Man on Plane Must Change Seats — He’s Next to 2 Boys. Australians Outraged!

Hey Folks! Encouraging news in our war on predator panic! Over in Australia, on Virgin, a man named Johnny McGirr, 33, was seated next to two unaccompanied boys, aged about 8 and 10. The stewardess made him move because that’s the airline’s policy: Women can sit next to kids, men are apparently just too likely to pounce.

McGirr — a fireman — was understandably embarrassed. He blogged about it and now he’s everywhere srraaaedfr
in the Australian media today
, saying: “[The attitude of the airline] is ‘we respect you but as soon as you board a Virgin airline you are a potential paedophile’, and that strips away all the good that any male does regardless of his standing in society, his profession or his moral attitudes.”

He also had a new suggestion for Virgin, to keep people safe:

No male should sit next to anyone. A spare seat will be allocated next to any male at any time to ensure the safety of women and children.

Virgin — Jeez what a name for this story — is now reconsidering its policy, the way British Airways did a few years back. (Remember this incident? And its outcome?) But perhaps even better is that the Sydney Morning Herald reports more than 44,000 readers nationwide responded to an online poll about  the policy, and 87 % agreed it’s  ‘‘sexist and suggests all men are potential pedophiles.”

They sound like Free-Rangers!  – L

Maybe all children are not in danger from all men at all times?

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127 Responses to Man on Plane Must Change Seats — He’s Next to 2 Boys. Australians Outraged!

  1. Mike in Virginia August 10, 2012 at 8:37 pm #

    Company policy!? Wow. I am a business traveler and used to travel every week, usually Monday morning and Friday afternoon with other business travelers. Once, due to a flight cancellation, I ended up on a standby flight with an entire plane full of teenagers and a few of their chaparones. The plane was full, but a seat opened up because one of the girls were sick. When I got on the plane and tried to take my seat, there was someone in it because they kids had all been playing musical seats. I told them it wasn’t a problem, just point me to the empty seat and I’ll be happy. But that wasn’t good enough for one of the mothers who got outraged at the flight attendant for letting me on the plane. As she put it, the person who bought that seat isn’t here, but she still paid for the seat, so they are not allowed to put me in it (I held back a chuckle because, as a business traveler, I know that’s just not how it works).

    After losing that battle, she did another musical chairs to move the chaparones together in one row and have me sit with them so I was not sitting next to one of the teenage girls. I was so exhausted and glad to finally get on a flight home that I didn’t care what they thought about me. But the most annoying thing of it all is, I was planning on putting on my headphones and going to sleep, but instead ended up stuck talking to this woman for the entire flight because she was very talkative and I’m just not rude enough to ignore her. We never discussed the seating arrangement issue, but I did make it a point to talk about my own kids and by the end of the flight, I think she got to understand what I good guy I really am, but I’m sure it didn’t change her thinking any.

    What’s funny about the situation is that the whole plane was full of teenage boys and girls mixed in seats all over the plane and all of the adults were in one row. There was probably some inappropriate touching going on on that plane, and it wasn’t from me.

  2. Taradlion August 10, 2012 at 8:39 pm #

    For Pete’s sake. As if a potential pedofile has a choice : isle, window, or near unaccompanied minors. Moronic.

    I wish I had a choice. Isle, window, or next to a fireman. If in the teeny, tiny chance there was an emergency, that is exactly where I would want my kids. Duh!

  3. keobooks August 10, 2012 at 8:44 pm #

    I am hoping that this would be illegal in American owned companies. In California, they deemed it sexist to charge more for women’s haircuts. This is far more serious than that.

  4. Brian August 10, 2012 at 9:14 pm #

    I was on a flight from Belgium where a Hassidic Jew asked to change seats because he would be sitting next to a young woman. He said it was considered impure for him to sit next to her. While Jewish myself I do not honor requests for bigoted behavior. I refused to change on grounds that they would not do so if someone was refusing to sit next to a Black person. Eventually the woman ended up next to me. I felt really bad for her because it was almost like she had done something wrong.

    You can’t even change seats on a plane for 1000 legit reasons (BO, perfume, fat people, talkers, etc.). But if someone else wants to move YOU due to THEIR prejudice the airline will move YOU. Not even just allow the bigot to move. They will move the person that the bigot is targeting.

  5. Ben August 10, 2012 at 9:46 pm #

    4 or 5 years ago, I boarded a plane with 2+2 seating for a short flight, got comfortable and started reading. Eventually the seat next to me was filled by a young girl, probably around 5 or 6 years old. Her parents were sitting about 3 rows in front of us. I smiled at her and just continued reading my book. She smiled big at me and said “HI!” in a really loud voice. I exchanged a few nice words with her, and then offered her my window seat if she wanted it. She eagerly took me up on my offer. Once we switched seats, I could perceive at least 2 dozen eyes watching me as if I were the goddamned elephant man.

    No one directly challenged me, but man people were not even being subtle staring at me as if I were making some huge societal faux pas. The girl cheerfully engaged me in a conversation about what my book was about, where I live, where I was going and why, she told me about her dog, etc etc etc. I expected at any moment to be confronted by one of the passengers or the attendant, because of how they were staring.

    When we landed, her dad came to get her, and thanked me for humoring his daughter for the whole flight apologized for her bothering me the whole time (to which I obviously responded that it wasn’t any bother at all). It’s disturbing that her parents had no issue at all with the situation, but it seemed to bother about half the plane.

    If the airline had asked me to move, I would have made one big frickin hell of a stink. I wonder if the airline would even care that her parents didn’t mind.

  6. David August 10, 2012 at 10:02 pm #

    Hey, I’m a fan of the proposed policy- I love ending up with empty seats next to me.

  7. Mike in Virginia August 10, 2012 at 10:06 pm #

    @David, I love empty seats too, but in these days of oversold planes, there is never an empty seat. Instead of having a child next to you who takes up no room at all, you may end up sandwiched between two large adults who take up more than their fair share. I always prefer the seat next to a child if, for no other reason than they are then not behind you kicking your seat.

  8. Heather August 10, 2012 at 10:10 pm #

    @Brian, I have offered to move my seat on a plane to make a religious man or woman more comfortable. On a flight back from England I was placed directly on the end of a row next to two religious men (one middle-aged the other teenaged.) My seat was not appropriate and I looked across the plane at a young single man next to a religious woman and suggested we switch.
    He readily agreed and both religious parties visibly seemed relieved to be away from an awkward situation that they were clearly uncomfortable with as it is related to rules of modesty (not the the woman herself was impure but that it would not be modest for him or her to share such close quarters as they are not married or related.)

    For further info look up “Shomer Negiyah” to understand the rules/customs of this practice.

    The very nice thank you that we both received was unnecessary as neither of us were really “put out” by the switch and instead of two people being comfortable five people were comfortable.

    On ElAl there are actually sections of the flight for just men or just women to make it easier for the religious folk to feel comfortable.

  9. James August 10, 2012 at 10:24 pm #

    If they were that concerned about those heathen kids trying to commit a crime against this man, they should have moved the two kids to the back of the plane. 🙂

  10. Edward August 10, 2012 at 10:28 pm #

    I’m wondering if the woman was upset about being forced to sit next to a couple kids. Never be afraid to challenge this ridiculous “policy” on any airline. And if they tell you “This plane will not take off unless you change your seat.” Tell them, “This plane will not take off.”

  11. Brian August 10, 2012 at 10:41 pm #

    Heather, there used to be separate drinking fountains in the south. It doesn’t make it right. The end of those practices only came when good people stood up and said, “we are not following these rules” and we don’t care that it makes racists feel LESS COMFORTABLE. Maybe flying next to a woman would have helped those men see woman in a different light and opened their minds a bit.

    You voluntarily changing seats is fine if it made you happy. But airlines helping to enforce such biases is an abomination.

    Edward, your option is a great way to get kicked off a plane these days. I think the response of the man in this article is much more appropriate. Refuse to comply, complain, if they force the issue, let them enforce it and then send written communication to the airline and media.

  12. Your mother August 10, 2012 at 10:46 pm #

    @ Brian. Moving away from fat people is a legitimate non-prejudiced reason? …right.

  13. Paddy Joe McGillicuddy August 10, 2012 at 10:58 pm #

    I usually select the seat long before I board the plane. In “Special requests”, I put “far away from kids”, due to various incidents with some individuals having been noisy (screaming babies, yelling toddlers/infants), kicking the seat (early/mid preteens), etc.

    If the seat I pick meets that one criteria, I’m not switching.

  14. Sarge Misfit (@SargeMisfit) August 10, 2012 at 11:04 pm #

    I’m a HAM. Hetero Anglo Male. All the @#$% in the World is my fault. Racism, sexism, pedophilia, religious persecution, homophobia, yep, I get blamed. Hell, I bet I’m behind alien abductions, too.

  15. Pastiche August 10, 2012 at 11:09 pm #

    I agree with the policy. It is too bad that the airline did not arrange the seating ahead of time to avoid an embarrassing moment but as a mother I would not want my child seating next to a strange man on a plane.

    The fact is 99% of paedophiles are male. I’m sure this man is a lovely person but the fact is he is 100 times more likely to rape a child than a woman.

    Are we now going to sue the insurance companies who charge men more in insurance because men are 100 times more likely to have an accident?

    It’s called statistics. It’s called trying to prevent the most horrifying incidence by calculating and diminishing risks.

    Why doesn’t this man put his energy into fighting paedophiles, who are from his sex rather than demonizing a society trying to protect itself from a deadly disease within the mal

  16. exurbanmom August 10, 2012 at 11:13 pm #

    @Ben, what kind of idiot parents put themselves in a row 3 rows away from their 6 year old? I would have put myself and the kid in one row, and sent my husband back to sit with you…It’s crucial for a responsible parent to be close to a minor child on an airplane, in case of emergency evacuation, etc. You are very kind to be so agreeable with the child.

  17. Earth August 10, 2012 at 11:16 pm #

    Hi Lenore-

    One of your links is wrong I think: Remember “this incident” and its “outcome” — both point to the same place.

