A Reader Who Believes Men Should NOT Be Allowed to Sit Next to Kids on Planes

Hi Readers! It takes all kinds…even the kind that thinks men are raping random children on planes, I guess. Here’s a note that came in response to my post below this one, about Virgin Air’s policy of not allowing males to sit next to unaccompanied minors:

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 male.  – Pastiche

172 Responses

  1. “he is 100 times more likely to rape a child than a woman”

    even if that’s true, 100 times zero is still zero.

  2. “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.”

    But the problem with your logic is that 99.9% of men aren’t pedophiles, thus there’s no need to move them.

    And do you really think a pedophile could get up to anything in a public place like an airplane? Seriously, have you thought that through?

  3. The “deadly disease” is not male behavior, but rather the pathologization of it.

  4. This is why they need to teach statistics in high school.

  5. She says: “99% of paedophiles are male.”

    What she means: “99% of males are potential paedophiles and a threat to my children.”

    What most of us know: .000001% of males are pedophiles, and not a danger to our children on an airplane.

    I want to know her source for the statistics of child sexual assault of unaccompanied minors airplanes in the days before we were fortunate to have these rules in place to protect them. Because, as she said herself, it’s called statistics, you know.

  6. a) it’s called the “base rate fallacy” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Base_rate_fallacy

    b) citation needed for this “99%” number

    c) and oh, let’s toss in “false equivalency”. One can fight against the silliness of the fear of men sitting next to kids on planes AND fight pedophilia.

    and finally d) personal anecdote. When I was 18 I was seated next to a small boy flying alone to his mom after visiting his dad on the other side of the country. Having been in that exact same situation myself, I could see his false bravado. He was putting on a brave face, but he was scared. We talked a lot, we shared jokes, we stayed a little less afraid.

    I’m sure a woman could have done that, and maybe if I’d been next to a little girl I could not have done so well talking Barbies. But thankfully nobody assumed that I would molest a kid on a crowded plane.

  7. Do you think twice about leaving your children alone with men you know? Haven’t we all learned that they children are more likely to be molested by someone they know?

    I feel bad for the men who face this constant stigma from overprotective mothers. I’ll be sure to tell my husband not to speak to another child ever again for fear of him being labeled a child molester.

  8. That’s supreme idiocy. I don’t remember if my kids sat next to a woman or a man when they flew UM to Europe in 2003 at age 9 and 11, but it would never have occurred to me to worry about such a thing.
    For one thing, the airline is supposed to provide appropriate supervision from the moment you hand them over until the moment they are given over into the care of whoever you designated on the other side.
    Which is not to say that they will be assigned their personal flight attendants – besides, the flight attendant might be male – or that they should not let them out of their sight for 5 seconds. After all, much of the excitement of flying UM is that you are not constantly supervised and have to fend for yourself to a certain extent. At least, that’s how my kids saw it. They were even bummed that we insisted on accompanying them all the way to the gate.
    For another, you should teach your kids that this is the one occasion in which they would be positively REQUIRED to kick, yell, scream, scratch, bite and do whatever else is normally beyond the pale to make bystanders understand that someone is trying to harm them.

  9. And 100% of pedophiles are human/have red blood/whathaveyou.

    Correlation and causation, anyone?

    I’m more repelled by that note than anything else I have seen on here. I think it’s because, rather than being the litigation-shy reaction of a corporation or municipality, someone actually thinks they’re being logical, that they’re being thoughtful and rational.

    “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 male.” How does the poster know this firefighter isn’t an active participant in that fight? Do they not realize that public safety worker and first responders would know a lot more about this than they do?

    There’s a lot of fear and, dare I say it, hate in that short note. How does this person react to men in their daily life?

  10. On the basis of a range of published reports, McConaghy estimates a 10 to 1 ratio of male-to-female child molesters. However, most researchers assume available estimates underrepresent the true number of female pedophiles. Several reasons for this have been proposed, including a societal tendency to dismiss the negative impact of sexual relationships between young boys and adult women as well as women’s greater access to very young children who cannot report their abuse

    Unfortunately that’s behind a paywall. I got that bit from google’s cache of http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/display/article/10168/1420331

  11. I think this woman is a prostitute and should have her children taken from her by CPS.

    Why? Because women are 100 times more likely to be prostitutes than men. Because 99% of prostitutes are women. I’m sure this woman is a lovely person, but the fact is, she’s probably a prostitute and unfit to raise her children.

    (Yes, I know there are other issues here, and no, I don’t think being a prostitute makes anyone, a priori, unfit to be a parent, but the fact is, I can use statistics to make value judgements, too.)

  12. That’s some genuine, grade-a insane troll logic right there. It’s like the guy who reasons “The odds against having two different bombs on a plane are astronomical!” and so always carries his own bomb while traveling so that nobody will blow up the plane he’s on.

  13. Hey, Pastiche. You are a crazy person. Seriously. As a man and a father: go jump in a lake! So angry at your ignorance!

  14. The paragraph below was written as a response (on FB) to yesterday’s Blog about the “strange man” incident – but I think it also applies here. I want to point out that these boys and Mr McGirr were on an AIRPLANE, I’m guessing with Pilots, flight attendants and other passengers. When would he have the opportunity to exercise his 100% more likelyness of raping a child?

