Â Hi bbezkkhfne
Folks! Here’s a letter from prison…er…Chuck E. Cheese, sent to us by Angelica Totten, who originally posted it on her Facebook page. I so agree that the policy at Chuck E’s is not only overkill, it’s cultural pollution, spreading the idea that predators are always lurking near kids and ready to kidnap them if we don’t maintain a police-state-like vigilance. – L.Â
But it’s more than that, I think. When we treat going to a pizza parlor like going into lockdown, we as a culture have a problem. And the problem isn’t too many “predators.” It’s too many people who think there are predators lurking around every corner (does Chuck E. Cheese himself count? He was pretty scary). Being forced to be stamped with mystery ink is degrading, as if we are all suspected of Â just waiting for a chance to hurt a child. Even more degrading is having to wait to be scanned with an ultraviolet light before reluctantly being allowed to leave with YOUR OWN DAMN CHILD.
I decided pretty early on that I was going to avoid that scan, come hell or high water, and managed to get out the door before the KidCheck officer — oops, I mean employee — could Tase me or hit the panic button that summons the military helicopters. He did try to chase after me, you know, because this was somehow “unsafe.” My next move was going to be to pull down my pants and show him my c-section scar. I’m this kid’s mom, honest. Ask me how loudly he screams when he’s hungry and asked to clean up his toys.
It made me feel somewhat better to pen a letter (well, email) to Chuck E. Cheese corporate headquarters complaining about this overkill policy. I suggested Â that perhaps if they don’t want to scrap the KidCheck program altogether, they could make it voluntary (not sure how that would work, but that’s their problem). The best solution would be for parents to stop outsourcing safety, and to realize that the best way to protect their kids is to (1) Teach them never to go off with strangers. Talking to strangers is fine. A stranger can help you if you’re in trouble. (2) Teach them to yell and fight back if somebody does something that makes them feel uncomfortable. And (3) Start letting them do things on their own, so they start figuring out what feels OK and what doesn’t.
And we as a culture have to calm down. It’s a vicious circle. If enough people talk about scary, scary predator dangers, you start to think maybe they know what they’re talking about. They don’t. Your child’s chances of being abducted and killed are .00007 percent. Crimes against children (and against all people) have been plummeting since 1992. Your kid is 40% more likely to die in a car crash than to be killed by a “predator.”
Hmm, now that I think about it, maybe they should have bouncers to keep your kids from getting in and out of the car with you…
II took my nephew once and somehow we ended up with non matching stamps. Picture me trying to coax my 5 yr old guy to leave when this teenager tells me that we don’t match so we can’t leave. Then he asks my nephew ” Do you want to leave with this lady” and of course he says “no” because he doesn’t want to leave…..period! Then the kid asks Zared “what’s your name” and then asks me for my ID but we don’t have the same last name…agh. There was one other family and us in the entire place and we had been there for over an hour so this teen had seen us together the entire time. I finally just grabbed Z’s hand and walked out.
The program is KidCheck (copyright). They actively advertise this “safety” feature in their TV ads. Shockingly, they had to include this disclaimer on their website:
“This program is not a substitute for adult supervision.”
So maybe parents were leaving without their little ones…but no one else could leave with them and they don’t want to get stuck with them.
I avoid Chuck E Cheese like dirty diapers. Around our parts we call it Kiddie Atlantic City…Lets go to a place that encourages kids to gamble, er use tokens, to win tickets for valueless, useless prizes. Yeah! We spent 20 dollars playing games for two Smarties. But run back to your seat for the scary dancing rat performance!
Your kid is 40% more likely to die in a car crash than to be killed by a â€œpredator.â€
That doesn’t seem right. Can someone fact check this?!? this would would imply that if the chances of being killed by a predator are 1/10000 then the chances of being killed in a car crash are 1.4/10000. The discrepancy must be dramatically larger than this.
Yes, isn’t their security amazing. Do not ever make a deal with another parent, to pick up your kid and their’s from a Chuck’s Bday party. Did it once, and what a joke. My daughters friend dropped them off, and I was to pick them up.
1. No matching #.
2. No match on names with my daughter’s friend.
They wanted me to have my daughter’s friend come back into town, to pick them up. We got it straight, but it was becoming tense.
They will never see a cent from us ever again.
Now the Amusement parks with the rule of waking sleeping kids, I don’t have a problem with. Since the one’s I have been to use their heads.
I remember when they instituted this policy at my local Chuck E. Cheese. It was about 15 years ago, and even as an almost-adult myself, I was terribly confused about how it was supposed to work. I’m pretty sure I arrived with a boyfriend and didn’t get stamped or scanned. Although it would have been “hilarious” to have been owned by him for three hours. Of course, for most of my life I went there, and to the Showbiz Pizza before it changed, and surprisingly was never abducted or even once approached by a stranger older than myself.
Another bad point is if ya kid is being a brat and they ask “is this ur kid?” No matter how convincing your ” nope, never seen that kid before ” is your busted by the damn stamp!
Have never run into this at the Chuck E Cheese near us in the Chicago area.
The much sadder thing is that we will drive by the local CEC (which I have vowed never to go into and have kept my promise) on a beautiful spring, summer or fall day and the parking lot is overflowing and lines upon lines of people waiting to get in. For what? So the kids can go play another version of an online game they just finished at home? Heck, order some pizzas, put them on the patio (yes with germs and all) and invite a bunch of kids to come over and run amok.
I used to go to Chuck E. Cheese’s (and Showbiz Pizza before the change) all the time as a kid. No stamps in those days, and we never had a problem. However, when I was about 13 we lived right down the street from the place, and my brother and I used to ride our bikes there on our own. When they figured out we were coming in without an adult, we were kicked out and told not to come back without our parents. I’m often envious of my (9 years older) husband’s childhood escapades to the local arcade, and I wonder why I didn’t do things like that. Then I remember: we tried, and they kicked us out. Pretty sad.