    What was the outcome?

    Also, Pastiche, you are certifiably insane. Taking your insanity to its logical end, what do you recommend we do on planes to deal with the fact that most child rape occurs within families, not by strangers?

    It’s called statistics, Pastiche!

  18. Ben Hughes (@benrhughes) August 10, 2012 at 11:22 pm #

    @Pastiche: I guess you’d be OK with priests on planes being separated from kids, seeing as they are over-represented in the paedophile ranks. Oh, and then there’s those pesky Muslims, best not let them fly at all – could be terrorists!

    Best keep any black men off the plane all together too – with such high rates of incarceration any of them could be violent criminals.

    Oh, and lets not forgot: most child sexual abuse is perpetrated by relatives or family friends, so we’d best make sure that parents can’t sit with their kids.

    One last, little point: there’re on a goddamn PLANE, surrounded by people. Even on the vary rare chance that the random strange man seated next to the minors *was* a paedophile, how on earth could he act on his impulses?

    Pure lunacy.

  19. Charles J Gervasi August 10, 2012 at 11:31 pm #

    I have spent many nights comforting my infants so my wife could sleep and build her legal practice. I’ve earned the right to be considered an equal parent, so I would be incensed. The airline would hear from my wife’s office I’m sure.

  20. jane stanley (@janedstanley) August 10, 2012 at 11:35 pm #

    Insist your kid is seated next to a gay man. Statistically it will be much safer.

  21. pdw August 10, 2012 at 11:40 pm #

    Exactly what do they think a paedophile is going to do surrounded by all of those people?

  22. Paul Lyren August 10, 2012 at 11:49 pm #

    The quicker we stop humoring people about the laws and rules they have made up based on belief – the faster we move on to a hopefully more enlightened place as a species. Half the world is male and the other half female (roughly). At some point we will need to deal with that in an adult manner.

    As for all men being pedos – When I was 12 I spent 6 weeks in Italy with a host family. I flew by myself which was an amazing adventure for me as I remember. It was 1983. On the return trip I started talking to a gentleman in his 40s who was wearing a cowboy hat. He was a scrap metal dealer from Texas. He said he had a daughter my age and a son about 15, and we talked for a long time in the 1st class lounge for American Airlines about soccer and comic books and music – all the things I loved as a kid. He knew rather a lot about this stuff which led me to think he must actually have kids of his own. I was in the 1st class lounge because I was an unaccompanied minor and he was there because he was a rich business guy. When we started boarding I headed to my coach seat, and he to his spot upstairs in the 1st class section of the 747. I thanked him and said how nice it was to meet him, and all the polite things my Mother taught me to say to people who are kind to you. A few minutes later he came back to coach with an attendant and took me to 1st class. He apparently traveled a lot and was well known to the crew so they did him a favor, and I got to go into one of the coolest areas of a plane ever!

    I recall the strange looks directed at us when people found out he was not my father. I am not sure what they thought was going to happen even if the cowboy hat wearing man was a pedophile. We were on a plane! There were 2 sections (the super cool upstairs bar and the seating down below) and 2 bathrooms we could go to if he forced me, but there were tons of people around and Flight Attendants as well (back when there were rather a lot more of them, and they were known as “Stewardesses”). He slept for a lot of the flight, but we talked during dinner again for an while and played chess. When we landed and headed for the baggage claim, he had a red cap get my bags. And when my Mom and Grandma met me at JFK he introduced himself and told them what a great kid I was. He was headed back to his family in Houston the next day. We invited him to join us for dinner, but he had 2 meetings to attend that day, and we parted ways.

    Today – this would be frowned upon at best and probably against policy on most major carriers, which is so unfortunate as it is one of my most pleasant memories of traveling and of the kindness of strangers, and it gives the trip I took at that young age such a pleasant ending. It is traumatic for kids to travel on their own, and I have always gone out of my way to say a kind word or pass on a deck of playing cards (which I used to always carry with me when I traveled – although I now just use my iPad…) to kids on their own on planes. But people do stare and furrow their brows and assume you are a predator – when I am on my own. When I am with my wife and 4 year old son – not so much. Although pedo predators can certainly be Fathers and Husbands. If all men on their own are statutory rapists in waiting, we are simply giving ourselves over to irrational fear, and potentially ruining any instances of help or future kindness by men who have been branded without cause.

  23. Dakota0526 August 11, 2012 at 12:15 am #

    I picture the robot from Lost in Space desperately waving his mechanical arms….DANGER, DANGER!

  24. Monica Jones (@Dirty_Hooker) August 11, 2012 at 12:16 am #

    “The fact is 99% of paedophiles are male.”

    But 99% of men are not pedophiles. It really is important to understand statistics, and you have failed.

    Not only are a small percentage of men pedophiles, but the vast majority of those men will molest children they know, not embrace crimes of opportunity. Seriously, how many men can get away with raping or molesting a child on a plane full of people?

    Don’t be ridiculous. You’re part of the problem.

  25. Pastiche August 11, 2012 at 12:39 am #

    @all those people who reacted with such hate mongering

    No-one, including myself, argues with the fact that most men are not paedophiles. However, as 99% of paedophiles are male and as an airline wants to protect its passangers as well as appease the safety concerns of parents sending their children unattended, I think this policy is sound.

    It is true that family members are more likely to abuse than strangers, however, that’s due to increased opportunity and level of trust.

    As a child, I was almost kidnapped by a man in a car while I was playing on my front lawn, I was 4. He offered me candy. I SCREAMED I don’t talk to strangers and he drive away. I was lucky.

    I guess the concern here is that a paedophile (more likely to be male) would use the opportunity of the flight to forge a trust with these unprotected children, possibly gaining access to contact information, schedules, whereabouts, schools, etc., that could aid in an assault.

  26. Uly August 11, 2012 at 12:58 am #

    I agree with the policy. It is too bad that the airline did not arrange the seating ahead of time to avoid an embarrassing moment but as a mother I would not want my child seating next to a strange man on a plane.

    Then travel with your child. If you don’t want your child sitting next to males/blacks/atheists/evangelicals/muslims/smelly people/mexicans then your only option is to purchase a window seat for your child and make sure you’re always in the middle seat.

    Those of us in the land of the sane will be much happier at not having to cater to your total illogic.

    The crucial number is not how much more likely a child molestor (not all pedophiles act on their impulses, fortunately) is to be male than female. Instead, it’s how likely that any random male is a child molestor in the first place. And THOSE odds aren’t all that great.

    I guess the concern here is that a paedophile (more likely to be male) would use the opportunity of the flight to forge a trust with these unprotected children, possibly gaining access to contact information, schedules, whereabouts, schools, etc., that could aid in an assault.

    Sure, that’s a hundred times more likely than your random pedophile simply looking up the location of schools CLOSE TO HOME and picking up a kid with no connection to him whatsoever.

    It’s not like schools, playgrounds, kids are hard to locate, so hard that you have to resort to hoping you sit next to an unattended child on a plane.

  27. romeosidvicious August 11, 2012 at 1:03 am #


    While you attempt to use statistics, and fail to provide any sources, what you are actually basing your agreement with this policy on is fear. No policy or law should be based on fear. Can you cite any cases of children being molested on planes? If so then how many children fly as UM compared to any cases you can find? I am willing to bet that your children have a higher chance of being molested while at school than while in a plane surrounded by other people. Fear cannot dictate policy and when it does it needs to fought. I mean the fear of zombies is at an all time high but I hope to never see government or corporate policy address it!

  28. Claire53 August 11, 2012 at 1:05 am #

    Pastiche – you are the reason Free Range Kids exists.

  29. Monica Jones (@Dirty_Hooker) August 11, 2012 at 1:05 am #

    I didn’t see any hate-mongering. I see people telling you you’re wrong. That’s not the same thing.

    Using your logic, no man should be allowed on a plane at all, since men are statistically more inclined toward violent crime than women. Any man could snap at any time! Keep them all in cages!

    I’m sorry about what happened to you, but that doesn’t prove anything about airlines, even if it’s true that the man in the car intended to kidnap you. A man on a plane can’t exactly run away with the child in the seat next to him. As far as pumping a kid for contact info, this is also extremely unlikely. It’s far easier for a pedo to get access to a kid he already has regular access to. It takes someone really committed to track down a kid he might not even live in the same city with and then try to get access to him. That’s not how they work.

    Statistically, anything is possible. I could snap and claw the eyes out of the person next to me. There’s no good reason to have a policy protecting people from that possibility, though, since it’s a very small chance, and the policy causes more harm than it prevents.

  30. Sarge Misfit (@SargeMisfit) August 11, 2012 at 1:13 am #

    @Pastiche While it may true that 99% of all pedophiles are men, what percentage of all men are pedophiles? What percentage of all child abusers are mothers?

    Just because I am a man does not make me a monster. It is because of such reactions as yours that I cannot enjoy reading a book in the park. Not because of anything I have done, but because people like you are so afraid that I always get harassed by the cops. All for enjoying a park and a book.

    And for being male.

  31. Kimberly August 11, 2012 at 1:24 am #

    Pastiche I find it ironic that you spew that people are ‘hate mongering’ against you, yet you don’t realize the drivel you’re posting? Your mentality is the reason why there are problems to begin with, and it’s people like you that warn my son against.

    Regardless I traveled as an unaccompanied minor a lot as a child, and it was usually my father dropping me off at the Airport and my Grandfather picking me up, my memories of that were once a Male Pilot took me into the cockpit to show me how things worked before the flight and allowed me to sit in First Class, where I did end up sitting next to a business man who had daughters my age and all I can remember is being terribly jealous they had a papa like him.

  32. Pastiche August 11, 2012 at 2:00 am #

    If you are participating on this forum to merely hear your own opinion on the matter you obviously don’t understand what healthy debate is about.

    Insulting me indicates that you are uneducated and feeble in mental faculties. Especially as you jump to generalizations that are ludicrous.

    Obviously my opinion is not so ridiculous if airlines chose to enact these policies. I have the right to agree with them.