    Even the on the scene reporter appears to think this is stupid. When I was a kid people would stop and ask for directions ALL THE TIME. I do it too – I try to look for someone adult who seems familiar with the area – but, really, sometimes it’s a teen/preteen out walking in the neighborhood. And sure, you can say “better safe than sorry” but are we really? We have gone nuts with the “if it were my child, I would never forgive myself,” but honestly violent crime is down from when we were kids (Google). However, we did not have social media to keep us up to the minute informed about ANYTHING and EVERYTHING no matter how trivial. We are raising a generation of people who will be unable to function as adults b/c we are not giving them the opportunities to make mistakes, get scraped knees and learn from their experiences. I find it sad that this is where we’ve come. We all want our kids to have a childhood like we did – but we refuse to let them live it.

    Finally, from the time I was 12 on, I flew across country on my own just about annually. I sat next to whomever I was assigned to sit next to and we’d read, watch movies, whatever. sometimes we would even chit-chat a little bit. It was not an issue in the least.

  15. The FACT is, this reader knows nothing. 995 of REPORTED pedophiles are men, that does not account for unreported crimes. And as the reader says above in their quote, women have more access and society looks the other way when it is a women involved with a boy. I would be more worried about who spends the most time with my child, rather than a chance incident with a stranger. Case studies show that pedophiles take their time building a relationship and trust with a child before they ever make a move.

  16. What idiotic, sexist BS. Referring to pedophilia as a “male disease” is absolutely sickening, and only adds to the rampant hysterical paranoia among parents that all men are out to get their children.

    The fact is, women DO rape, molest, sexually harass, and commit other crimes, but the crime is more likely to go unreported due to false “common knowledge” that says women can’t be pedophiles, or women can’t rape men because they’re too weak/because all men want sex all the time, so they can’t be forced to have sex against their will.

    People nowadays are quick(perhaps too quick) to believe that a man has committed a sex crime, but people who are victimized by women are likely to be dismissed and shamed if they come forward. Consider that the next time you try to perpetuate the belief that 99% of pedophiles(by which you clearly mean ALL PEDOPHILES) are men.

  17. 99% not 995

  18. Other relevant statistics:

    3/4 of child molestation cases occur in either the victim’s or the predator’s home – a child is much safer next to a man in an airplane than at home or with relatives

    29% of child sexual abuse offenders are relatives, 60% are acquaintances, and only 11% are strangers

    I don’t have the statistics for it, but I’m guessing the chance of any child getting molested on a plane is very nearly zero.

  19. Dear Math Is Fun,
    I love your response.
    Simple, Poetic, Correct.
    Thank you.

  20. I asked my kids about their UM experience and this is what the eldest replied: “… I can distinctly recall that we were only helped by female airline workers.

    By the way, this is an industry-wide practise and has been for years. Mountains and molehills people. http://www.airliners.net/aviation-forums/general_aviation/read.main/5535994/ …”

    Just so you know.

  21. If Pastiche has been reading Free Range for any length of time, she has completely missed the point.

  22. Should we ban men from being school teachers as well? How about pediatric doctors or nurses? How about barring men from all daycares, playgrounds, movie theaters (if rated less than R)? Maybe we should just institute a permanent ban requiring all men to stay at least 20 yards away from all children at all times.

  23. Can you imagine if this was a racial comment? i.e. A child shouldn’t sit next to an African American he doesn’t know on a plane because statistically speaking, more African Americans commit crimes than Caucasians. Making it a blanket gender issue is just as ridiculous as making it a blanket race issue. The race issue would (hopefully) never be tolerated now – why is it being tolerated when the focus is an adult man?

  24. Ergg. The report of the fireman made to move on the airplane makes me angry, but this comment makes me livid. And I’m not even sure I can send it to my engineer husband who will just get upset over this woman’s lack of any sort of statistical knowledge.

  25. Free Range means training and trusting your children to be independent. If you don’t think that they are capable of understanding their environment, knowing what the potential risks are, and reacting appropriately, then DON’T PUT THEM ON THE PLANE!

  26. Nicoline, how is it “mountains out of molehills” when we’ve institutionalized the distrust of half of the adult population?

  27. Not only the distrust of half the adult population, Will, but, we are constantly telling our boys that they have no hope, they WILL grow up to be a pedophile or will be believed to be one, regardless of fact.

  28. I responded to the other post, but 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.

  29. @enyawface, this is EXACTLY my issue when I read about the moms with man-hate and man-fear – the life view that they are teaching their sons. And do the husbands (or fathers of the children) just go right along with this?

  30. Anyone who REALLY had faith in statistics – rather than selectively using them to bolster an already-made decision based on fear – would allow their young boy to interact EXCLUSIVELY with strange men. After all, most molesters are known to the victim. So one should only let ones young boys sit with strange men on the airplane, and them move them if they get introduced and become familiar.

    You CERTAINLY shouldn’t let them sit next to your family members given how much more common it is for boys to be molested by relatives than strangers.

  31. Attention Mothers. Statistically Speaking — the two people most likely to harm your child are:
    His Mother
    His Father

  32. What is the statistical, percentage, insurance-table-worthy incidence of children being raped on crowded commercial airplanes?

    I’ll bet it’s zero. If it were possible to be less than zero, it probably would be.

    So, sure, let’s go with actuarial risk. I can live with that.