Warren, amusement parks that require you to wake your sleeping children before leaving? I would be furious! When my kids were little, if you woke them putting them into the car they would NOT go back to sleep, and would instead cry the whole way home!
I have no problems with this. No one requires you to go to Chuck E Cheese. You don’t like their policy, stay away. I have plenty of other choices for good (actually edible) pizza. I went to Chuck E Cheese once; the food was awful, the noise incredible, the place was filthy, and the customers incredibly rude. Never again.
They can put handcuffs on the kids for all I care. I can show my displeasure by going someplace else. Not like a school or such.
Lenore described it well. It’s cultural pollution.
It’s toxic. It’s dangerous to feed the hysteria frenzy that has gripped the world.
Fear takes over and overrides common sense so much that people start to think that over-the-top security makes children safer.
The population of the US is 314 million. Statistics show that 14% of this suffers from anxiety. That equates to 1.3 million people!
Yet we think it’s safer to make this figure climb even further than relax our worst first thinking.
This anxiety is self perpetuating.
Childangerphobia is similar to Obsessive Compulsion Disorder. A person with Childangerphobia will never feel their children are safe and keep trying to protect them further. In the same way, a person with OCD will never feel their hands are properly washed and will keep washing them until they bleed.
lol I like that. “Kiddie Atlantic City”
I can just see it now
You can train your children to be compulsive gamblers! They will need an outlet such as gambling to relieve all the excess stress fueled by all the fear that you injected into them!
Statistics on Driving Deaths in the US:
(I’d try to figure out the “Odds of dying in a car crash” but that varies widely depending on whether you use the whole US population, those who own/drive/ride in cars, or some metric of deaths-per-million-passenger-miles or something similar. You can slice that statistic a dozen different ways, and I don’t want to be arbitrary.)
And here’s some statistics on child abductions in the US:
Again, it’s sliced and diced a dozen different ways. Too hard to make an apples to apples comparison.
Suffice it to say that about 28,000 vehicle occupants died in motor vehicle crashes, while about 160 kids were abducted in ‘stereotypical kidnapping’ (vs. by a family member/caretaker) situations.
Which is more likely? Yeah, the car crash.
I grew up in a little town with no such Chuck E. Cheese. I now live in a city and went for the first time just this year at the behest of my 16-year-old Spanish exchange student (apparently, CEC are seen as the bee’s knees to European teenagers since they were raised on American TV but don’t have any CEC’s in their home countries).
I had always been told it was a parent’s worst nightmare…and then we were the only ones there! And yet they still stamped us. And checked us when we left! Even our teenager!
“I finally just grabbed Zâ€™s hand and walked out.”
Yes here is the huge gaping hole in this whole thing – the Chuck E Cheese employees have no ability whatsoever to stop you from leaving with a kid! If they actually did so, THEY would be violating the law.
@Yan actually you can show your displeasure with a school in exactly the same way! Things would change if more people did so.
The last time I went to Chuck’s place, the birthday boy kicked Chucky in the balls because the singing was so loud. I felt sorry for the guy in the suit…but it made the whole trip worth it!
Personally, if I never go in again, it will be too soon.
Ok we don’t have chucky cheese in Australia so can someone pls describe it to me. I thought it was a burger joint from what I’ve seen on tv…
I wonder what would happen if you just walked out with your kid? It can’t be possible that you could get arrested for leaving with your own child, can it?
The parks that wanted to wake, sleeping kids upon exit, that I have encountered all used common sense. They approached me carrying my 3 yr old once, but when they saw my 11 yr old walking and talking with me, they just waved me threw. Told me no need to wake this one.
The other time, my wife and I had the then 2 yr old sleeping in a stroller, and the then 10 yr old, in tow. Again waved on, and told that they like to wake the sleepers, but only is something seems off.
That I don’t mind.
Yeah sure you can just not go, or you can write a letter. They don’t have to listen but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t at least try.
We should at least try to speak up when we see the world has gone insane.
Well, on this one, I am fine with the kid check. That place is a zoo, it’s impossible to find your kid in there since they scatter, and it would be the perfect place for a predator to operate for those reasons. The security check gives me a little peace of mind when I’m chatting with other parents and oblivious to where my kids are in the building. There are usually very young kids there, like 3, 4, 5 years old, and without the security, I wouldn’t be comfortable not following around after them. It’s not that I would be SO paranoid and assume that they would be abducted at all, but in that confusing situation, I would feel a responsibility to keep my eye on them at all times without the security check.
Last time we went to Chuck E Cheese’s, the cops were there. Nope, no child abduction. But a kid reported a junkie shooting crack in the men’s bathroom.
If I dont like their set up, I won’t go. My only concern is you were there, and I hope that kid didn’t suffer repercussions because you wouldn’t allow him to properly do his job. And what you did probably made him more in parent’s faces for the rest of the night.
It is our responsibility to know where our kids are. The use of a security system should not make us not know where our kids are. I wouldn’t feel comfortable with my 4 year old running around with me not knowing where she is. I would want her checking in with me on a regular basis to let me know where she is. I do trust her to go play in the ball pit and then let me know that she is going to move on to the slide. I don’t trust her to have a free for all.
I’m actually fine with the kid check, because it meant when my kids were only 7 and 5, it was easy to go in on an early, uncrowded morning, bringing a book, and sit and read–or talk with my fellow moms who brought the kids for a playdate–while we let the kids roam completely free, unhelicoptered, without concern that they would just walk out without being stopped. My son, at 5, was wont to do that. Once he walked out of a water park and into the parking lot before I realized he was gone. We had mentioned possibly going out for a tailgate picnic, but had not agreed to do so, and he’d just heard picnic and gone out while I was preoccupied with the other kid. I was temporarily panicked, but of course he was fine, and I found him. Still, I think it’s a nice service to have someone stop young kids from wandering out of an establishment alone. I do see it could be a logistical problem if you “switched off” who came and went with the kid.