  33. Beth August 11, 2012 at 2:02 am #

    Pastiche, do you have a son? Have you taught him yet that when he grows up, it will be perfectly normal for people to assume he’s a pedophile (at what age will YOU start assuming he’s a pedophile?), he won’t ever be able to prove that he’s not, and that he should just cheerfully accept this as a fact of life?

  34. John August 11, 2012 at 2:07 am #


    Airlines have many ridiculous policies. This is one of them. That you agree with them shows that you are truly “uneducated and feeble in mental faculties.”

  35. Monica Jones (@Dirty_Hooker) August 11, 2012 at 2:14 am #

    “If you are participating on this forum to merely hear your own opinion on the matter you obviously don’t understand what healthy debate is about.”

    Exactly. So why are you so butthurt that people disagree with you?

    “Insulting me indicates that you are uneducated and feeble in mental faculties. ”

    Calling people uneducated and stupid doesn’t make you look any better, no matter how you phrase it. Just sayin’.

  36. sassystep August 11, 2012 at 2:15 am #

    @Pastiche – Is your father still alive? Would you allow him to be alone with your child? You realize that he is more likely to commit offenses to your children then any stranger on the airplane, right? Do you drive in cars? Do you realize how high the odds are that you will get into an accident?

    This is discrimination based on gender and it’s illegal, not just in specific countries but even under the UN.

  37. dmd August 11, 2012 at 2:16 am #

    Pastiche, I think, unfortunately, your experience as a child is now coloring your current view. I guess I can understand why you would feel that way, but that also makes me sad.

    Let’s say for argument’s sake you are right that 99% of pedophiles are male. How far should we go to protect children from them. Should men always be kept away from children? Should we ban men from being school teachers, coaches, instructors, and any other role that comes into contact with children? Or is there something unique about a plane that makes a child so much more likely to be a victim? Minors are flagged by flight staff, so they are aware of who they are?

    Since the vast majority (I don’t have the numbers but let’s say 75% for argument’s sake) of pedophiles are known to the child either through family or acquaintance, should we keep all family and acquaintances away from children?

    Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?

    As far as the airline justifying your opinion, companies all over have strange, unusual, and unjustified regulations that not only don’t protect children or anyone else but are done based on common fears … generally, fears of some sort of lawsuit, not really of protecting anyone. A Philly school recently banned a student for having HIV because he might infect someone. (They recently reversed that view.) At one time, women couldn’t get some surgeries without their husband’s agreement and signature. That’s long-since been thrown out the door. Just because a company has a rule or regulation does not make it right and does not justify condemning someone for their gender.

  38. Pastiche August 11, 2012 at 2:29 am #


    Perhaps my experience does play a role here as maybe the other participants on this forum who have maybe been fortunate to not have had bad experiences colors their perspectives.

    I personally think that this is not such a shocking revelation. We know that airports racial profile as do the police (which is wrong) so I am not shocked that airlines have their own means of discrimination. In this case though, I don’t think it is such a big deal. Are men really dying to sit beside unaccompanied children? If so, why?

    Maybe only stewards should sit beside unaccompanied children. Maybe that’s the answer.

  39. John August 11, 2012 at 2:35 am #


    So, since 100% of paedophlies are adults, you wouldn’t object to a policy that no adult can sit next to an unaccompanied child?

  40. Mike in Virginia August 11, 2012 at 2:39 am #

    I don’t expect to change anyone’s mind on the matter, but when I was about 7, my parents dropped me and my brother, 14, off at the movie theater. It was the first time I got to go to the movies without my parents and it was a big deal to me. While my brother was engrossed in a video game, a man came up to me and offered to give me quarters to play games. I refused. He then offered me candy. I also refused that. I didn’t scream or go for help (this was 1980, before “stranger danger” was a common theme), but I just told him no. He asked me what movie I was going to see and who I was with (which I answered, not knowing better) and he continued to ask me if I was sure I didn’t want some candy. At some point, my brother came to get me and the man left (I think employees at the theater may have escorted him out). I never told my parents, which is good because they were probably already nervous about leaving me alone with my brother for the first time, but not because I didn’t want them to know, I just didn’t realize what had happened until a few year later when McGruff came to my school and taught us all about stranger danger.

    But here is what is important. I am a Free Range parent, and I intend to stay that way. I am convinced that pedophiles are rare, pedophiles that act on their impulses are even more rare, and rarest of all are pedophiles who act on their impulses to kidnap or molest children in public places. But even if it is one in a million, chances are, at some point in your child’s life, they will come across a pedophile. As a matter of fact, they probably already have. They may have even talked to one. I believe that when I was 7 years old, I did (unless someone has a better explanation about what happened). But even without having been taught how to respond, I avoided a bad situation completely on my own. Imagine how your child might deal with such a situation if you actually teach them some common sense? Not “strangers are bad” but “strangers are good” and, if you ever feel like you are in an unsafe situation, ask a stranger for help. Teach your children what is appropriate and inappropriate behavior for adults and for your child interacting with them and they will know when something is out of place. And even if they don’t, the chances of that random pedophile your child encounters actually being able to do something is so astronomically rare that your attention is best spent on preventing problems that have an actual chance of occurring (like your child being sheltered, afraid and unable to form healthy relationships).

    And another thing. If you don’t think it is sexist and teaching your child the wrong message, but rather just using statistics to practice safety, then consider that the vast majority of men who are incarcerated for sexual crimes are black. If it makes you uncomfortable to tell your child to avoid black people (and I hope that it would, because that’s pure racism), then it should make you just as uncomfortable to have them avoiding men. And, if anything, it makes them LESS safe, because it provides a false sense of security by focusing on the wrong thing. The best approach, the free range approach, is to teach your children how to be safe, then TRUST them to be safe on their own. That is the best way to put the statistics in your favor without harming society (and your child) in the process.

  41. Monica Jones (@Dirty_Hooker) August 11, 2012 at 2:39 am #

    “Are men really dying to sit beside unaccompanied children? If so, why?”

    Probably not. But what does irritate them, and rightfully so, is to have strangers assume they might be pedophiles based on absolutely nothing. I’m sure it could also be irritating to be forced to move from a seat they liked (aisle or window) to ease someone’s else’s unjustified fear.

    I remember when I was a teenage girl being offended that store employees would follow me around assuming I was going to steal something. I wasn’t a thief any more than the vast majority of men are pedophiles.

  42. Monica Jones (@Dirty_Hooker) August 11, 2012 at 2:45 am #

    I also wanted to add: We assume this “don’t trust men” thing is only a matter of “better safe than sorry.” Consider that men are more likely than women to be fire fighters and police — the exact people you want your child to go to when they are in mortal danger. Do we really want children getting themselves into dangerous situations because they won’t trust the people who are supposed to help them?

    When I was a kid, I got lost all the time. I had a terrible sense of direction. I soon learned that it was OK to ask anyone who looked like they might be able to help me. This meant I talked to countless strange men. Not one of them ever tried to molest me or kidnap me.

  43. lskenazy August 11, 2012 at 2:46 am #

    right right right! and teach the 3 r’s: recognize, resist and report abuse. can’t childproof the world — world proof your child!   Lenore Skenazy Author of the bookand blog, Free-Range Kids Host of Discovery/TLC International’s “World’s Worst Mom” (the title is ironic!). Here’s a 2-minute sample. Busy twittering at FreeRangeKids And while we’re at it, also author of the trivia book that puts the fun in short term memory loss:”Who’s The Blonde that Married What’s-His-Name?”  646 734 8426 (cell)


  44. Mike in Virginia August 11, 2012 at 2:50 am #

    “Are men really dying to sit beside unaccompanied children? If so, why?”

    Not really. Maybe not any more so than a black woman who wants to sit at the front of a bus. I mean, the back seat is just as comfortable as the front seat.

    Look, I don’t mean to try to equate this at the same level as civil rights, and it is certainly the case that men have historically enjoyed many privileges that women have not, but I don’t think you can be in favor of equal rights of any kind (race, sex, orientation, etc.) without seeing what is wrong with this policy.

  45. pentamom August 11, 2012 at 2:55 am #

    “As a child, I was almost kidnapped by a man in a car while I was playing on my front lawn, I was 4. He offered me candy. I SCREAMED I don’t talk to strangers and he drive away.”

    Where was the part where you were almost kidnapped?

  46. Merrick August 11, 2012 at 2:57 am #

    Wait a minute — Sarge – are you abducting aliens???

  47. pdw August 11, 2012 at 3:01 am #

    ((“As a child, I was almost kidnapped by a man in a car while I was playing on my front lawn, I was 4. He offered me candy. I SCREAMED I don’t talk to strangers and he drive away.”

    Where was the part where you were almost kidnapped?))

    Just like this gentleman was just about assaulted:

  48. sassystep August 11, 2012 at 3:04 am #

    love it pentamom! I can’t stand all of these stories that most helicopter mom’s tell about how they (or their kids) were approached by someone and handled it properly and protected themselves as cautionary tales. This is an airplane for goodness sake. If a man started touching my kids in a bad way and they didn’t cause a ruckas then I sure didn’t do my job as a parent.

  49. Mike in Virginia August 11, 2012 at 3:07 am #

    “can’t childproof the world — world proof your child!”

    I LOVE that. Oh, and if my story above wasn’t enough, about four weeks ago, the local sheriff, along with the FBI, conducted a joint raid on my neighbors house (4 doors down in a tightly packed, upscale suburb). It turns out, a man living there was caught accepting child pornography and they have been collecting evidence on him for over a year. All this time, he was in the house and neighborhood kids played with him. Seriously. Not only that, but he is out on bail and is still in the house and has a “no contact order” for children.

    Still, I let my kids play outside unsupervised.

  50. Pastiche August 11, 2012 at 3:16 am #


    The man was sitting in the back seat with the door open. He said: “Want some candy little girl.” His accomplice was driving.

    Does that sound like a normal event to you? I was a FreeRange raised kid. Hence, why I was outside playing unsupervised.

    Fortunately, I was smart enough to protect myself. Let’s hope your kid is if the same event were to occur.