  33. This person is 100% likely to be a complete idiot.

  34. Lenore, are you sure you aren’t being had with this letter? It’s from a person named “Pastiche” and it certainly does do a good job imitating a pearl-clutching nitwit.

  35. true. but he/she keeps writing back. hmmm. 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-minutesample. Busy twittering atFreeRangeKids 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)

    ________________________________

  36. The person who wrote this nonsense (Pastiche) is sadly under-educated and quite misinformed. I think we can all agree on that.

    But the other sad thing is that you posted this on your blog, to drum up more silliness.

    Please stick to stories about how to raise free range kids. I find them very useful and am looking forward to my soon-to-be-born twins (first kids). I hope this blog does not start stooping to the level of posts like this one to drum up arguments and outrage those of us who are sane. There are enough blogs like that already. Reading this did nothing but make me angry and put a bad taste to my afternoon. I learned nothing new.

  37. I think Sabine is onto something. I think it was a hoax response, or a troll.

  38. I am hoping someone else will do the math here. But the other component to this entire discussion is that beyond the infinitesimal odds that a particular male would molest a child next to him on a plane, the scenario requires incredibly bad luck.

    The child and adult male have booked separate tickets. On most flights there are no unaccompanied minors. The perpetrator will never know if he is next to a young victim until the plane is about to take off. So first there has to be an unaccompanied minor on the flight. Next that minor has to be randomly seated in a row next to the perpetrator.

    To make this happen randomly, (and we have to suppose random here because there is no indication pedophiles can rig the airline computers) will require booking many flights, probably over the course of several years. All of this for the outside chance they might sit next to a young child for a couple hours. sorry but there simply is no evidence to suggest that this scenario is worth considering in making policy.

    But then it hit me. The airline policy isn’t to protect kids it is so that the women will take care of the kids. The policy is there because the airline believes that a greater percentage of women won’t complain about being next to a child and might actually help that child during the flight. I would bet that in its origins the rule was sexist towards the woman more than the men.

  39. http://www.csom.org/pubs/female_sex_offenders_brief.pdf

    I agree with above comments noting the likelihood of any individual actually being a sex offender. The link above shows that, of reported sex offenses, the number perpetrated by women is non-trivial.

  40. Will, “mountains and molehills” are my son’s words. However, I agree with him that this is (or should be) a non-issue. Most abuse tends to be committed by people a child knows and as someone said above, if you substitute the gender for a race, you’ll see how demeaning and idiotic an argument it really is.

  41. To the misguided person who sparked these comments:
    Your child is safe sitting next to me. Not because a policeman says so, not because an insurance company says so, not because a court says so, not because a legislature says so…BECAUSE I SAY SO!

  42. Pastiche, you have opened my eyes. We should, in fact, ban all men from driving.

  43. Apparently this writer doesn’t have a son– if so, she has just assumed that once her son gets of a certain age, they are automatically to be treated as a pedophile and/ or rapist. Bad enough that they have just falsley accused everyone else’s son of the same.

    (As a mother of a young son myself, it makes me very upset to that someone may discount my son on the basis of his genitals rather than his character. Why the hell is this okay??)

  44. Since black people are more likely to rob a convenience store should 711 ban them from stores?

  45. We’re all a little dumber for having read that nonsensical comment. I’d love to see citation for just one of her claims — bet there isn’t any. Completely aside from who is statistically likely to molest, look at the setting: an airplane. I’ve been sitting here for a moment, trying to come up with a place that offers LESS privacy, and I can’t do it. He’d have to somehow drag the child into the plane’s restroom, and he couldn’t do it without attracting a lot of attention. Same thing with just reaching over and grabbing — the child and his or her parent would make a ruckus, the whole plane would be alerted, and there would be a battalion of cops waiting for him at the gate. It’s so unlikely that it’s not even worth worrying about.

  46. Remember: Even if something is exceedingly unlikely to happen, if it can happen to your child in the few seconds you left to go to the bathroom. Isn’t that the code you live your life by?

    I wonder why this person even reads free range kids if she is that concerned about the safety of “our” children or really doesn’t see the gender bias here.

  47. Sorry, one more comment. It’s thought processes like Pastiche’s that lead to women being forced to wear burqas. It’s for their own protection, because all men are rapists.

  48. Pastiche, think about it! Even if the guy was a pedofile, he’s not going to do something on a crowded plane. If the kid screams, there’s no way to escape. Criminals tend to like low-risk situations, and a locked airplane at 11 km in the air doesn’t seem like a low-risk environment for a pedofile to me. Therefore, you can safely seat that man next to those kids even if he’s a complete stranger without background check.

  49. Perhaps there’s a form of “speed grooming” I don’t know about that would entice a kid to follow a man (or a woman) willingly into an airplane bathroom, but a rank stranger on a crowded plane would have a heck of a time preying on an UM. It’s not like the kid can get off the plane and follow them somewhere… UMs are handled a LOT more carefully than baggage, and DON’T get lost!🙂

    Sort of reminds me of how uptight others felt when I let my kids roam around on the ferries here. I was like, “Huh, well, there doesn’t seem to be much chance of undetected escape, or am I missing something?”

    I like the idea of getting kids to honour and understand their own “creep radar.” It’s a great thing to openly discuss, how some folks just give you the willies, and you can’t quite identify why, and so you make sure you leave some space between you and them, at least until you can get more information.