I think it should be made optional. I can understand if there are parents who fear abduction. and those parents could use it. I also think as kids get older, they may not need it as much. If I remember when I was a child, Showbiz Pizza Place (Chuck E Cheese’s competitor at the time, and was eventually merged with Chuck E Cheese) did not do this when I was there in the 80s.
Really Bad Mum – to experience Chuckie Cheese
Get the world’s worst pizza over cook it.
Turn on 6 – 7 TV sets turn them all to different channels and blast the volume as high as possible.
Add a couple of radios
Spend 20 – 30 dollars on toys worth 2 or 3 dollars.
I’ve never been to Chuck E. Cheese, but it sounds like my definition of hell. If my child wanted a “playground” kind of birthday party, then I’d do it the old-school way, with a picnic in the park.
If you have ever been to a birthday party there you might appreciate the security feature. I don’t mind at all and while I don’t think they would stop you from leaving without being checked, they might cause a fuss and get attention. I don’t think it is a big deal. Private enterprise can do what they want, just don’t go if it bothers you.
Also since there is no fee for entering you can always walk out with your child and have the other person walk right in with them and get a new stamp. Actually you don’t have to walk out since the stamper is inside.
I was just there with my son for a birthday party, and never thought of it as an abduction stopping thing. I thought of it more as a “kid doesn’t wander out the door accidentally” thing. It really didn’t bother me at all.
I don’t think it’s a big deal, but I don’t think it makes kids safer. Maybe it gives a false sense of security, but I think it’s mainly just a marketing tool. I promise you will lose your kids there. It’s so hard to keep track of them. Chaos. I’m glad to know they can’t just wander out on their own, but I’m not worried about them getting snatched.
Hmmm, I always avoid Chuck E. Cheese, but I had never really thought about the security system. I dislike it because it is loud, crowded, a cesspool of germs and a complete waste of money both in terms of food and quality of play. The kids have gone for other kids birthday parties, but we never go on outings there of our own choosing.
Sorry, but it is an abduction thing, otherwise, they wouldn’t stamp parent and kid with the same number. If it was just to keep the kids, from wandering out into the parking lot, they wouldn’t have to stamp at all. Just don’t let a kid, leave alone.
And for the record, it does nothing. A Chuck E Cheese employee has no legal authority to detain anyone. They can call the police, but that is it.
I can just see being stopped on the highway by the police, to prove my daughter is my daughter. Chuck and his people would have alot of explaining to do.
Personally, I consider CEC the 12th circle of hell. But I do think that the system allows kids who would not normally be allowed to roam without a parent an inch from them some freedom.
I dated a guy for a short time who refused to allow his son out of his sight at CEC because he was afraid he would be kidnapped. Once I pointed out that there was no way that anyone could leave with his son, he started to let him roam and son was much happier.
“That place is a zoo, itâ€™s impossible to find your kid in there since they scatter, and it would be the perfect place for a predator to operate for those reasons.”
Except that there just aren’t that many predators in the world. The world is not full of predators without children to abduct looking for CEC. In fact, most pedophiles have children, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, etc. and are simply not looking to kidnap children. They have no need when they can prey on their own relatives, probably for years before being discovered.
I’m not saying that abduction doesn’t happen. It does, but rarely. It happens rarely because there are very few abductors, not because there are very few good places to abduct kids.
@Amanda: Yes I can – and I did…. We moved 3,000 miles largely because of the schools in our old state were awful. (Well there were a few other reasons, but yes, that was a big one.)
But I realize most people don’t have the resources to quit their job, sell their business, house and all, and move where they want. If it’s my out of pocket stuff, then a business can do what they want within the law. But if it’s my tax dollars, then I expect some sort of reasonable middle road, openness and common sense.
I don’t expect our public schools to teach my kids exactly what I want, the way I want it, but I respect what they do.
And removing trees because someone somewhere might be alergic to something or other is just loony, and at a cost of several thousand dollars per tree I would expect my money to be better spent. (Yes, it really costs that much to remove an urban tree.)
I consider myself very free range, but I actually like the kid check thing at our local chuck e cheese. My daughter is 4 and I have a six month old as well, and it makes me feel comfortable giving her considerably more freedom to roam around without me tailing her every move than I normally would in a crowded public place–as other have said, not even especially because of predators but because she might just wander out the front door. And it is NOT easy to keep up with a kid in a place like that, it’s not like a supermarket with aisles and clear sight lines, it is huge and filled with all kinds of attractions. Not easy to keep up with your kid, especially if you have more than one kid to watch and they want to do different things.
Now, I can understand how if your kid is 8, it would seem like overkill, but much of the place is geared for the toddler/preschool demographic. I definitely appreciate it as do my friends with little ones.
Where I live, there are a number of parents who use Chuck E. Cheese as a way to allow a noncustodial parent to have a supervised visit with a child. The custodial parent would arrive early, get the handstamp, and explain that the child was supposed to leave with no one else. No, the handstamp wouldn’t provide much resistance to an adult determined to leave with a child, but it provided an extra layer of security without the fees charged by monitored centers.
I’m not saying that I particularly care for the system, but after learning just how many parents use Chuck E. Cheese for visitation, I can see how it’s helpful to them.
A friend of mine’s teenage daughter took a job at Chuck E. Cheese. After her first day, the first thing she said to her parents was, “I’m getting my tubes tied!”