    In conclusion, I think that it should be to the parents of the unaccompanied child travelling to decide who they are comfortable with sitting beside their children. Not a policy.

    Then, let’s hope that all of your children are safe. Regardless, of your decision.

  51. Buffy August 11, 2012 at 3:20 am #

    @Pastiche, if you have daughters, you know they’re gonna, most likely, marry a man someday, right? I’d be interested to hear how you expect her or them to have positive relationships with boys and men when all you’ve taught is fear, sexism, and prejudice.

  52. pentamom August 11, 2012 at 3:36 am #

    Pastiche — I didn’t say that it was a normal event or that I don’t think the guy was up to no good.

    I’m saying someone saying something to you, you responding appropriately and running away, and him leaving without any further action, are not “almost kidnapping.” “Almost kidnapped” is grabbed or at least an attempt at grabbing.

    By that standard, we “almost” have crimes committed against us every day — when the car thief notices our doors are locked and moves on, the car is “almost stolen.” When the mugger scopes the area with ill intent, notices that there are twenty other people walking down the street and doesn’t even consider attacking us, we’re “almost mugged.” And when the possible molester says one thing and drives off when it clearly becomes infeasible to pursue you, you’re “almost kidnapped.”

    I think the concept of “almost had a crime committed against me” needs a higher standard than “made one verbal attempt at a distance to involve me and immediately gave up when it became a bigger risk for him than for me.”

    The fact that someone made a wholly failed attempt at harming you that didn’t actual place you in danger for any amount of time, and at the tender age of four you reacted properly and completely escaped harm before even being physically accosted, should make you LESS inclined to think that children are defenseless against overwhelming numbers of powerful predators, rather than the opposite.

    “In conclusion, I think that it should be to the parents of the unaccompanied child travelling to decide who they are comfortable with sitting beside their children. Not a policy. ”

    Why? Why should passengers have control over airline seat assignments in preference to other PAYING passengers, when there is NO DANGER on an airplane? Even if your highly unfortunate experience were properly characterized as “almost kidnapping,” it could not have happened on an airplane full of people.

  53. John August 11, 2012 at 3:37 am #


    So you would have no problems being required to change your seat if the parent of the child sitting next to you demands it?

  54. Chris Helbling August 11, 2012 at 4:05 am #

    I can only shake my head at this story… It’s tragic. I’m a guy, with a beautiful wife and adorable (grown) kids, and a former volunteer firefighter. Back in 1988 I had a flight to Kansas where I was seated next to a wonderful nine-year-old girl. She and I talked the entire trip from NYC, and her parents, sitting across the aisle, were only concerned that she was bothering me. Far from it. She was engaging and brilliant (and made the flight go by so quickly), and an inspiration to me for when I had my own daughter. I even traded seats so she could have the window (by far my favorite seat). There was nothing but friendship and an appreciation for her parents not thinking that I was “dangerous”. Most of us guys want nothing more than to make life better and more fun for kids. I know I enjoyed my childhood, and have a little sister (who was very fond of snakes when she was four… go figure…) and three brothers. I know what family is, and I’d protect these little monkeys with my life. And read to them from Calvin and Hobbes. I feel for this guy.

  55. pentamom August 11, 2012 at 4:47 am #

    pdw, did you read the comments on that article? It makes it even more clearly ridiculous. The “aggressive guys” who “almost assaulted them” were being “aggressive” (defined as coming up to them and asking twice whether they’d been to the Calgary Stampede) because….

    they were handing out free tickets to the Stampede.


  56. Pastiche August 11, 2012 at 4:54 am #

    I only recalled my experience as a child to illustrate that even as a FreeRange child in what was supposedly the golden age of FreeRange parenting there were real persistent dangers.

    I have been asked to move seats on airplanes by parents and have done so willingly. Who cares where you sit you’re stuck anyway. If my moving made a parent more comfortable then great.

    I think many people on this forum are underestimating the danger of paedophilia. Sadly, it may take having their children harmed or the children of people close to them before they realize this is no laughing matter.

    As a female teacher, I am required to follow certain protocols with all my students male or female such as: never being alone with students in a closed room, not exchanging personal emails, text messages, etc. As well as going through police checks every few years.

    These kinds of precautionary measures do not apply to the stranger sitting on the plane with your child. If unaccompanied the child may seek solace in that person. If they happen to be a bad person they could use that moment of unaccompanied vulnerability to their advantage. If you want to take that risk knock yourself out. I would not.

  57. pdw August 11, 2012 at 4:55 am #

    pentamom – yeah, I’ve been following the story. The part about the tickets is probably just made up, as the CS doesn’t market tickets by sending people to wander around parks (we’re talking about an undeveloped nature preserve three times the size of Central Park here) handing them out. But “have you been to the Stampede?” is the usual greeting to a tourist that week and Wawra’s response is simply stunning.

  58. Kimberly August 11, 2012 at 4:56 am #

    @ Pastiche – I replied already but I wanted to add something else, as I was getting ready to take my son to Jujitsu where he is learning to defend himself, I thought about something .. Half of the grown men I know lost their virginity to their babysitters, actually more than half.. My stepfather lost his virginity when he was 9 years old, that’s the same age as my son. A lot of times those don’t get reported because we teach our girls that men are perpetrators, but not that women are. I have read far more and experienced far more horrific stories that men have experienced with the women incharge of them as young adolescent males.
    In another story I had a friend that would allow her lesbian friend to solicit her daughter because she thought it was amusing but got thoroughly offended when her male friend said the exact same thing to her daughter. I don’t find that fair, at all.

  59. Sarge Misfit (@SargeMisfit) August 11, 2012 at 4:56 am #

    No, Merrick, I’m not abducting aliens, but I bet someone will blame me and other HAMs for any that are occurring.

    Oh, and I’m not an axe murderer either. Haven’t murdered an axe in ages. Now a hatchet job, that’s another thing altogether.

  60. John August 11, 2012 at 4:59 am #


    So the policy should apply to all adults, right? No adult shoud be permitted to sit next to an unaccompanied child because of the danger.

  61. Kimberly August 11, 2012 at 5:12 am #

    (Sorry to spam, I should have just condensed my thoughts into one post but alas, kids running underfoot) And about Risk… There is a wonderful quote by Helen Keller who if you recall was blind, and deaf.. “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. Security does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than exposure.”

    There is no controlling risk, it’s out there, every day you breathe you are taking a risk. There is no way around that. What you can do is prepare yourself for the worst, expect the best, prepare for the worst but know that life is going to happen regardless.

    As to your “I think many people on this forum are underestimating the danger of paedophilia. Sadly, it may take having their children harmed or the children of people close to them before they realize this is no laughing matter.”

    I don’t think anyone is, I certainly am not, my daughter was assaulted when she was 5, I was raped as a child, so was my mother, and step mother, however not every person you meet is a danger, and what a sad world if you feel they are. Stop making assumptions about our character or experiences.

  62. Mike in Virginia August 11, 2012 at 5:17 am #

    “As a female teacher, I am required to follow certain protocols. . .” it all makes sense now. Many of the teachers I know feel the same way you do. It is because the school administrators and law enforcement continually “educate” teachers on the dangers and continually reinforce the fear through over-protective policies. It is hard to think objectively about the situation when you are constantly being told about the dangers and what to look out for. But you know what? There is no correlation between the increased paranoia and imposed restrictions and an actual decrease in child abductions or molestation. The crime statistics don’t support it. But there is a definite affect on our children (for the worse).

  63. GiveMeABreak August 11, 2012 at 5:32 am #

    “The man was sitting in the back seat with the door open. He said: “Want some candy little girl.” His accomplice was driving. ”

    It is quite clear that Pastiche is trolling you. Please don’t feed the trolls.

  64. Donna August 11, 2012 at 5:50 am #

    Gosh who realized that airplanes are so dangerous. I flew unaccompanied several times a year every single year from the age of 8 (divorced parents in different states and grandparents in 2 other different states). Never once over all those flights was a rapedby my aisle mates. I must have been the most unappealing child ever. Now my self-esteem is completely destroyed.

    “I have been asked to move seats on airplanes by parents and have done so willingly. Who cares where you sit you’re stuck anyway. If my moving made a parent more comfortable then great.”

    I have absolutely no problem moving my seat when asked by a parent so that a family can sit together. I have a problem with people being asked to change seats for no reason regardless of who is asking. The ONLY way a parent should be able to dictate who sits next to their child is to buy the ticket next to their child. If you don’t want to accept the risk of a man – you know those people who comprise HALF the population – sitting next to your child without your presence, don’t send your child on a plane unaccompanied. End of story. You can have whatever irrational prejudices you want. They rest of the world need to not cater to them.

    It matters where you sit because some people have definite preferences as to where they sit on a plane and specifically request those seats, often paying more for the option of doing so in these days of paying for every little thing on a plane. I always sit in an aisle seat. I’m not going to change to a middle or window seat and be uncomfortable to suit somebody’s irrational prejudice. To allow a family to travel together? Absolutely. To allow someone to continue to exhibit an irrational prejudice? Absolutely not.

    Actually, I change that. I will give up my aisle seat for first class. So I think that any parent who wants a male to move away from their child should be required to buy that male a first class ticket. I bet the objections stop right away under that rule.

  65. Cheryl August 11, 2012 at 5:55 am #

    I agree that on the surface, it is very sexist. I would be outraged if my child had not had a very creepy experience with a man sitting next to him while he was an unaccompanied minor 13 years ago. My son told him exactly where we lived and gave him our phone number because this guy seemed like a cool guy who claimed to have worked at a local business and acted like he had mutual acquaintances. I checked with the local business and supposed mutual acquaintances and they had never heard of him. We lived in a small town of 60 people (in the middle of nowhere) and the guy claimed to have been there. I thought we had trained our kids to not give strangers any information, but it wasn’t hard to engineer a bit of familiarity from information my son gave him in conversation. Coincidentally, we received several hangup calls from a blocked number for a few months after.