    Instead of trying to eradicate all possible situations that could foreseeably bring harm to a child (impossible), how about preparing the *child* for both likely and unlikely scenarios that might require action / caution on their part?

    Let the men fly, people. Let them fly in peace.

  50. Brian wrote a solid argument, but there is another point that makes it even less likely. For a child and a sex offender to be seated next to each other on an airplane, the sex offender first had to get a ticket (which might be harder if they’ve been convicted before) and once they have the ticket and have been put through the wringer, someone would have to ignore all the information and seat them next to an UM.

    That is so unlikely the chance might as well be zero, so all that is left is unreported offenders, but with the attitude we see nowadays, the chance of an unconvicted offender being on that airplane isn’t much greater.

  51. Pastiche – A dramatic, literary, or musical piece openly imitating the previous works of other artists, often with satirical intent. This is a joke piece, otherwise why would they call themselves Pastiche? Someone is trying to wind you all up.

  52. Basically all this is telling those 2 boys is that they’re going to grow up to be potential predators.

  53. When I was in college, I knew a guy who would ask random girls if they wanted some candy just to get a rise out of them. He was a jerk, but he never intended to kidnap anyone. I think he probably would have peed himself if some kid had actually crawled into his car.

  54. “For a child and a sex offender to be seated next to each other on an airplane, the sex offender first had to get a ticket (which might be harder if they’ve been convicted before) and once they have the ticket and have been put through the wringer, someone would have to ignore all the information and seat them next to an UM.”

    Huh? I think this is a stupid policy but to be clear – there is absolutely no way an airline is going to know that a convicted sex offender is on a plane, let alone sitting next to an unaccompanied minor. There is no prohibition on convicted sex offenders traveling via airplane. Airlines don’t run each potential ticket purchaser through the sex offender registry for every state and then mark those tickets with a scarlet SO.

  55. Umm… Excuse me Pastiche but statistically Strangers are the offender in just 3% of sexual assaults against victims under age 6 and 5% of the sexual assault of victimizations of youth ages 6 through 11. That means 95-7% of children are molested by someone they know. With your logic that mean that we certainly shouldn’t let them sit with anyone they know while in such an obviously unsafe and private environment like the cabin on a plane.

    I travelled as a UM (Unaccompanied Minor) on many different flights, on many different airlines (Qantas, JAL, New Zealand Air), between Australia and the USA when I was between the ages of 9 and 16. This is a long haul flight with travel times ranging from 14hrs to 24 hrs (depending on lay-overs ect). I often sat next to males, it was never an issue. I remember a couple of very nice ones.

    I feel bad for these poor little boys who missed out on the opportunity to hang out with a real life firefighter for a few hours!! That could have been such an enriching experience for all three of them!

  56. I took my son to meet his cousins and visit his grandparents a month ago. He turned 4 months while we were there. To get there took two flights, a short flight, a 30 minute connection, then a longer flight.

    On the way there, waiting for our second flight I needed to go to the loo. While I was scanning the waiting passengers for a likely baby-cuddler, I struck up a conversation with a man about what gate we were leaving from. He seemed like a normal sort of man, so I asked if he would cuddle my wee man for a minute so I could go to the loo. I had been looking for a woman, but only because ladies tend to be more willing cuddlers.

    The man was happy to help, my son had cuddles, and I got to go to the loo. Wins all around. The idea that he might harm my son never entered my mind, I was more concerned about my son being upset because he couldn’t see Mummy

  57. The only reason that statistics say that the majority of sex abuse is done by men is because the victims of female molesters are being ignored or accused of lying. Have a look at the panarama program (it’s on YouTube) panorama the ultimate taboo

  58. by the same logic, since 95 % of all nurses are female (http://www.minoritynurse.com/minority-nursing-statistics), it is 20 time more probable that a women nurse will kill somebody by negligence in hospital. We should have a policy that ALL women nurses are supervised (preferably by males) all time during their shifts.
    isn’t statistics wonderful?

  59. This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever read.
    The LAST place a sex offender is going to attack a child is on an airplane, where he’s trapped with a bunch of other adults and won’t be able to run!

  60. Even if the in the unlikely event that a child was seated next to a sex offender, how could anything possibly happen to the child in such an open area. Planes don’t exacltly offer privacy. Just sitting next to a sex offender isn’t going to hurt a child, they wouldn’t even know. I have 2 children and I’m sure that it is likely that at some point in their lives a sex offender has seen them and maybe even sat next to them. It’s not like you can tell who they are. Nobody is ever going to avoid that unless you never leave the house or let anyone in. I doubt that planes are at the top of the list for predetors to find victims. I would think they would prefer places that at least have an exit. I have never heard of a case of a child being molested on a plane.

  61. this is a joke piece thats why they have called themselves Pastiche!!! You are all getting hot under the collar for nothing – its a pastiche.

  62. That math just made me cringe.

  63. I don’t really want to dignify this letter with a response Pastiche…but I will.

    As a child (about 5) I used to travel once or twice a year with my brother (10) to visit my dad in the Mediterranean (we lived in the UK). I was almost always next to a male, an I remember a pro basketballer one time that go me very excited. I talked that poor guys ear off all the way there!