>>Now, I can understand how if your kid is 8, it would seem like overkill, but much of the place is geared for the toddler/preschool demographic. I definitely appreciate it as do my friends with little ones.<<
Sara–That's just the problem. Blanket rules like this "security stamp" system at Chuck E. Cheese have the unfortunate effect of holding older kids to the same set of rules as toddlers. That kind of mentality is the crux of the whole "Bubble Wrap Kids" crisis–in fact, the very first episode of the series was called "Ten Year Old, Or Toddler?"; and it featured a ten-year-old boy whose mother insisted on running his baths, cutting his meat, and hovering over every facet of his life.
Totally overkill, I agree. I don’t think they all do this it must be a regional thing. I have only been there once for a birthday party. I did notice they don’t let any grown ups in without children. I live in So. Cal.
I don’t know about the local CEC – I haven’t been there since I was a kid and it was Showbiz. It was the place to go for birthdays for awhile, and I went to several parties there. I seem to remember the adults (my parents and their friends) congregating around the pitchers of beer on the table while we roamed freely about the place. But there is a place around here called Monkey Joes which does the wrist band check in thing. They also won’t let anyone in if not accompanied with a child. I was babysitting for a friend of mine, and I took her son and mine here for a few hours. I wasn’t particularly concerned about my son getting kidnapped, I was slightly more concerned about him heading into the parking lot of his own volition. Of course, that didn’t happen, either. I guess it didn’t occur to me, until I got there, that my son *might* be in danger of being kidnapped, and there is the crux of the matter: it didn’t occur to me that there were potential problems of this nature until the business pointed them out to me. I’m not saying we should buy our heads in the sand, but we need to keep our concerns realistic, too.
“I did notice they donâ€™t let any grown ups in without children.”
Which is even more ridiculous than Kidcheck. I threw a very small birthday party at Chuck E Cheese for my daughter a few years ago (not the formal party; just bring a cake and play games). Her grandparents and uncle, all kidless, came. It would have been really annoying for everyone to have to wait outside until the whole group was together because the unaccompanied adults couldn’t go in by themselves.
And what exactly does requiring a kid accomplish? A pedophile so inclined to diddle a kid in the bathroom at Chuck E Cheese probably knows a child to take to Chuck E Cheese for cover.
About all of these concerns about kids escaping from Chuck E. Cheese if they’re not on “lockdown,” did it occur to anyone that, if a child is trying to escape a place full of slides, ball pits, arcade games, junk food, and six-foot-tall rodents, that’s supposed to be “fun,” then there’s something wrong with the venue itself? At least some of them probably feel overstimulated–I know I would.
It is ridiculous and a complete overblown response but I always wonder if silliness like this is due more to the lawyers than anything else. If a kid gets abducted- a one in a million chance- Chuck E Cheese might get (gasp) sued!
Hey, I know several lawyers–my parents are lawyers, they hang out with other lawyers, and I work with (unrelated) lawyers. Most of the lawyers I know are perfectly reasonable people, and they’d think that turning a pizza restaurant/playground/arcade into Fort Knox was crazy too.
Chuck E Cheese is to pizza what buses with fake streetcar bodies are to real trolley cars.
They don’t have Chuck E. Cheese in Germany. After reading the comments above, I don’t feel so culturally deprived for never setting foot in one. From what I have read above, if Dante was writing “The Divine Comedy” today, Chuck E. Cheese would be the 7th circle of Hell.
If I were a child abductor or pedophile, a place like Chuck E. Cheese would be the last place I would go to steal or abuse a kid. Pedophiles take their time grooming their victims and getting them alone in a private setting. They’re not going to go to a crowded restaurant/arcade because there would be too many witnesses. There would probably even be several people in the bathrooms (any venue with young kids always seems to have a crowd in the bathrooms), which would mean no chance for a pedophile to abuse a child there. If I were a potential child abductor, Chuck E. Cheese would also be the last place I would go to steal a child. Again, I would look for a place with as few potential witnesses as possible and also one that didn’t have any security checks.
I also refer to Chuck E Cheese as Hell… 🙂
My daughter has been to a few parties there; she loves it, I despise it…
Last time when I was dropping her off there were a few teenagers standing in the front entryway having just been denied entry. I asked them their ages – 17. Why couldn’t they go in? They needed an adult with them… I said too bad one of you isn’t 18 and could play the grownup! They were taking it in stride but were flummoxed as to why they were being kept out.
Not sure why a well groomed, meek little group of young adults would be turned away. Was the restaraunt afraid they could be kidnapped or that they would do the kidnapping?
Heh, my sister got in a big screaming match with Chuck E Cheese (the restaurant, not the mouse) when they wouldn’t let her 16-YEAR-OLD son in the place without an adult! They were taking some of his younger cousins there to play one Sunday, but he wanted to go to the department store next door first to look for some shoes. When he came into Chuck E Cheese alone, they refused to let him in until his mom appeared at the entrance. MADNESS!
I like the whole free-range idea. That being said CEC is not hell. First, their pizza has improved and isn’t that bad. Actually the salad bar is pretty decent and on par with other establishments. About once a year I will round up some coupons grab the report card and take my daughter. You know what she has fun. My youngest now 7 isn’t addicted to video games. She never turns on the Wii at home, but she likes playing the different games and trying for tickets. I use the opportunity for her to learn what is the best way to get the most tickets. We play some games and figure out where you get the best chance to win tickets.
I don’t mind the kid check. Let’s face it the target audience for bday parties is 3-9. If you drop your kid off at the party and leave at least you can know that no one else is going to take your kid or your kid isn’t going to wander off. Plus it helps the host parents for the party know that a kid isn’t going to wander off. Think about it for a minute. You have your kid’s bday party there. 20 kids show up. Over half the parents leave. You have to keep an eye on 10-14 kids making sure they don’t go out into the parking lot. Unless you are sitting by the door you can’t be sure. I don’t want to be responsible for someone else’s kid doing something stupid. Maybe I raised my kids to know better than to leave, but do you really know if the kids showing up are as responsible.