    It is unfortunate that we live in a world where we cannot trust others. From a statistical point of view, seating a female next to unaccompanied minors is less likely to result in an assault or attempted assault that would create a huge legal liability for the airline. Just like statistically speaking, mammograms for women under 50 are a waste of time and money. Tell that to the woman whose cancer was detected early because of a mammogram before the recommended age.

  66. Monica Jones (@Dirty_Hooker) August 11, 2012 at 6:15 am #

    The mammogram example doesn’t make any sense. There’s no actual harm in women under 50 getting mammograms. There IS harm in treating all men like sexual predators.

    It’s not just “on the surface” sexist. It’s sexist. The end result of your story is that….you got some weird hang-up calls? It’s possible your hang-up calls were completely unrelated, but even if they weren’t, this guy didn’t come to your house or try to contact your son face to face. It’s also possible that someone sitting near your son overheard the information and that this man had nothing to do with it.

    It seems like the solution to this is teaching kids not to give out private information, not to treat all men like predators.

  67. pentamom August 11, 2012 at 7:01 am #

    “There’s no actual harm in women under 50 getting mammograms. ”

    Cheryl already pointed out that it costs money. If it’s really unnecessary, that’s a whole lot of money wasted, and some of that money comes from those who can’t spare it.

    Besides, there are other harms such as excessive exposure to radiation, or false positives (which cause mental suffering, unnecessary biopsies, and sometimes unnecessary and potentially harmful treatment.)

    NOTE: THIS IS NOT AN ARGUMENT AGAINST ROUTINE MAMMOGRAMS or in favor of the “if it saves just one person, it’s worth it no matter how much trouble it costs others” argument. I’m just pointing out that it’s not quite accurate to say there’s “no harm” in doing mammograms on everyone. The potential harm is almost certainly well outweighed by the gains, but you can’t say there’s “no harm.” You can hardly ever say that about anything, for that matter.

  68. pentamom August 11, 2012 at 7:05 am #

    Thanks for the correction, pdw. It sounds like if it’s a sort of traditional greeting in that season, the aggressive young males were just a little put off at being ignored so they tried again. (And who knows, maybe they were a little lit up and over-enthusiastic? It’s still a bit much to perceive a real threat there.) The original poster over there was certainly a piece of work.

  69. pentamom August 11, 2012 at 7:12 am #

    “These kinds of precautionary measures do not apply to the stranger sitting on the plane with your child. ”

    Yes, that’s right, they don’t. Because there is no such thing as molesting a child when people are sitting two inches away from the child on the other side, two feet behind in full view, flight attendants walking the aisle, and no escape for the perp if the slightest alarm is sounded. What you are describing is equivalent to someone sitting in full view on an open sidewalk with dozens to hundreds of people in visual distance and earshot, in an area surrounded by electric fence, with people patrolling the streets making sure everyone (the child in particular) is comfortable and safe, molesting a child. The scenario you are coming up with is completely unrealistic, that’s why we’re not worrying about it.

    If your childhood experience was intended to illustrate that there was no golden age of the past, it serves to illustrate something we all knew. I guess that’s why I assumed it was pertinent to something else, like what could happen on an airplane, since that’s the topic at hand.

  70. Pastiche August 11, 2012 at 8:35 am #


    That is the kind of experience I’m talking about. Thank god your son is safe.

    Unfortunately, sociopaths are often very charming and are considered nice guys.

  71. Donna August 11, 2012 at 8:43 am #

    “That is the kind of experience I’m talking about.”

    Really? We’re supposed to stigmatize half the population because of hang-up phone calls that may, or may not, be related to a conversation on a plane? You seem to miss the part of Cheryl’s story where NOTHING HAPPENED. It is not “thank god your son is safe.” The man in question DID ABSOLUTELY NOTHING UNTOWARD for the boy to be safe from. I said “thank god my child is safe” when we got rear-ended by a drunk driver and totaled the car. I don’t say “that god my child is safe” after every completely uneventful car ride to school. This was a completely uneventful interaction with a male person. He may have lied (who knows), but who cares since nothing ever came of it?

  72. Beth August 11, 2012 at 9:58 am #

    Pastiche is a teacher? Great. Now along with teaching her own children that all males are pedophiles, she is passing along her distorted world view to other people’s children, including their sons. I hope she is a troll, because this is just nauseating to think about.

  73. pdw August 11, 2012 at 10:48 am #

    pentamom – yes, there is lots of drinking that goes on during the Stampede, and I would not be surprised if they were a little sloshed, and thus might have been a bit overfriendly. But you would think that a retired cop could differentiate sloppy drunk or overenthusiastic from aggressive or threatening. Everything he has posted/published so far seems a little “off”.

  74. CrazyCatLady August 11, 2012 at 11:34 am #

    Pastiche, unfortunately, MY sons will never be safe. My sons are considered predators and will always be under suspicion with never a shred of evidence. Why? Why? Sure, they are only 7 and 10 “now” but at some magic point, they will cross the line and always be thought evilly of. Not because of something that they, or even someone that they know did. No, because of stupid mothers who can’t actually think for themselves. They are subject to having mothers call police if they smile at a baby or little child. Not because they are harboring evil thoughts, no, they only want to do what has helped our species survive – being friendly to others.

    Oh, and the only convicted child molester that I personally know, is female. She molested the 10/11 year old boy next door. And went to jail, leaving her own two little boys with their dad. Thank goodness he is a good man. I felt so bad for those boys and their dad. And horrified at her actions.

  75. Marion August 11, 2012 at 12:18 pm #

    *head desk* What’s next? Children are more likely to be molested by family members than strangers on a plane.

    Using certain people’s logic, a woman should never allow the father of her child, her brother, or her own father near her child. No male teachers, coaches, or neighbors. Avoid all businesses with male employees. Maybe start a commune with only female members?

    And if the child is a boy, don’t allow him near any of his siblings of either sex, since he may be a pedophile. He shouldn’t be allowed to have any friends either, because he may be a pedophile.

    I hate the fact that my husband and sons will always be seen as potential pedophiles by the overly-paranoid. God forbid these people are raising boys to believe they are “99% likely” to be pedophiles.

  76. John August 11, 2012 at 6:00 pm #

    A rule like this isn’t just sexist, it lacks so much common sense. Goodness, even if Jerry Sandusky was sitting next to a boy on a plane it’s highly doubtful that even he is going to molest the kid right in front of the other passengers, the flight attendant and everybody walking down the aisle. Yes, I know, people are going to ask me, “So would you want YOUR son sitting next to Jerry Sandusky”? My answer would be that Jerry Sandusky is a creep and I would not want him hanging around my kid but there is NOTHING he can do to him on an airplane in front of everybody!

  77. awombatsweb August 11, 2012 at 7:15 pm #

    Reminds me of a few years ago where I was approached by a young girl who walked up to me upset saying she couldn’t find her Mum. Right on cue, a woman started yelling at me, accusing me of trying to steal the child so I could rape her. In this world, any male who works with youth is mad. I certainly won’t.

  78. DataShade August 11, 2012 at 8:05 pm #

    Hmm… does this make Virgin the go-to airline for female pedophiles?

  79. Beth August 11, 2012 at 8:08 pm #

    Maybe Pastiche was the OP on this one…

  80. Adrienne August 11, 2012 at 10:38 pm #

    Amazing how people view the world, or men that is, these days! In the 80’s when I was about 9 or 10, I flew from Nebraska to Michigan to visit my grandparents alone for the first time ever. You’ll never believe who I sat in between. That’s right, a father was on my left and a young man (I’d say in his 20’s at the time). Then there was me in the middle. I remember the young man wearing a leather jacket, longer hair and and earring. Kid of looked a little rough. The father seemed like your typical loving father who took his kids to see the captain (I don’t know if you can still do that these days). Then there was me, this shy little girl who kept to herself at that age, so I just sat there playing quietly with my Barbie. We were in the front row, so when the meal came, our trays were in the arms since there was no seat in front of us. Get this, it wasn’t the father, or the stewardess who helped me, but this young man on the right, who helped to get my tray out of the arm of the seat and get my meal ready so I could eat. Needless to say, I made it to Michigan in one piece and absolutely no harm was done! So I say “YAY for men!!!” If my kids ever fly alone on a plane, I’m pretty sure not only the stewardess would help them, but whoever they’re sitting next to would too, regardless of sex! I hope that one day these helicopter parents, businesses, insurance gurus, media, government, and whoever else will soon realize that the human race will de-evolve if they don’t stop feeding off this fear that everybody is out to get all the children!

  81. brooke August 11, 2012 at 10:50 pm #

    My mother was molested in a movie theatre. She was 11 and was with her sister. The man sat down next to her and fondled her for the entire movie.

    My father and uncle were repeatedly molested by their school principal.

    My daughter was molested by a daycare provider as well.

    I was fondled by my school nurse in the 80s.

    1 out of 3 children will be molested, so I don’t think this policy is absurd.

    If you haven’t been molested you are lucky.

  82. mom2girlandboy August 11, 2012 at 10:56 pm #

    I am pretty much a free-ranger and flight attendant. My airline has no such policy, but on board we often help customers change seats for various reasons as long as it is a reasonable request. Some reasons are a bit questionable if you’re trying to be strictly pc: religious observance by men not wanting to be seated next to a non-related female, away from someone who is extremely odorous or obese, etc.. In such cases we try to be discreet and are often quite creative in handling these situations without drawing attention to the “non-pc” issue, though of course some in our industry would do well with some sensitivity training. We are in the business of customer service, and if seating someone away from the “offending” passenger, even if it is not totally pc, helps them reduce the misery of sitting in a 19 inch seat for hours and hours, then we do the best we can to accommodate them if it can be done discreetly. On another note, you would be surprised the how often passengers do sneaky things under a blanket or coat regardless how much we walk up and down the isles. Some aren’t even sneaky about it.

    That is why I am somewhat torn on this particular issue. Although we have no policy in place, we tend to err on the side of caution with unaccompanied minors. Unaccompanied minors getting lost or sent to the wrong destination made the news and we have become more vigilant. We live in a litigation-happy society and not a few men are fearful of being accused of something unsavory toward a child. And in this scenario the airline would more than likely also be named as defendant in legal case.