    Your opinion is pathetic, fear based, in no science or facts at all. The ones you quoted are erroneous. I recently went to my daughter’s playgroup at a community garden and helped a young boy get involved. It turned out the planting we did together was the first interest he’s ever shown in gardening despite his mother’s attempts (he’s 2 by the way). She thanked me for spending time with him and it has been suggested he followed me because he wanted a male role model to show him the way. (I don’t belie his father is that keen a gardener and eithe way is unable to attend the playgroup because of work). It was a small thing but I helped that little boy and his mum and it was (potentially) because I was male in a female dominated place.

    Some kids feel more comfortable, some less, you cannot spend life assuming every person you meet is an unconvinced felon waiting to pounce. It’s pathetic and would lead to an horrific world.

    I am only cheered up by the plethora of similar responses to your comments, I do hope you are in the minority of this world.

  64. The success of radical feminism. Were they to treat women in the same vain, there would be howls of protests of chauvinism. A child who is emotionally abused is probably more likely to be abused by the child’s mother but you don’t see protests to keep children away from all mothers to protect them.

  65. “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?”

    My husband didn’t carry his own car insurance or rent cars until he was 25 because of this “claim” And according to the most recent research its is untrue. Women in every age group are actually more likely to have an accident. Men’s accidents though fewer, just tend to be much more expensive.

    Also, if your child is old enough to travel alone, they are old enough to know the difference between a friendly conversation and “bad touching” and if they do not, shame on you!

  66. I’m wondering if this is reflecting gender bias in society. Most “free range” activities that get into the news in a bad way are because the *mother* let the preteens walk to the convenience store. Society points the accusatory finger toward a woman with great ease. The “males can’t sit next to kids” accuses *men* and there is more of an outcry.

    It’s a hypothesis, and of course we know the statistics say anyone who knows your kids is far more likely to be a danger than a stranger. But that’s a difficult sell to the mathematically ignorant.

    But I’ve often wondered why the paranoid about terrorists haven’t identified males as the group to watch, but only just brown males. There have been plenty of white male terrorists in the USA, some in the past month, in fact, and as far as I know, no darker-skinned women, ever. So doing racial profiling on women of any kind is non-statistically-helpful.

  67. The best thing about flying with children? Knowing that absolutely nothing could possibly happen to them while I use the tiny bathroom. Seriously, people. You’re packed quite closely in a small metal tube with 150 other human beings. Do you think anyone who tried anything more aggressive than leaning their seat all the way back wouldn’t be beaten to death by the other passengers?

  68. Interesting, because this post made me think of this from the perspective of liability of the airline. Would you rather get a complaint about a guy who had to move because of policy, or from the parents of a child who was fondled (or worse) on the flight? The child who is supposed to be under the care of airline personnel at that time?

    Who is actually harmed by a policy saying men can’t sit next to unaccompanied minors?

    Even if it’s rare to have kids bothered on airplanes, it does happen. The risk may be small, but it is not zero.

    I’m with the airlines on this one, from the perspective that it’s a business decision and they ought to be able to manage their risk, even if it’s a very small risk. Of course they should handle it in a respectful manner.

  69. To the commenters saying it’s practically impossible to molest someone on an airplane: not necessarily. On long flights overnight, most people are sleeping and you could get away with a lot, especially if the kid next to you is sleeping too.

  70. This is a fancy bit of nonsense. Of course, as a male, I might actually welcome this kind of policy since I wouldn’t have to be bothered with your snot-nosed brat!

    Sisters, there really IS a lot of fear-mongering about men going on. It hurts you, though you may not know it, just as it harms men.

  71. “Who is actually harmed by a policy saying men can’t sit next to unaccompanied minors?”

    Who is harmed by this policy that backs up the false belief that all men are pedophiles? Well, first of all, men, who can not live their lives freely, who do not have the same rights as women anymore. Secondly, children, both male and female, who no longer have male role models in their lives. Thirdly, women, who can not do things with their husbands and sons and brothers and etc. because they must live in the constant fear that these people will be accused and taken away from them.

  72. No, the policy does not say that all men are pedophiles. The policy is a matter of risk management. When you lock your door at night, is this because you believe everyone within driving distance of your house is a burglar?

    I think we’re over-blowing the “harm” argument. Men don’t have the same rights as women any more? When did they ever, and how is that the airlines’ fault? Not being able to sit next to a stranger’s kid means you can’t play football with your son? Really? Women not being allowed to do things with their husbands? I haven’t been on any flights where the majority of passengers weren’t men.

    The airlines are not creating the negative stereotypes; they might not even be reacting to them. Maybe they are reacting to actual incidents or allegations that could hurt their business. They might also be reacting to trends in preferences, which is what service-oriented businesses do.

  73. This is SO wrong on SO many levels. This woman does not actually understand statistics. As others pointed out, base rate fallacy, etc. Also, on an airplane, what can really happen?! No one can abduct you. The worst that could possible happen would be some fondling, which someone else would probably notice. So really nothing could possibly happen to a child even seated next to a pedophile.

    Another reason this is wrong is that with this policy, women will be forced to sit next to possibly bratty, ruly, loud children and entertain/babysit them while men get bumped up to first class or something else. I don’t want some policy where I, as a woman, am more likely to be stuck next to a child on a higher frequency than a man would be. Maybe a child makes for a better passenger than the random adult, but maybe not. I just think the sexism works in all directions here and everyone loses. What a horrid poicy.