I thought the number was so you wouldn’t abandon your kid and the invisible ink was a courtesy to parents who don’t need ink marks all over their hands at work (so thoughtful!). I thought of this blog when I realized the opposite.
When this was put in place at my local Chuck E Cheese is was publicized as an answer to non custodial parents taking kids without permission. There had been two instances, yes just two, of the father taking the child who was there with friends. I always wondered how this program would have stopped that. A) If asked, the child would likely say yes this is my dad. B) Even if the kid does not say that, how would the staff member actually stop the dad from leaving? The best the staff could do is run to the parking lot and get the license plate number and description of the car.
I grew up with the original Chuck E. Cheese’s in Manchester, NH. It was delightfully dingy, in an old movie theater, with an animatronic Elvis impersonator in the eating area and different rooms for the different games and activities. Kids ran amok while parents sat by the pizza, out of our view most of the time, and the noise was sectioned off. When a kid needed a break, she’d come sit with mom in the relatively quiet Elvis room, where conversation was possible between the occasional 2-minute-long ‘performances’.
That location has now been standardized to the model you all are describing. I guess the old model wouldn’t fly these days – it was a relic even in the 80’s. But when I took my son there for a birthday party… I miss Elvis.
Well, before judging Chuck E Cheese, I would want to know what was behind their decision to do this. Did they get sued or pillaried for letting a child leave with his non-custodial parent or something? Or was it because of that time some family accidentally left one of their kids there for hours upon hours? I mean, companies don’t just come up with this stuff because they have nothing better to spend their money on.
I took my kids to ChuckECheez for a birthday party, and yes, they did that security thing, and no, it was not a big deal. From a little kid’s perspective, it should not really seem any different from the hand stamping that you do when you enter / leave an amusement park. If my kid asked about it, I could say it was a way to make sure kids didn’t leave without their parents.
I will say that while my kids were in ChuckECheez, it was a relatively free-range experience. Give them the tokens and they can go wherever they want and do a lot of things without parental supervision or involvement. (My kids are 5 & 6.) I think that if having a little stamp on the hand gives parents and employees enough peace of mind to let kids free range inside the place, that is better than parents feeling the need to have their eyes glued to their kids the whole time they are there.
I’ve been waiting for a post about this general topic. I want to give an update on the Little Gym marketing for Amber Alert GPS thingies. I got this ad by email and it’s also posted all over the Little Gym where I take my kids. Something about how buying this Amber Alert GPS will give us the peace of mind to allow our kids to basically be kids. I mentioned it here derisively after I got the email.
The other day I received a survey in my email. The whole focus of the survey was: what did you think of the Amber Alert promo by the Little Gym? It gave me a chance to tell them off. I mentioned that that kind of fearmongering is one of the biggest reasons kids today aren’t active. A company that’s supposed to be focused on kids’ fitness should not be promoting fears about letting our kids go play.
I wonder what prompted this survey and what the overall outcome will be.
The last time (only time) I went to Chuck E. Cheese was when my son was 3. He’s 10 now. I don’t think they had that feature. The place gave me a headache. When we moved back to New Orleans after Katrina, I told him that they didn’t have one here. Eventually they did, but I didn’t tell. Now it’s Laser Tag, but thankfully they haven’t started stamping me or my son.
Chuck E Cheese IS hell. Even before I was married, I knew to avoid the place like a plague. My son’s friend had a birthday party there, and happiness really didn’t take place. It’s just too much, in too many bad ways.
I have a serious problem with parents wanting to sit back and let their kids run amok in public. That just generates bad habits.
The whole franchise is built on lazy parenting.
Captain America: hooray for lazy parenting! I wish I were better at it.
PS, I agree the place is hell, but the occasional birthday party there will not ruin our kids. At some point, kids need to experience a little of the crazy that is out there. Better to do it while the potential damage is limited, in my opinion.
I never took my kids there until they were invited for a birthday party this year. That’s because I’d been there before for a friend’s kids, and yes, it was awful in just about every way. But I had to admit that this time around, it was a lot better. Not greasy, not as noisy, laid out better, and there was more to do that didn’t involve money. So at least they seem to have made some improvements. But no, this will still not make the list for restaurants we can go to on a regular basis.
Imagine if McDonald’s started requiring a check like this. After all, in some ways the two place aren’t so different. They both have lower-quality food and a kids’ play area. McD’s isn’t quite so over the top with their “entertainment” options, but what if they started doing a check to get into and out of the play area? People would raise a huge stink!
I went with my boys once when my youngest was a little baby. They forgot to stamp him, and just stamped me and my oldest. My youngest was so little I “wore” him in a carrier the whole time. When we tried to leave, yep, the lack of the stamp for him became a problem. Um, if I were kidnapping this baby, would I really bother to put him in a carrier? 😛 Finally, the guy just stepped aside. It’s true that they can’t really do anything, anyway.
We just don’t go to Chuck E. Cheese so I didn’t know about this hand stamp thing. There is this indoor playground in Arizona where they give groups who come together wristbands that have your group name on them and the number of people in your group and when you leave, you all just have to leave together. It’s this HUGE playground and the kids just run amok there while parents sit on the sides and read or chat or they get up and play with the kids. I actually thought it was a good idea because the play area is so enormous and it makes it so your kids can’t leave without you (I have kids who would try to just leave if they got tired of being there). You can stay and play for hours. While I do believe child abductions are rare, it’s still easy to lose track of someone in a place like that and having the wristbands with your name helps so in case your kids get completely lost from you, they are easier to find.