    As an employee I would voice my opposition to such a policy if it were in place. However, consider the fact that this practice ,if not policy, is probably as much for the man’s and the airline’s protection as the child’s. Until our society no longer lives in pedophile paranoia, sadly this is the reality we face. I will, however, challenge any of my co-workers who wish to change a man’s seat for this particular reason. Our duty is to check the unaccompanied child’s well-being throughout the flight, regardless of who is sitting next to them.

    Being a free-range parent is even harder if you are employed working around children. You sometimes have to follow guidelines you disagree with. I can’t imagine being a free-range school teacher.

  83. brooke August 11, 2012 at 11:06 pm #

    PS. I only told my mother about the school nurse when I was older. There are many children who won’t tell their parents what is happening. The school nurse kept telling me that “I wanted it” because I was complaining about female itching.

    Pedophiles can’t change, so they will be attracted to little children no matter what the circumstances. For instance, if a pedophile is sitting next to a child, he will still get turned on. He may do something as innocent looking as running his hands up the child’s back. They are attracted to that soft, baby skin, so they may just want to touch the child’s arm. Anyone can feel the difference between a sexual touch and a neutral touch.

    I’ve read a few of the comments and they are disturbing. I wonder what kind of “that can’t happen to me” world you people live in. The man who molested my daughter (and his daughter) had a daycare in his house. Many of the parents at the daycare did NOT believe my daughter or his daughter when they told everyone he was “peeing” on them. Until his daycare was shutdown, people still came to drop their children off (obviously not everyone).

    It was the same thing that happened to my father and uncle. They told their mother over and over again that their principal was molesting them. Their mother kept telling them “Not to make things up.” and sent them right back to school.

    To the people who think pedophilia can’t happen to your child, you better take the wool off your eyes. It happens.

    Also, there aren’t any laws set up to protect children against pedophiles. You may think there are, but there aren’t. It always boils down to “he said, she said”. For instance, the man who “peed” on my daughter has full custody of his daughter ,even though his daughter repeatedly told everyone she could that he was doing bad things to her.

  84. Mike in Virginia August 11, 2012 at 11:16 pm #

    No one on this site denies that pedophilia exists, nor the statistics on child molestation. What we point out are the very rare statistics about “stranger molestation” and the fact that we are doing more harm to our children and society by keeping our children under constant watch and, in this case, treating men as criminals. A MUCH better approach is to teach our children how to recognize and react to threats and teach adults how to listen and respond to children when they alert us to threats. We’ve all heard about the children who won’t say anything when something bad happens or the adults that don’t believe them when they do. Therein lies the problem. Let’s focus on fixing that.

  85. brooke August 11, 2012 at 11:24 pm #

    @mike…Pedophiles aren’t rare. I don’t think you have your statistics right. You admit you were being picked up by a pedophile, then you go on to say they are rare?

    At the Elementary school I went to the same thing happened, there awas a man lurking around telling us kids that we could be in the movies. I told my father and he nearly beat the SHIT out of this guy. (Of course, my father WAS molested) We all know movie producers don’t hang around elementary schools looking for raw talent.

    I think people are grossly underestimating pedophilia. I’ve dealt with it for the last two years, in which I’ve had a very disturbed 6-year-old on my hands. But guess what? No one believed my daughter but me. There are parents who KNOW that she is claiming Shaun “peed” on her, but still allow their children to be around Shaun unaccompanied.

    Pedophilia is just like any other sexual preference. They will have to act again. It’s like telling me not to have sex with a grown man again. I can go a long time, but eventually, because of my sexual preference, I will go for it.

    It makes me very distressed that many of you feel that pedophilia isn’t a big deal. Wow. It’s HUGE. How many children did Sandusky molest before he was caught? Do you know how many of those children probably told their parents? What do you think their parents did? Sent them back becasue like mike says, “Pedophilia are rare” and “pedophilias don’t normally act.”

    This is why my daughter was moleted. I was warned not to leave her at a daycare with a man , but then I had all these other people telling me that because my husband was dead (no father figure), she NEEDED a male in her life. I had people telling me what many of these comments say, “Not all men are pedophiles”. Well, most pedophilies get jobs around children. They do act and that is why they insert themselves around children.

    I wish I hadn’t been so naive. I wish I had listened to my parents and never left my daughter at Shaun’s house. Don’t be so naive to think it can’t happen to your children.

  86. Axl August 12, 2012 at 12:53 am #

    Me thinks brooke and Pastiche are one in the same.

  87. SaraLu August 12, 2012 at 1:49 am #

    Not only that Axl, but I’m amazed that one family has suffered so much molestation while most families go through generations of lifetimes without any.

  88. brooke August 12, 2012 at 4:53 am #

    No, I’m not the same person. Come on people. That’s like me saying that everyone who disagrees with me is the same person. Perhaps Axl and Sara are the same person.

    Please, don’t undermine my experiences either. It’s very painful for us. It’s painful that, again, people are saying, “I’m doubtful of those stories.” Everything my daughter has suffered through and everything this little girl who is trapped in her father’s house has to go through should be enough to alarm anyone.

    Molestation is a silent epidemic. I don’t think most people know about. It’s shameful and embarrassing because of the way people are treated. For instance, I’m basically being called a liar by Axl and Sara. Wow. Someone who has been verbally belittled on top of sexually abused might shy away from a board like this. No one wants to be called a liar, especially when they aren’t lying, but sharing experiences. And especially if they have been belittled all their lives.

    But please, please don’t undermined what I’ve been through. Just because it hasn’t ever happened to you, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen.

    Axl and Sara, honestly, those comments should have been kept to yourself.

    1 out of 3 children will be molested. Most people aren’t TALKING about it. So to assert sarcastically that many families go generations without being molested is a blanketed, personal view. you don’t have any evidence of that, while I have evidence to refute what you are saying.

  89. brooke August 12, 2012 at 4:55 am #

    And Sarah-Honestly, do you think that most people are going to tell you over cocktails, “I was molested as a child.”?

  90. brooke August 12, 2012 at 5:02 am #

    I am very passionate about the cause. If you do have an experience you’d like to share please email me. The more people who come forward with their stories, the less people will question their validity. No one should have to be ashamed and embarrassed about being sexually violated. The more we start talking about it, the more change can come. Right now too many people are living in silence.

  91. Mike in Virginia August 12, 2012 at 5:45 am #

    @Brooke, I can tell you are passionate, and I am truly sorry that you have suffered. I am not here to put anyone down, and most of the readers here are not either. But as a man, I have reason to be passionate as well, because I am being attacked and treated as a criminal because of the acts of a few. I have also heard the 1 out of 3 statistic. Its terrible if its true, but this article is about men on a plane, and Lenore posted the story because it is relevant to free range kids because it is another example of society overreacting and trying to solve a very real problem the wrong way, and harming our children and others in the process. I may have said pedophilia is rare (it is – and stranger molestation is the most rare of all, most of it comes from people already close to the child). I also said that, despite the very few numbers of pedophiles out there, chances are, your child is going to interact with one at some point in their life, just as I did. I handled the situation well. Let’s teach our children to do the same. The answer is NOT to assume that all men are potential pedophiles and keep them from working around children, or sitting next to children on airplanes, or to keep our children locked up so they can’t explore the world on their own. Not only does that do very little to actually protect the children, it is ultimately harmful to their personal development and, if men are to be treated as criminal just for being born with a penis, then it is a horrible form of sexism (and I am pretty sure, illegal). No one would advocate using the higher incarceration rate numbers to keep black people out of jobs where they might commit crimes just because of the color of their skin. That would absolutely be racism and, just as important, not helpful in actually preventing crime.

  92. Mike in Virginia August 12, 2012 at 5:53 am #

    Also, Brooke, you talk about a “silent epidemic.” I am interested in understanding that better. Did something happen in the last decade to suddenly create an outbreak of pedophiles? Maybe they’ve been around all along and no one reported it? Maybe there is so much talk about it now and urging people to “be on the lookout” and “report suspicious behavior” that otherwise innocent things like a man reading a book in a park or a father hugging his daughter are getting reported and inflating the numbers? Maybe that old man really was just offering that kid a lollipop. I honestly don’t know, but what I do know is that I want to raise strong, confident children who know how to handle themselves in the face of all kinds of dangers of which, pedophilia is just one.

    As Lenore so eloquently stated, “You can’t childproof the world, so worldproof your child.”

  93. brooke August 12, 2012 at 6:36 am #

  94. Ben Trafford August 12, 2012 at 8:11 am #

    Brooke, 1 in 3 children will not be molested. That figure is incorrect. The high end estimates are roughly 1 in 5 for females, and 1 in 12 for males (in North America). The low end is 1 in 7 for females, 1 in 20 for males. Of those, 30%+ are family members, and 60% are friends of the family.

    So, even assuming the high end figures, the chances of “random guy on airplane” being the stranger who is capable of child molestation would be about 1 in 50 for females, and 1 in 120 for males.

    Incidentally, all of this information is easily available and sourced correctly from the Wikipedia article:

    This sort of baseless fear-mongering is -exactly- why this site is so important.

  95. Kip W August 12, 2012 at 10:58 am #

    The fear comes and goes in waves. I was in grade school in the 60s, and we were warned about “the friendly stranger” and told stories about unspecified bad things that could happen. Enough to keep me paranoid, though I don’t suppose it took much. Before that it was fear of the White Slavers and the Needle Men. That stuff sells newspapers, and has always left reality back in the dust.

  96. Mike in Virginia August 12, 2012 at 11:02 pm #

    In response to the link that Brooke posted, I’ll first say that I wasn’t going to respond at all. It is off-topic for one thing. We were talking about whether men should or should not be allowed to sit next to child on an airplane and the link is referring to human trafficking and child-pornography on the Internet. It is also one of the worst examples of overreaction I have seen in a long time, and I thought perhaps it was just posted to bait a response. But, okay, I took the bait and, after thoroughly reading the website and watching the video, I have a few things to say.

