Parental Responsibility vs Business
posted at 2:20 pm on April 27, 2010 by Tanya
We have a brilliant and bizarre “museum” — I’m still not sure that’s an appropriate label — here in St Louis called the City Museum. It’s sort of like an enormous ball crawl for adults. Er, grown-ups. Er, post-adolescents. You climb through mesh tubes until you’re five stories in the air, and then slide down one of several colorful metal shafts back to the ground. There are even junked-out airplanes to inspect and climb on.
If you happen to be into that sort of thing, it’s a lot of good clean fun on a Saturday night. Hard on the knees, but good exercise. During the day, it’s full of kids and their parents.
Anyway, as you might expect, they get their share of lawsuits. Some are reasonable, and some are patently frivolous (that link should make your blood boil, but the booming popularity of fraud is a whole ‘nother topic). There have been a few since I moved here, and the most recent was in January, over a 10 year old boy who fell fourteen feet and wound up with brain damage.
[Michelle] Kirk, her husband, Thomas, and three children had traveled here from their home in Lawrence, Kan., for spring break. A brochure in the hotel lobby for the City Museum intrigued her.
Within minutes of the family’s arrival at the museum, Kirk’s daughter told her mother that Gavin had fallen. Gavin was climbing a stacked metal structure when he fell onto a walkway.
Now I don’t have kids, I just go there because it’s fun. But even I can look at the thing and tell that it’s potentially dangerous, just like any climbing structure. Do you let your kid go running off alone in a place like that, where you can’t even yell at them if they’re doing something dumb? It’s not that I’m not sympathetic, but the mother wasn’t even watching her kids — she had to be told by the daughter that he’d fallen.
There have been various broken legs and concussions, which you’d see at any playground, so those sound realistic to me. But another lawsuit came after an 18 month old baby fell between some cracks and fractured her skull.
What’s wrong with that sentence? An 18 month old?! In this?! What, they couldn’t just leave her in the car with a bottle of Jack?
So where should the line be drawn? Where does a parent’s responsibility end, and when does it become a requirement of the business? Since the display is big enough for most adults, should kids have to be accompanied inside with their parents? And should the museum require that tiny kids stick to the other exhibits, which include an aquarium, antique toys, and an art creation section — or is that a part of parental responsibility too? Am I being too hard on these parents, or does it sound wrong to you too?