because our neighbors worked at the stores and the same widow worked at the drug store forever. Then the drug store closed and we had to go to Dart or Peoples. The clerks there were 18 or 20 and would make fun of us kids for our whitebread ways- in particular I remember wanting to hit this teen at dart who laughed at my black keds and said "only a 'bama doesn't wear white adidas." I wanted to "Bam" him, and yeah, it took me years to learn what a "bama" meant or that white adidas meant anything. But it was like, between 1979-1982, the neighborhoods all died and the local stores all closed, and the mentally challenged gas station attendants who still had a dirty ESSO patch on their jacket who would give you change from the change machines on their belts all got replaced by self-service machines. In the place of the older people who liked kids were surly teenagers who took the bus in to their jobs, hated us, let us know it, and didn't care who shoplifted. I used to remember everyone's name at the Woolworths or Bruces or Lowens or Montgomery Donuts, Miss Doris, Mr. Hank the bus driver, Miss Lydia, Miss Sylvia, Miss Mary, Miss Linda- a parade of 60 year olds helping me count my change and remind me this was my stop. Then, blammo, they were replaced by 22 year old Mr. Angry and 30 year old Mr. Surly who smelled like beer. And even as kids we KNEW, man, we KNEW we were getting ripped off and the culture changed- that's why hipster antique stores were so big in Adams Morgan in the late 1980s- because we knew the 50s were better.

The reason people SAY it was different back then is because we remember a time when it WAS different. If you don't remember a time when the bus driver would tell you when your stop was because you showed him your note from your mother, then you lost out on the Beaver Cleaver REALITY that life in MoCo was in the 1970s.

Posted by: DCer | January 11, 2008 4:19 PM

If my kids are going to a concert of any sort I will force them to have me with them. Besides I am into all the groups my children are into anyway so they think it's cool that I want to go with them.

Posted by: Electra | January 13, 2008 7:46 PM

"Besides I am into all the groups my children are into anyway so they think it's cool that I want to go with them."


Doubtful! They'll probably be just as embarrassed by you as every other kid is embarrassed by his/her parents.

In the late 70's I took the metro in the morning to a summer school class at Georgetown (or GW, I forget). I would have been about 13 at the time. The class must have been from 9-noon weekdays, and I took the Metro there and back. Never had a problem. Would do the same for my older daughter, who I can already tell will be responsible and commonsensical enough to handle herself in such a situation by the time she is 13. My younger daughter, I don't know. Of course, she is only six, now, and has many years to gain responsibility and commonsense, but I'll have to wait and see if/when she does.

I can't see having been allowed, or allowing my own child, to attend a concert unaccompanied at 13. I'm not sure when I would allow it. It's not so much the riding the Metro part, it's what could happen at the concert, and leaving the concert.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 13, 2008 8:13 PM

I'm with Mark on just saying "no" to Hannah Montana, whether the kids go alone, or not. She's a merchandise-driven, corporate-manufactured piece of fluff, who lip-synchs and has even used a double, with a father who can never be forgiven for foisting "Achy Breaky Heart" on the world. Why would I encourage my kid to pour more money into Disney's already overflowing coffers? There has got to be better quality, more original children's entertainment out there than this dreck.

Posted by: Mr. T in DC | January 14, 2008 9:55 AM

Well the writer of the article didn't take a solid stance towards young kids going to see bands such as Insance... oh nevermind.

Look at all these people with all these great stories of when they got to go to a concert at young age...

nuff said,

MCL (Much Clown Luv)

JuggaloNews.com

Posted by: Milenkos Magic | January 15, 2008 1:14 AM

I ♥ u Hannah!!! u r the best!!!

Posted by: Sally Sue | January 15, 2008 2:38 PM

I love you Hannah Montana !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: kylie | January 15, 2008 7:45 PM

we love you hannah montana.your music is amzing !!!!!! we are your number one fan.

Posted by: selena and margaret | January 22, 2008 3:26 PM

HEY MILEY I LOVE YOU I HAVE everything of youu my friends say that they have never seen anyone that likes hannah montana somuch my room is coverd with hannah montana top to bodome EVERYTHING HANNAH MONTANA YOU WILL NOT BELEVE I GO TO THE STORE ALL THE TIME AND GET ANYTHING I CAN I HAVE 8 OR EVEN MORE SHIRTS I KNOW ALL OF YOUR SONGS AND THERE AWSOME I LOVE YOU SO MUCH MY MOMS LIKES THE SONG BEST OF BOTH WORLDS AND PLUS I WENT TO THE CONCERT TOUR IN LA IT WAS AWSOME I LOVED IT SO MUCH I WAS GOING TO FANT I SAW U I WAS GOING TO YELL OUT I LOVE YOU HANNAH MONTANA I WAS SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO HAPPY WHEN I SAW YOU IT WAS SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO AWSOME THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS TOUR IN LAIS THE ONE I WENT TI AND I GOT A T-SHRT AND A BOOK I WERE MY T-SHRTS EVERY DAY TO SCHOOL AND YOU DONT EVEN KNOW HOW MCH I LOVE YOU AND I CANT BELEVE YOUR THIS FAMOSE IVE ALLWAY WANTED TO MEET FAMMOSE PEOPLE BUT I MOSTLY WANT TO MEET YOU MILEY YOU ARE THE BEST THAT IS WHY YOU SING THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS EVEN MY PARENTS LOVE YOU I ALLWAYS WATCH HANNAH MONTANA EVERYDAY I NEVER MISS ONE THATS HOW AWSOME YOU ARE I ALMOST GOT MY MOM A HANNAH MONTANA GIFT BECUSE AND SOME TIME I WISH I WERE YOU SOME TIME I LOVE YOU MILEY CYRUS I WISH I COULD MEET YOU AND IF I DID THAT WOULD BE SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO COOL AND IF I MEET YOU I WOULD GO AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH IF I MEET YOU YOU ARE THE MOST FUNNY ONE ON HANNAH MONTANA HANNAH MONTANA ROCKS SOOO HARD IT WOULD BE SO TERRIBLE IF YOU STOPED THE SINGING AND THE DANCING BUT YOU WILL TILL BE REMEBERD AS YOU WERE BEFORE MILEY CYRUS / HANNAH MONTANA ROCKS THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD YOU ROCK MILEY

Posted by: melissa | January 24, 2008 9:15 PM

hi hanna montana my name is crystal and i am a big phan i just want to tell you hi and i never went to you're conserts but i saw them on tv and i want to meat you and how are you? is it fun beeing famous i bet it is? but i bet you some times you want to be like a regular kid for once?it was nice talking to you by!

Posted by: crystal | April 4, 2008 12:49 PM

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