  74. I think I’m experiencing deja vu. Didn’t we already discuss this in the LAST post? Why is there an entirely new post about the exact same thing as the last post? Anyone have any NICE new free range stories to share instead of hounding this one woman with a different opinion…..again?

  75. “Who is actually harmed by a policy saying men can’t sit next to unaccompanied minors?”

    Society of harmed every single time a policy is made saying that HALF the population is not safe to sit next to a child they are not related to in a public place.

    “Even if it’s rare to have kids bothered on airplanes, it does happen. ”

    Really? And you know this how? Because I haven’t seen a single statistic on the number of kids molested on a crowded airplane. I haven’t heard of a single case reported in the media of a kid molested on a crowded airplane. I don’t know anyone molested on a crowded airplane. I’ve never known anyone convicted of molesting a child on a crowded airplane.

    Even if it is a rare occurrence, why are we stigmatizing HALF the population and making men move over something that is so exceedingly rare as to be almost completely unheard of? In no other situation would this be okay. It would not be okay for people to start demanding that, since 100% of rapists are men (by law, only a man can rape in Georgia and most plane travelers hit Atlanta at some point), that no unaccompanied men and women can ever sit in a row together. The odds of rape are rare but you never know. This is no different than throwing women in burkas and refusing to allow them to drive all for their own safety.

    “When you lock your door at night, is this because you believe everyone within driving distance of your house is a burglar?”

    Burglars are much more common that child molesters in general and exceedingly more common than child molesters who act on a plane full of people. In fact, most houses will be burglarized at some point. I still haven’t seen proof that a single child has ever been molested on an airplane.

    Further, locking your door at nigh doesn’t stigmatize HALF the population by telling them that they are simply not safe to be in public places with children. It doesn’t harm anyone. In fact, nobody else on the planet, except possibly a burglar, has any knowledge whatsoever that your door is locked.

    “They might also be reacting to trends in preferences, which is what service-oriented businesses do.”

    Martin Luther King is turning over in his grave. How quickly we forget and seek to relive the past with a different group of people.

    Where exactly do you draw the line SKL? Is it okay to have a policy to say that black people can’t sit next to white people. Afterall, there are still many people who are uncomfortable with other races. Heck, much of the US would be more comfortable if people from the middle east never stepped foot on a plane. That okay too? Or maybe just give them special sections with an armed guard to make sure they don’t do anything?

    And under what business practices does it make sense to cater to unaccompanied minors instead of men traveling solo? Unaccompanied minors are barely a blip on the radar of airlines. I would bet that an airline that refused to accept them would do no worse income-wise that year. The same certainly cannot be said for the male business traveler who makes up a HUGE chunk of the flying public. Although most of them are perfectly happy to not sit next to your unaccompanied brat, most probably would not be happy to be asked to move from their seat after being told that they can’t be trusted to sit next to your unaccompanied brat.

  76. If the airline was really interested in protecting kids (or managing risk if you want to call it that) then they’d give kids their own row free of adults, and eat the cost of any empty seats. So Virgin, why do you place profit over the safety of our children?

  77. So if I quietly manage a guy’s seat to be next to someone who’s not an unaccompanied minor, that is going to make him think he is a child molester?

    Seriously, that’s like when people tell me I’m stupid, while I happen to know my IQ. We’re talking about grown men who presumably don’t look to the airlines to discover their sexual preferences and proclivities.

    Remember, an unaccompanied minor means there is someone in the airline’s employ who is basically acting in the place of the child’s parent. As a parent, you use some level of discretion before you tell your child to sit here instead of there. Your criteria will be different from other parents’ criteria, but you do discriminate no matter who you are. This is not comparable to the type of discrimination that would make MLK roll over in his grave. I would not be surprised if he’d be reluctant to have his young daughter go sit next to a white male stranger while traveling alone.

    As far as I know, none of us was in the corporate office when they debated the pros and cons of this policy. My guess would be that at least some of the people there were men who are not pedophiles, and yet the policy was adopted. I tend to give them the benefit of the doubt that they had some logical reasons.

    As for whether molestation has ever occurred on a plane, I have heard at least one person say this happened to her, but I have no documented proof of it. I am not inclined to run an internet search on it. However, like I said, the airlines must have some reason to adopt a policy that requires them to take on extra work. Since nobody actually believes “most men are pedophiles,” I am sure there was some other logic.

  78. I had to put my11-year daughter on a plane November 21, 2001. 63 days after 9/11. Her father had Thanksgiving that year. She told him she did not want to get on the plane. I talked to him as well. I offered him an extra months in the summer. He would not budge. Legally, I had to send her.

    We had her on Delta. They were still letting parents walk the kids onto the plane and get the kids settled in. We got to her seat. I was thrilled to see that there were men behind on both sides, in front on both side, beside her, and across the row. She was in a cocoon of men.

    I looked down at them and said, “Men, this is my only child. She does not want to be on this plane. Her father insists and he will be meeting her in SLC. Please promise me that you will make sure she is safe on this plane.” They all made eye contact and said, “yes, we will”.

    Now I knew that there was little chance of anything happening. I had told my child that as well. I made sure she knew that terrorists were not going to be on her plane. But, she was still scared. REALLY scared!!!!! She looked at all the dudes, and I saw her visibly relax.