    First, I was completely appalled by what I saw. No, not the human trafficking or child pornography. I’ve seen those statistics before. It was the fact that Elizabeth Smart was a spokesperson for what I can only describe as the most extremist response imaginable to what is, admittedly, one of the most terrible crimes around. And the numbers are indeed high, but even this website alludes to the fact that most of these girls are immigrants caught up in human trafficking rings and most of the others are endangered runaways ( and these children often come from broken homes. The Elizabeth Smart case, in which a middle-class, white girl was kidnapped from her suburban home, is the rarest of the rare, and yet she has become the spokesperson because middle-class white people see her and get scared and angry and then overreact with statements like “not one more child.”

    What this organization is promoting is declaring a national state of emergency (involving FEMA, no less) to gather all of the law enforcement and other available officials to conduct raids on homes where these exploited children are believed to be in order to rescue them. A map is provided by the Wyoming DA’s office showing where these children are believed to be located, based on something only referred to as a computer “serial number” (there really is no such thing, though they may be referring to MAC addresses – more on that in a minute). The information is dubious at best, and is put together by the DA of one state, using information that isn’t clear. I am going to say that the state of Wisconsin does NOT have the same technical resources that the FBI does, and the information on this website does not come from the FBI, that actual federal agency charged with tracking down child pornographers on the Internet. The fact is, it is very difficult to tell with certainty where something is sent from on the Internet. IP addresses are dynamic. MAC addresses (the “serial number” of the network device – usually a router in the home) can be spoofed. These simple tracking methods can be used to find the consumers of child pornography, but not the ones creating it. Those people are much smarter, and do things like upload images to Russian (or other foreign) servers for distribution where the U.S. not only has no jurisdiction, but doesn’t have access to the same tracking tools they might have in the U.S. To find these children, the FBI has to rely on much more sophisticated means than computer IP addresses and serial numbers, they have to perform forensic analysis on photos, they have to pose as traffickers themselves to infiltrate groups that do this stuff. And when the FBI does finally get good information about the whereabouts of a child, they absolutely take immediate action ( Sadly, in the overzealous attempt at locking up the consumers of child pornography, DAs miss an opportunity to make deals with those consumers in order to help track the producers, much like law enforcement does with drug users to catch drug dealers.

    So doing what this organization wants, declaring a national emergency and conducting raids on homes to rescue children based on bad information can’t result an anything good. First of all, we aren’t likely to find these children and, if anything, law enforcement would tip their hat to the real criminals who will go further into hiding, completely destroying years of investigative work. But beyond that, such an action would surely violate the 4th amendment. And since this website likes to show maps, I have a map of my own. Here is a map showing all of the “wrong door raids” that have occurred, many of which have resulted in the death of innocent people (

    Is this what we want? To live in a police state in the hopes that not one more child will be exploited? This is the same kind of fear and anger that results in laws named after children, which don’t work and usually hurt children even more ( (

    But then I come back to thinking about Elizabeth Smart and why it bothers me so much, and why I was inspired to write such a long post. I feel like most of the advocacy for laws named after children and the propsals come from middle-class, suburban white mothers. And this select group of people would be very happy if they could live in their safe, sanitized and gated communities, free of all non-white people, all poor people and all men (since these are the perpetrators of most crimes) and thus be free of all anxiety knowing their children are safe. Of course, this is not the world we live in, nor the world I want to live in. Being a free range parent is about understanding all of the dangers that exist in the world and, despite that, still allowing my children to grow up into healthy, independent adults. When you are not anxious, you are not likely to overreact to bad things happening around you. When you don’t overreact, you can think about practical solutions to real-world problems without declaring states of emergency.

    I’m not super religious, but it does help me to remember this prayer:

    “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
    Courage to change the things I can,
    And wisdom to know the difference.”

    Sometimes people focus too much on that second line, and forget the last.

  97. brooke August 12, 2012 at 11:40 pm #

    Pedophiles have always been around. I think with the advent of the internet, people are having a broader discussion about it. It took my daughter two years to tell me she was being molested. The first two years she couldn’t exactly talk about it because she was so young. The children in his daycare were all under the age of 4, so most, if they were touched inappropriately couldn’t have said anything.

    There was a time where it was appropriate for a young girl to be married to a man older than her father. St.Agnes of Italy is an example. She was a young 12 year-old girl who marytred herself because she didn’t want to marry a 35 year old man.

    Ancient Greeks routinely had sex with young boys. This was seen as acceptable.

    50 years ago if a woman was raped she was told she was “asking for it.” This is true in many cultures today.

    People seem to remember the egregious accusations that led to wrongful prosecutions more than the statistical evidence that accurately portrays the severity of the problem.

    Strong denials, lies, distortions and political games are all part of the push back expected. So just remember for every child abused there is someone who doesn’t want the truth to shine on them.

    Children can be manipulated into almost anything, especially since they want to please adults. My daughter has a very strong-willed personality and we are very close, but even so it took her 6 months of continuous abuse to tell me what her assailant had done to her. I asked her why she didn’t tell me before and she replied, “I was scared.”

  98. brooke August 12, 2012 at 11:43 pm #

    Ben–Those police gave me those numbers. It was actually 1 out of 4 children. I was adding the 1 out of 3 because many people don’t say anything after they are assaulted and based on this website and it’s comments I wouldn’t want to say anything either if I was molested.

  99. brooke August 12, 2012 at 11:45 pm #

    ben–You are also making up statistics. You don’t have the stats how many children are molested on planes.

  100. brooke August 12, 2012 at 11:56 pm #

    Also, statistics can be manipulated. Is it mode or the average? I just looked at two websites that give different stats. Anyone who had to take statistics in colleges knows that the data can be manipulated to suit a certain need. Anyone who has also recently taken a college course know not to cite wikipedia.

    I’m just sharing my experiences with you. I’m not trying to put any “fear” into anyone. Even though BOTH my parents had been molested I still placed my daughter in the care of a man. I wish I had not done this. I did this because of people like you telling me that I was overreacting to the threat of pedophilia. In retrospect, I wasn’t over reacting.

    “The question of how many children are abused and neglected each year in the United States is seemingly simple, but it does not have an easy answer. Because several national and state agencies collect and analyze different data using different methods, the statistics vary. In addition, not every suspicion or situation of abuse or neglect is reported to child protection services (CPS) agencies. As a result, the number of reports likely underrepresents the number of children who actually suffer from abuse or neglect.”

  101. Mike in Virginia August 13, 2012 at 12:24 am #

    Brooke, no one on this site has said anything to indicate they would not, or anyone should not, listen and believe children when they report something. That’s just insane. Saying that the actual danger of stranger molestation is rare enough that we shouldn’t overreact by sheltering our children or condemning men as potential criminals is far from saying crimes don’t happen at all or that we should ignore or disbelieve our children. Free range is all about trusting our children, and that means taking them seriously if something should happen.

    And Ben isn’t making up statistics about airplanes. He is calculating the worst-case possibilities using basic math from other available statistics. Most of the other folks here have pointed out how the likelihood is even less, since there are other adults closely around, including flight attendants regularly checking in, something the daycare you referenced clearly didn’t have.

  102. Ben Trafford August 13, 2012 at 12:39 am #

    Brooke, a friendly piece of advice from someone who was in the minority of kids who are molested: stop. For the sake of your child, just stop.

    Terrible things happen, and they happen to children. But you know what’s wonderful about kids? They -heal-. I barely remember what happened to me, because my parents treated it like any other childhood injury — they gave me lots of love, made sure nothing was permanently broken, and then sent me on my way.

    Am I traumatized? No. Do I have flashbacks, even though what I experienced was violent? No. Do I wander the internet, afraid of “trigger words” and all that? No.

    Terrible things happen, and we get over it…if the wounds are allowed to heal. If they’re not picked at, and picked at, and picked at…by people who refuse to let it go.

    You’re not doing yourself or your child any favor by focusing so much of your time, attention and passion on this subject. There are a lot of people whose sole focus in life is the protection of children. Sexual abuse against children is waning in our society, and has been for over thirty years.

    Don’t let you or your child’s life be defined by the assault, because that’s letting life be defined by the assaulter. It’s letting the bad guy win. Rape is an act of power — don’t give it to them.

    My two cents, for what they’re worth.

  103. Mike in Virginia August 13, 2012 at 12:52 am #

    Well said, Ben. I think Lenore should re-post that on her blog. It encompasses a lot of what free range is about.

  104. Mike in Virginia August 13, 2012 at 12:54 am #

    It is also very inspiring to see that a lot of us have experienced our own childhood traumas, and have moved past it and not let it negatively influence how we raise our own children.

  105. pauly7 August 13, 2012 at 4:23 am #

    This has been a great and very interesting read, as well as a fantastic example on why statistics should always be researched before use.

    As Ben has shown, the ”1 in 3” statistic is wrong, very wrong, and even the statistics given need to be looked into. What locations are the statistics sourced from (some areas have higher/lower instances of sexual assault), what was the demographic, the socio-economic range etc. And of more importance, what constitutes an assault in the study? Someone remembering an awkward touch might seem to be a sexual assault, while for others it might be an actual rape.

    And one should NEVER modify a statistic themselves because ”many people don’t say anything”. If you do that, and the next person does it, and the next…. pretty soon we have a ”published statistic showing that 100% of chldren are sexually assaulted”, and that makes a mockery of those who are ACTUALLY assaulted.

    Sexual assault on children does happen, but it is rare. Especially in a developed world.

  106. Beth August 13, 2012 at 5:17 am #

    @brooke, what ARE the stats then for how many children are molested on planes? The stats will also have to take into how many kids fly each year (or whatever the time frame of your stats is), so a percentage can be determined.

