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When Adults Help Kids Flirt With Death
Posted on Jul 18, 2010
By T.L. Caswell
The standard for underage derring-do shouldn’t be whether the minor survives. That is of towering importance, and caring people will always be joyful when a kid ends up unscathed, but a larger societal issue is in play: that of constructively guiding a child toward adulthood, toward a stage where he or she is fitter to make life-and-death decisions.
In 2005 The Washington Post published an article headlined “Brain Immaturity Could Explain Teen Crash Rate; Risky Behavior Diminishes At Age 25, NIH Study Finds.”
That would seem to speak for itself.
Anytime someone raises the question of whether adults are doing enough to protect children from their own rash decisions, howls arise across a wide spectrum. Some people complain that children, especially American children, are overprotected and aren’t allow to adequately challenge themselves. Others claim that any call for better protection of minors is the work of Big Brother, who wants to control every aspect of life and to sap initiative in a scheme to produce a weak, docile population. Still others see a creeping nanny-ism that would turn boys into sissies, or force girls back into kitchens where they would have no access to achievement in sports, business and other activities out of the home.
Can protective attitudes have bad results if carried too far? Definitely. If carried too far. A minor is not a delicate hothouse flower that must be kept inside a stifling environment designed to ward off every threat, risk and danger. But how can it be anything but tragic when a life is prematurely and needlessly uprooted?
In 1996 there was a child named Jessica Dubroff who wanted to become the youngest person to pilot an airplane across the United States. She needed a booster seat in order to be high enough to see out of the cockpit. Despite media hoopla over her record attempt, the 7-year-old apparently did not always fly the craft. No matter. The media were on the case. Doing their job, however wrongheaded that job may be at times.
On April 11, 1996, about 24 hours after the bid for the record began, Jessica, her dad and a flight instructor took off from Cheyenne, Wyo., reportedly with the instructor at the controls. Need I say what happened?
Mainly as a result of that day’s three deaths, Congress soon passed the Child Pilot Safety Act, which imposes restrictions on underage pilots “attempting to set a record or engage in an aeronautical competition or aeronautical feat.”
Jessica would be 22 years old now.
I’m sorry you never had a chance to grow up, little girl.
Requiescat in pace.
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