    She had a good flight. They all talked and joked with her. They all walked out behind her and the flight attendant. Her dad had a few moments of wondering why all these dudes were glaring at him LOL.

    Never once in all this did I even think the thought that one of those men would hurt her. In all the years I’ve told this story no one else ever asked me if I had that thought. If she had been surrounded by all women I would have asked them to care for her too.

    Anyway, final word to Pastiche. Looking in to learning how to use statistics might help you let go of some of the fear. If you really dig into the numbers, it will help you not see evil in every man you encounter.

  79. Nobody is saying that men will come to believe that they are child molesters because they must move a seat so either you are being intentionally obtuse or don’t have near the IQ that you are bragging about.

    The fact is that forcing a male to move from a seat simply because he is a male is no different than making a black person sit in the back of the bus simply because he is black or refusing to give a driver’s license to a woman simply because she is a woman.

    And the attitude in the world today does impact men’s willingness to interact with children, sometimes even their own, in public. How about the toddler who died because the man was too afraid to stop and help her? Or the number of men on this blog alone who simply refuse to even acknowledge kids in public now? Or those who have been questioned for playing with their own children in public? Or those who have been asked to leave public parks because they were unaccompanied?

    So, no, the MEN do not think they are pedophiles but society is increasingly treating them as such and rules such as this do nothing but enhance that ability. Frankly, two water fountains side by side, one saying “whites only” by itself is irrelevant. Both groups get water from the exact same source. However, it was a symptom of a desire to persecute a portion of the population. Same here. Moving from seat 12a to seat 22a is largely irrelevant and most people would love to be away from the unaccompanied minors. However, a policy requiring this because “you just never know” is a symptom of an overall movement in society to stigmatize all men as potential pedophiles and marginalize their presence in the lives of kids.

    “Since nobody actually believes “most men are pedophiles,” ”

    Really? What planet are you living on and why are you a member of this blog if life is so peachy keen out there? Because I see many opinions that are based on the idea of, if not “most men are pedophiles” then “enough men are pedophiles that we can’t allow our children to interact with them outside our presence.” What other mentality insists that boys can’t use the bathroom alone until they are in college? Or that men who work/volunteer with young children are suspect? Or that men and boys should vacate their own homes during sleepovers? And the list goes on and on and on and on and on of the many, many things that men are not allowed to do that involve children any more.

  80. I still don’t believe it is the responsibility of the airlines to change public opinion. I would like to hear what their motives were in the first place. I am fairly certain the motives have nothing to do with (a) believing most men are dangerous to children or (b) wanting to stigmatize males. But let’s give them a chance to speak for themselves.

    I can’t believe we’re making an international issue over who sits next to unaccompanied minors. The majority of adults and kids will never have this experience to even wonder about. It’s not a life-changing experience in any case.

    Dads, play with your kids in public if you really want to influence public opinion. Be the person who does school/club dropoff/pickup and who volunteers to be a room parent. Coach your daughters’ team. My ex-boss, who was divorced and had custody of his teen daughter, set aside a dad-and-daughter day each summer to take her clothes shopping, and they would include Victoria’s Secret in their trip. (Not my thing, but whatever.) He was never arrested! Like I said, people are blowing this “risk” out of proportion. Let’s not over-sensationalize a few crazy allegations, because that’s what we’re supposed to be fighting against here.

  81. This reminds me of my grandmother-in-law who firmly believes almost *all* kidnappings, abductions, and molestations/rapes are done by complete strangers. According to her it’s *never* a family member, always a stranger. I tried giving the FBI crime statistics but she insists they are completely inaccurate because she “knows several law enforcement officers and they say it’s always a stranger”. Um…sure.

  82. I think maybe one reason people are in denial about the “always a stranger” thing is that incest / family friend incidents are viewed as personal, private matters and usually involve shame on both sides. Not much reason for the cops to call the media if there is no missing kid or fugitive involved. Not much reason for the victims to tell the whole world. I think that’s a good thing in a way. The last thing we need is more media sensationalizing of “the danger among us.”

  83. “I still don’t believe it is the responsibility of the airlines to change public opinion.”

    I’m not sure who said it was. I think what’s being suggested is that they not cater to a non-reality-based public opinion for no good reason.

    Donna’s point keeps coming back into focus here — white women used to believe that black men would harm them, and white men worried about it even more. Was it right then, or would it be right now, to refuse to seat black men next to unaccompanied white women? After all, it’s “public opinion” and it’s “not the airline’s responsibility to change that.”

    Or does it simply make more sense for the airline to say, “Buzz off. This man paid for his seat and we have no grounds to move him. Ever person’s paranoia does not constitute grounds for inconveniencing others.” (In nicer language, of course, but to the same effect.)

  84. So it is okay in your opinion for a restaurant to refuse to serve black people or to make them enter through a different door or to sit in specific seats as long as the public wants it that way? And we shouldn’t be concerned because it is “not the responsibility of the restaurant to change public opinion?” As long as the public agrees, companies can be as racist, sexist, ageist, ethicist as they want? Which still begs the question, why do Muslims fly on planes? The vast majority of the US population want them off planes and it is not the responsibility of companies to change public opinion and, in fact, it is perfectly acceptable to cater to racist, sexist, ageist, ethicist public opinion in your view?

    Because, of course, we are not actually talking about airline changing public opinion. Nobody really expects men to suddenly be welcome with open arms if this policy is changed. We are talking about airlines making policies that cater to discriminatory viewpoints.