  107. dorfl68 August 13, 2012 at 6:02 am #

    Statistically, and practically, speaking, the probability of being molested on airplane must be ridiculously low. I bet there is not a single example of somebody being molested or even abducted that way. think about it. Even IF the person had any sort of Ill intention, was is s/he going to do? Spend 45minutes with the kid in the plane’s bathroom? That will get attention pretty quickly, givek how few bathrooms are on modern planes. It will be impossible for him/her to take the kid at landing as the flight attendents have all the papers and the UMs exit the plane last. Of all things, this must be the safest way to get your kids somewhere else. And I have done so with mine, internationally, in overnight flights, since they were 5

  108. pdw August 13, 2012 at 6:30 am #

    “A cursory search in Lexis Nexis, a news search engine, turns up 10 instances of child molestation cases aboard airplanes from the past couple of decades, though there have almost certainly been more. It’s likely that many other cases did not make the news, or were never reported by the children.”

    “In a majority of the instances, a man switched seats to be next to a child traveling alone. Also, a significant number of the reported molestations occurred on evening flights, when the victim and any potential witnesses were asleep. Several children reported that when the touching began, it seemed accidental or even well intentioned, and only later crossed the line.”

  109. KC August 13, 2012 at 11:16 am #

    A better way to protect children is to teach them what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour and what to do if they feel in any way uncomfortable.

    Instead of just lumping people in the “all strangers are dangerous” category, parents should be teaching their kids how to assess the people around them. It’s sad because kids need male role models but unfortunately (and understandably) many men won’t interact with kids anymore because there’s too much suspicion.

    oh and it seems a lot of other people are now coming forward:

  110. Christina August 13, 2012 at 1:06 pm #

    Pastiche is a troll and is full of s**t. There are plenty of us who have actually been molested and lived to cheerfully greet another day.
    As a mother of boys I cry bulls**t on Pastiche. I am perfectly happy to have men sit next to my boys. It’s an effing plane. Kinda public, dontcha think? As someone who was molested, I am well-aware of the scenarios to avoid, and a plane is not one of them. We are all strangers until we meet and greet. My boys are smart. I trust them to leave a situation that makes them uncomfortable. And it effing pisses me off that I will have to one day inform them that their maleness will make them suspect for no good reason at all.

  111. Christina August 13, 2012 at 1:13 pm #

    @Ben Trafford – what you said. Yes. It was an event. Not THE event. We are an amalgam of our experiences. No one experience defines our lives unless we let it. And lest people wish to dismiss – 9/11 (in NYC) quite frankly was way more effing traumatizing than certain instances in my youth. But that is another meme.

  112. Christina August 13, 2012 at 1:24 pm #

    @brooke/pastiche – pedophiles are actually a verifiable and rather stably small portion of the general population. So silent epidemic is so bogus it pisses me off. I would never wish it on my boys – I know full well the impact. But honestly, it’s not the end of the world. If it ever happens to my boys, I will be justifiably homicidal. But I will be damned if I will allow it to define my boys’ existence. That, to me, is by far the greater sin. And I know whereof I speak.

  113. Jynet August 13, 2012 at 9:04 pm #

    An Auatrailian friend just informed me that this was common policy in their bus lines 22 years ago (when she worked for one) And that they extended it to not allowing men sit next to solo women.


    Where’s my burka? Clearly we have to protect men from the overwhelming temptation of sitting next to a woman or a child on a transportation vehicle. Perhaps we should has separate planes and trains for women and children… [/sarcasm off]

  114. pauly7 August 14, 2012 at 7:41 am #

    I’ll add a little more for those using statistics to say how common sexual assault of children on a plane could be…

    The incident that started this discussion occurred in Australia. Australia isn’t the US, and especially in terms of air-travel. Flying from one city to another isn’t as cheap or readily available as it is in the US, so any US statistics of possible assaults on children would be many-fold higher than they would be here… there just isn’t as many people flying, especially unaccompanied children.

    The Virgin policy has no logical or statistical basis, they would be better off banning overweight people as they could fall and crush a child. Another non-logical policy, but at least there are statistically more clumsy overweight people flying than there is peadophiles.

  115. David S. August 14, 2012 at 2:11 pm #

    What an absurd policy. But, if he’d been a Catholic priest…

  116. Bill M. August 15, 2012 at 11:50 pm #

    I was an elementary school teacher for 3 years. I know all about the suspicion folks have about being a male teacher.
    I’m not a teacher any longer. Why?
    After 3 years of being mindful of not being alone with the kids, no touching them, etc., I worked for a principal who threatened to report me for innappropriate behavior if I did not resign. She and I had had disagreements over classroom discipline strategies, recess policies,etc. When hired, she gleefully reported to me that she’s never had to fire a male teacher. I thought that was an odd thing to say, but I then understood why.
    I went to some one of the parents and talked to them. They asked me to stay and fight her and the false accusations. (The principal was very unpopular with the families.) After some thought, I decided to resign and leave teaching. I told the parents that even if I win, the taint of being an accused predator was something, I believe, would always be with me. They were sad, but understood.
    The day I left, my students gathered around me, trying to give me a group hug. Many of them were crying. Hell, it was hard for me not weep myself.
    So, would I recommend any man go into teaching at this time? Not suprisingly, my answer is an emphatic NO. Not until this climate of fear changes.And that really is sad. Many of these kids were desperate for postive male role-models. It was my joyful duty to try to be that kind of teacher. One of the best days of my life was when one of my students volunteered the following:
    “Mr. M, do you know why we like you?”
    “Thanks! That’s a very nice thing for you to say. Ok, why?”
    “Because you talk to us like we’re people.”
    My reply was, “Well, you are people! Small people, but still people.”
    How could you not miss this job?

  117. Uly August 16, 2012 at 1:07 am #

    In response to PDW’s comment, ten in a couple of decades is less than one a year, in god knows how many flights. Even if we assume the real number is ten or a hundred times greater – a very unlikely assumption, but let’s run with it – you still have a better chance of being struck by lightning than any kid does of being molested on the plane.

    Plus, it sounds like the real risk here is with people who decide to move out of their kid-free existance for the sole purpose of sitting next to an unattended child. That IS kinda sketchy behavior. I mean, heck, if I’m sitting next to anybody on the train and have a chance to move so there’s a seat between us, I do it right away. Personal space, much?

  118. RCop August 17, 2012 at 9:40 pm #

    I was just certified by my state to be an elementary school teacher. I am male and most elementary schools are in need of males. One of my female classmates told me that the teacher for whom she student taught said that it was “weird” for guys to want to teach elementary school.
    Virgin’s attempt to play the odds to avoid messy lawsuits involving a molestation indicate that, like most businesses, they cut corners so they can say something about having “made every attempt to prevent such incidents” instead of actually working on a plan to prevent such incidents.

  119. Bernard August 18, 2012 at 9:38 am #

    As a logic consequence of this policy, firemen should be prevented from saving unaccompanied children’s lifes!

  120. pauly7 August 18, 2012 at 10:41 am #

    One of the local national papers ran a fairly sane (especially for them) look at the issue.

  121. Stephen August 20, 2012 at 10:02 pm #

    At the risk of being labelled a Virgin apologist, I have to say that Virgin Australia’s policy is not without a legitimate basis–in the sense that I can sort of see where they are coming from.

    Like many other Western countries, Australia has put in place extensive child protection policies. While they are there for good reason, they also contain elements which verge on the (to be frank) draconian and Orwellian.

    For example, in the State of Western Australia, the following webpage:

    states: “It is a legal requirement in Western Australia for doctors, nurses, midwives, teachers and police officers to report all reasonable beliefs of child sexual abuse to the Department for Child Protection.”

    Note that word “beliefs”. Not only are members of such professions required to report known FACTS, they are also required to what may well amount to only HEARSAY or playground gossip. If they don’t report it and the authorities find out they themselves can wind up behind bars.

    Most if not all Australian states and territories have similar laws.

    Another outcome, however, is that these people are acting as kind of network of informers sort of like there used to exist once upon a time in places like the Soviet Union.

    In that kind of environment the natural reaction of many people would be to act to protect themselves even if by doing so they may be reporting information which turns out to be just plain wrong. When you have a whole flock of would-be informers, you can never be sure that somebody else won’t get in first with the information, leaving you holding the proverbial baby and having to explain why you did not act yourself and sooner.

    Which brings us to Virgin and their lamentable policy. By bringing in that policy Virgin is doing no more a doctor or teacher who reports a child with (say) a suspicious bruise to police even if he himself may not be certain as to its cause: it is better to be safe that sorry.

    For if the worst DOES happen and the child’s abuse is found to have occurred, at least in part, due to Virgin’s seating policies putting the victim in harm’s way, VA would very likely find itself in the firing line itself. Especially if it could be shown that VA staff suspected something was awry but failed to act.

    Given that kind of environment, it is easy to see how the rights of adult men have been consigned to second fiddle.

    The kind of environment–and here I mean not just the regulatory one of laws etc but also the attitudes of people in many Western countries which led to it–is not likely to change, let alone go away, any time soon, so whether Virgin will make any substantive changes to their policy or merely try to sugar coat and hope the fuss goes away only time will tell.

  122. Barry Brake August 30, 2012 at 2:52 am #

    Interestingly, I was just on a plane with two adorable little girls. One was about 9 and the other was about 7; I’m 45. They were very self-assured, well-behaved, chatty, and interesting. Not only did the airline “allow” us to sit next to each other, but they also allowed us to actually talk! As it happens I’m a composer, and I’d just gotten through with a studio session for some music related to one of their favorite brands. I got out my laptop and gave them a supersecret sneak preview — they loved it!

    I also gave them my card and an invitation to get a special deal on the children’s entertainment product when it comes out. Their father wrote, wondering why on earth his kids were bouncing off the walls with excitement. I wrote back, explaining the whole thing, and complimenting him on raising such intelligent, independent-minded, curious kids who can interact so well with adults.

    THAT guy is a free-range parent whether he knows it or not. I actually feel a little better about our society after this. (And I’ll be sure to give my little girls plenty of freedom when they’re old enough to fly by themselves.)

  123. max January 12, 2013 at 7:42 am #

    i am a 14 year old boy if iwas was in a situation like the two boys were in i would kick up a fuss on behalf of the man a common sense . i get fed up with all the measures put in place “to protect” me and find it all completely ridiculous

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