I do have a question. All the people talking about checking groups leaving amusement parks? Which parks do this? Disney? I have only been to one Amusement park in the last 15 years and it was Knott’s Berry Farm and they didn’t do that there. They’d have hell to pay if they woke my sleeping child. How does waking a child prevent a kidnapping? You wake a child up who’s sleeping and you’ll get an earful of screams.
I told my kids you have to be at least 10 to go to CEC. They believed it for years.
It suddenly occurs to me: what mystifies me most about parents who embrace the idea of a predator lurking around every corner is their willingness to suffer the enormous stress and paralysis that adapting around such a belief entails.
I simply didn’t have the resources to do that, and when I looked into my own heart, I didn’t want to, since I knew it was inherently a bad thing for kids, too.
But what I really want to get at is how utterly horrible life is when you imagine that it’s your job to run interference between your kid and the boogeyman during all your waking hours. What struck me about Lenore’s TV show was how compromised those parents were in terms of their own health and well-being, especially the mothers. They were on the verge of collapse after years of terror, worry and self-assigned busywork. Sure, at the end of each episode, you saw happier kids. But what really struck me was seeing the life flow back into those parents.
The culture of fear is not just about robbing children of healthy development. It’s about adults self-destructing as well. For some reason, I wasn’t even slightly tempted to do this to myself, and I felt so alone. I knew that I wasn’t willing to pretend I could, even if it meant my kids would be taken away from me due to what the State would call “neglect” in this hysterical climate of media-propogated, commercialized fear we’ve got today.
Military-industrial complex indeed. Except now the war is within ourselves. So tragic.
@SKL–Your kids are school-age, right? I’m not familiar with the rules of Chuck E. Cheese, but when I was a kid, kindergarten/grade one was around the age when parents would drop their kids off at birthday parties instead of staying. Does Chuck E. Cheese allow that? I’m asking this because a lot of people here have said that their kids have been invited to birthday parties at Chuck E. Cheese, and they’ve stayed, EVEN though they hate that place so much. If it was my (hypothetical, future) kid, I’d definitely go for the “drop-off” option, because a place like that, packed with so many stimuli, would send my anxiety into overdrive.
@Emily, yes you can drop your kids off and leave. I have done that before for a birthday party my son was invited to. Even if I wanted to stay, I wouldn’t because I had four other kids at the time whom I wouldn’t have dragged in there with me. When you have more than one kid whose ages are all within a few years of each other, you can’t drag the whole family places like that. If I couldn’t have just dropped of my kindergartener and left, he wouldn’t have gone to the party.
Not knowing about this absurd policy, I dropped my daughter off there for a friend’s SIXTEENTH birthday party. She couldn’t get in until her friend’s dad got stamped for her. That’s right, folks — old enough yo drive herself there, old enough to WORK there, and she can’t get in without the stupid hand stamp.
Emily, my kids are 5 and 6. I did stay for the party because it seemed to be what the birthday boy’s mom preferred. She had invited the entire class, so it seemed like a lot to ask her to manage all those kids. Besides, it was my kids’ first time being there and I thought they’d feel better being able to check back with me from time to time.
The moms stood around doing nothing but chatting, but considering it was a Friday evening and I needed a break from everything, I was happy with that.
Sounds like CEC needs to change its policy at least for kids over 15, LOL.
I think the last time I was at a Chuck E Cheese’s I was 13. I’m trying to remember if it was still Showbiz back then or they had changed the name already. Either way I hated that place. I remember going to Showbiz a few times as a kid but the time at 13 was my first “birthday” party. Even back then I thought it was hell. I’m very sensitive to noise and I got so overwhelmed I wanted to cry. I think eventually I excused myself and went to wait in the car because I couldn’t take it any more. Thank god they didn’t have that stupid KidCheck thing back then. I just walked out, no one stopped me and there were other kids my age going in and out.
I’ve since avoided the place like the plague. My oldest child is 12, I don’t think she’s been there unless she went with one of her friends when she was younger. My middle daughter and oldest son went last year (I think) for a birthday party. My husband dropped them off and picked them up and all they could talk about was the stupid hand stamp thing which meant they couldn’t leave with the friend’s mom. They were 9 and 10 at the time and thought it was idiotic and saw no point to it. I doubt I’ll ever take my kids there. We have 5 kids and the cost would be astronomical.
So far my kids don’t feel they’ve missed out on anything.
I came across a CEC a few years back and decided to peek in for nostalgia’s sake. Not the place I remembered. The thing that really struck me right at the outset though was the gates, the place was full and there was a hoard of people pressed up against the exit trying to get out. The security process to let people out was very slow, and seemed to involve lots of long conversations during which no one could leave the place. I swore the place off when I saw that.
I’m surprised they don’t have (more?) problems with people abusing the fire exists and setting off the alarms. Which seems like it could cause real problems of small children running into parking lots and getting hurt.
If it were really about keeping small kids from wandering out without an adult there has to be a better way… like someone at the door to stop small kids, and ask adults in large parties to make sure their kids haven’t adopted any others on the way out. (I know a family with 5 kids that came home from church one day with 6, oops!) If any hand stamp is involved is should be for special instructions. And no it should not be default to assume that all kids there are at risk of being snatched by a non-custodial parent or otherwise.
So apparently adults can’t get in unless accompanied by a child and children (and I use that term loosely) can’t get in unless accompanied by an adult. Good grief, nothing like forced togetherness.
To the people who are saying that Chuck E. Cheese is a private business, and therefore we shouldn’t care what they do, we have more options to react to something than just “They shouldn’t be allowed to do that!” and “It’s their right, so no big deal.” There’s also, for example, “Sure, it’s legal, but it’s also f@#$ing stupid.”
We don’t have the same right to demand private businesses do what we want as we do with public entities funded by taxpayer dollars, and of course we SHOULDN’T. But we do have every right to:
* Point out how ridiculous it is
* Point out how such policies feed into a growing sense of hysteria among the general populace
* Draw attention to how ridiculous it is
* Refuse to cooperate if we find ourselves subject to these ridiculous, but non-legally binding, policies
* And, of course, refuse to give them our money
Which is all anyone here is doing or talking about doing. Because sure, it’s legal, but it’s also f@#$ing stupid.
Oh, and another thing we have a right to do: get irritated!
@Jen Connelly–I understand how you felt, because I suffer from panic attacks as well (since I was fourteen), and they’re usually caused by crowds, noise, confined spaces, bright, flashing lights (and sometimes bright colours), and the sensation of being shaken around. Anyway, does KidCheck make any allowances for that kind of situation, for people who are obviously old enough to manage themselves, but are feeling overwhelmed by the environment of Chuck E. Cheese, and for whom staying inside the restaurant would do more harm than good?
That is truly over the top.
I didn’t have time to read through all the comments, and usually I find this type of thing incredibly annoying, but in this and other ‘kid zone’ type places I actually don’t mind. And here is why: CEC (and other ‘play zone’ type places) are where ‘a kid can be a kid’. Every one I’ve ever been in has been incredibly overcrowded with a plethora of kids running everywhere. Which to me is a cacophany of life which is marvelous! I go in there, turn the kids loose, and, at best, keep an eye on them as they thread through the crowds to play. What’s going to happen?? (NOT a kidnapping for example!) Anyway, the only things really to be concerned about are 1) older kids playing too roughly and 2) kids dashing outside with new ‘friends’ when their playmates leave. Since the place is so overcrowded and there are always crowds around the doors, I can totally see me bussleing out the door with my 3 and not noticing I’ve got a tailgater! And I wouldn’t expect their parents to notice right away either. Peace of mind to know we have to stop and kid count when we get checked at the door. But the invisible stamps are stupid. The one’s I’ve been to had different animal or flower stamps and the whole family just got the same kind. But in places I *expect* kids to be running crazy I don’t mind this, not as a ‘beware the kidnapper!’ ploy but as a ‘make sure the 4 year old doesn’t follow another 4 year old out without anyone noticing’.
I think making it optional is the perfect solution. My nephew has severe ADHD and when he was little, he’d run off anywhere and everywhere he could–actual escape attempts. CEC was one of the few places my sister in law could go where she could relax and not worry he’d run out into the street or go hide in a dumpster or whatever. It’s a lovely service to offer for her. When my mildly autistic son was younger, I appreciated such services in quieter venues because he got to practice his freedom and I didn’t have to watch over him to make up for his lagging executive and decision-making skills. But to require it is indeed degrading and annoying, and makes us into fearful suspicious folk wondering if the nice dad in the corner is planning to steal our kids.
Michelle — precisely. The freedom to do something does not except anyone from criticism by private individuals, and does not preclude the possibility that harm is being done that extends beyond the immediate participants.
@Anna–What if parents ust did this on an “ad-hoc” basis, by, say, dressing their kids in identical red T-shirts before each Chuck E. Cheese outing? Most kids who are young enough to get lost in a place like that are too young to object to that kind of arrangement, and bonus points if you actually choose red, because that way, the pizza-sauce stains on the kids’ shirts won’t show as much. I know it sounds outlandish, but my mother used to do something similar with me when I was a kid–she put bright-coloured ribbons/shoelaces in my hair, so I’d be easier to see by drivers in parking lots. I wasn’t an irresponsible child, I just (obviously) had a few years when I was too small to be visible from the driver’s seat of a pick-up truck or minivan.
What we have to ask ourselves is, “When did a social outing such as going to a kid oriented restaurant become something that requires a risk/threat assessment and security precautions?
I realize this is somewhat off topic but what really pees me off is the policy of restaurants here in America for the past 20 years of not preparing burgers any way below medium well with some restaurants grilling burgers only well done. All American chain restaurants, even those overseas, have this crazy policy. Back in the early 90s, 4 people died of E. coli and 190 people got sick and they traced it back to undercooked ground beef. Well, 4 people dying (Perhaps because their immune systems were bad) out of millions of people consuming rare burgers during the past 50 years is extremely rare (no pun intended). I’ve been eating rare hamburgers now for the past 47 years and I haven’t had as much as a stomach ache over it! BUT like we do with our children, it’s America’s obsession with over reaction to rare (again no pun intended) occurrances.
Here in Dubai, they use a bracelet system at various supermarket play places. For about $10 an hour you can sign your kids (under 12 or so…) in and they can play while you shop. Exit is based on some combination of the number on the bracelet and your kids recognizing you. The staff seems pretty practical about it. (I washed my hands and the bracelet got wet, numbers washed off, no problems). And they are usually pleasant young people who will help the little ones set up paints etc. Its very cool and sort of a godsend if you dont have a sitter.
Sadly, I know many many (American and UK)parents who are afraid to let their kids go even to these places.
But what is the point of such a system if you, the adult, have to sit in Chuck C Cheese!?!?
I went to CEC as a child. I didn’t think it was fun AT ALL. I fell off of a ride, my money was wasted on arcade, the food was awful, ugh. Should I go on?
I’m sorry, all of you are complaining about the system right now, but I know damn well as soon as one you guys’ children get abducted the first place you’re going to blame is chuck e cheese for letting a random stranger leave with your kid. They only do this so they don’t have problems with stupid people who put blame on someone else when it was their job to take care of their kids.
I’m new to your website…love it! And I’ve been browsing back through the archives with amusement!
I hate CEC with a passion, but my in-laws and husband think it’s great. Crappy pizza, overpriced games, chaos, etc. Really, with multiple kids that are much shorter than all the arcades and get easily lost in the maze, I just want the freedom to let them go put their tokens wherever they want and play a game without me having to stand right next to them, because my biggest fear is that they would run out the front door. My 3 year old is terribly bad about that. I’m not a helicopter parent my any definition of the term, but I certainly don’t want my kid wandering in the parking lot while I’m chilling inside thinking all is okay.
But even with the stamp thing, there is no assurance that it won’t happen. Last time we were there I watched my 3 year old run away from our area and toward the door and the teenager working there just let him go while I was yelling for him to stop!!! HELLO?!?!?! A little common sense and common courtesy here please? Is that not what community is supposed to do? Hey, I see a kid running out the front door with no adult, I can assume that he’s not supposed to do that, especially with a mom yelling from 50 feet away…I think I’ll just let him go, yeah…that’s the right thing to do!
First off. You should respect the KidCheck system at CEC. It’s not a prison for your children , it’s to keep your child safe. It’s so that you don’t have to worry that no one is abducting your child. If you plan on having someone else take your child home it’s not a hasel to make ask the KidCheck employee to give the other person the same stamp as you. Overall I’ve always been told its better to be safe than sorry. And that’s what the KidCheck system is , child abduction may be rare but it still happens , so you should respects what the business does.
Interesting opinion that started this thread. As a former senior manager for 10 yrs id like to comment. First let me state that I personally (and many other managers) felt that the kid check program had run its course for a number of reasons and needed adjustment and /or elimination. Of course that was from the perspective of our job, as it was difficult to execute it perfectly for a number of reasons. HOWEVER..
When looking at the big picture (and over all buisness perspective of an executive) its important to understand a few key facts:
1) Chuck E Cheese as you know it fundamentally began in the 90’s after a complete over haul of the entire company. One of the foundations that saved the buisness and anchored the company at the time was kid check. There wasvideo surveilance and camera cell phones, etc etc like now where almost everything is seen by big brother. There WAS a very high concern and focus among the general public on childrens safety. Proof of that is kid check. If it hadnt been such a high concern of parents the program would have fizzled instead of helping the company turn around and achieve the growth as a buisness it did. Which brings me to number 2…
For every person who feels like the original poster here about kid check there are literally 100 other customers who feel completely opposite and literally will cause a very vocal and unmitigated scene anytime something isnt executed correctly there.
Now, my personal feeling is that they should do away with it. It was only ever meant to ASSIST parents in watching their children, as the restaraunt is not an accredited day care, never claimed to be, and isnt paid to be. It was a feature designed in a decade where there was a huge desire in the consumer base for that. I believe in todays world people have developed back towards watching their children and its unnecessary. However, knowing from first hand experience howany people loudly pitch a fit when something goes wrong there, from a buisness stand point it is A HIGHLY RISKY AND QUESTIONABLE action to take as an executive that could cost the company an incredible loss of money and buisness were they to even eliminate it for a trial period.I cant honestly say if I were one of the executives Id pull the trigger on that despite what I believe.
The bottom line is this, and relates to just about any buisness, if the company spends money paying labor to perform a job or position such as that you can safely assume they elect to because not having it risks a large amount of disatisfied customers and a potential loss of profits. And believe me, despite what you might think, labor cost is a primary concern of any buisness of that nature. If they could eliminate something that requires staffing open to close 7 days a 7 days a week without risking sales they would in a heart beat.
Kid check continues to exist because the majority of chuck e cheese customers WANT IT and are VERY VOCAL they expect it.
Hope this clarifies things for anyone curious. When you step back and try to look at things as if your a company executive, consider why you would maintain something like that, you can usually figure out a reasonable estimation of the answer.
Cultural pollution? You poor, poor dumb r-tard. You think it’s overkill until one of your kids walks away with a rapist. Then you’re going to say they didn’t do enough. There is no security force there so you’re obviously exaggerating to prove your worthless point. How about just grow up and deal with it. Do you think they really want to have to do that? They do it to cover their butt.
What is a couple is going through a messy divorce and the father or mother isn’t allowed to see the child, but they show up to Chuck E Cheese and try to walk out with them? The kid won’t protest. The other parent wouldn’t notice because they are probably sitting at their table stuffing their fat face with pizza.
It’s not a police state. You are just a bored stay at home mom that needs to find something wrong with your life so you can complain about it and feel relevant again.
Really? Does anyone have anything better to talk about? It American people. If you don’t like Chuck E. Cheese, don’t go – it’s that simple.
We’ve turned into a country that allows “big babies” to dictate what is and is not correct in their own minds and push it on others. Stop! Enough!
Here’s how it works…(a fictional story)
I’m a crack addicted mother of three who is not permitted to see my children because my dealer boyfriend is a convicted child molestor. My 4 year old daughter is having a birthday party at chuck e cheese and I’m going there to take her back.
I wait until she is alone and approach her, she is thrilled to see me because I AM HER MOTHER. I tell her I brought her a birthday present and she needs to come with me to the car to get it.
I blow past the security that wants to check my stamp, they also asked the girl if she was alright and she happily said “yes this is my mommy”, but my not allowing them to see my stamp despite the girl saying she was fine, these jerks call the cops. They check the cameras and identify me and the car we got into. And quickly find us at my boyfriends house.
Now I and my boyfriend are back jail AGAIN because some jerk at Chuck E Cheese decided to inconvenience everyone leaving with their own kids. I wish they would mind their own business.
You’re all right this is a bunch of crap and I too am writing a letter.
(usually when children are abducted it is by someone they know and is likely not aware that something horribly wrong is happening)