    We’re not making an international issue over who sits next to unaccompanied minors. We’re making an issue over a POLICY that dictates that it is unacceptable for HALF the population to do so based solely on the genitalia they possess.

    This is not “crazy allegations.” This is COMPANY POLICY. A couple parents deciding Snowflake is too delicate to sit next to a male and a flight attendant finding some nice woman to change seats so the damn plane can get off the ground is a “crazy allegation.” A company policy of sexism and discrimination is well beyond “crazy allegation.” It is the institutionalizing of “crazy allegations.”

    And it affects ALL people, men and women, even those who never step foot on a plane. It is part of a whole in society that is increasingly saying that men are not safe around children. It adds to the fear and belief that children are not safe anywhere. It leads to more and more helicoptering. We can’t say “this policy, based on fear of men near children (and there is no other rational explanation even having not been in the board room), is okay but not the one saying men can not work in church nurseries based on the same fear” simply because more people are directly affected. If you can’t see that, we’re simply back to being intentionally obtuse.

    Something tells me that your view on this would be much different if it were WOMEN who were being forced to change seats on airplanes based on some stupid fear, regardless of how few were ultimately moved.

  85. It is also a part of the whole of our extremely self-absorbed society. This belief that everyone else must accommodate your sexist beliefs. We have become a very selfish people and it is not doing anything positive for society.

    It is perfectly fine to believe that Snowflake is too delicate to sit with a man on a plane. The answer to that belief is to fly with Snowflake – or at least purchase the ticket for the seats next to her – or not fly at all. The answer is not demanding everyone else on the plane cater to that fear. There is no god-given right to fly. Airlines don’t have to accept unaccompanied minors at all. Why should other people have to change to support your stupid fears and prejudices?

    Some people like specific seats. Aisle v window v middle is obvious. But there are reasons to like to sit in particular areas of the plane too. Noise, bathroom traffic, quick exit from the plane, etc. Why is your irrational fear more important than their reasons for wanting that particular seat?

  86. Oh brother, you guys.

    We’re talking about unaccompanied minors whose parents are handing their little darlings over into the care of an unfeeling corporation. Everything that happens or “seems like it might have happened” is going to be blown out of proportion and there will be complaints and possibly even lawsuits by the parents of some of these kids. Frankly I’d be surprised if this has not happened in the past. Very surprised.

    Someone said [paraphrasing] “there’s no right [for unaccompanied minors] to fly,” but didn’t we recently have a discussion about Amtrak or some such which banned unaccompanied kids “for their safety”? Nobody liked it when that happened, did they? It’s good for these kids to be able to fly cross-country and if the airline has difficulties making that happen, whether due to parents’ fears or otherwise, we should be glad they are only making little adjustments instead of canceling the whole program.

    The discrimination thing is true, except that men are not a “protected class.” There is no real harm to men here. They are not going to earn less money, die young, or be excluded from elite universities because of whom they can’t sit next to on a plane. As for “harm to society,” this is not a big enough deal to make a blip in everyday life. Why did it even make the news? Did someone die? Did his travels get delayed? We have a recent post on FRK complaining that it made the news when a strange man in a truck told a girl to “come here.” Even though we know of situations where serious crimes have begun exactly that way, we don’t think that’s newsworthy. Yet it’s worth an international outrage that a grown-up guy was asked to please sit in another seat due to airline policy. Some perspective is called for.

  87. “It’s good for these kids to be able to fly cross-country and if the airline has difficulties making that happen, whether due to parents’ fears or otherwise, we should be glad they are only making little adjustments instead of canceling the whole program.”

    We should also be glad they’re not boiling the men in oil, because that would after all be worse.

    Yes, we can be glad that a ridiculous discriminatory policy is not even worse, or that instead of implementing the ridiculous discriminatory policy, they’re discriminating against the kids, instead. But why does that mean we can’t complain that there is a ridiculous, discriminatory policy IN THE FIRST PLACE?

    “We have a recent post on FRK complaining that it made the news when a strange man in a truck told a girl to “come here.”

    That’s not precisely what’s being complained about, although that is part of it. What’s being complained about is treating is as though it were an actual incident of crime rather than a potential precursor to crime, and diverting police resources to catching a guy who ultimately didn’t commit any crime.

    It doesn’t really mater whether you or I can find some “real harm” that comes to men through this policy. Treating all men like dirt may not be legally actionable because they are not a protected class, but what’s wrong with us saying “this is stupid and wrong and they should not do it?”

  88. “what’s wrong with us saying “this is stupid and wrong and they should not do it?”

    I am not prepared to agree that it is “stupid and wrong” until I hear their side of why they implemented the policy in the first place.

  89. I agree with Lisa:

    ————————-

    Lisa, on August 11, 2012 at 05:36 said:
    Pastiche – A dramatic, literary, or musical piece openly imitating the previous works of other artists, often with satirical intent. This is a joke piece, otherwise why would they call themselves Pastiche? Someone is trying to wind you all up.

  90. Jynet – and like a bunch of hens in a coop, everyone got their feathers ruffled and fell for it. Like I said earlier…let’s move on, ladies and gents.

  91. Another commenter, Brooke, also replied to me and others in the same post. She claims to be the victim of molestation and feels we are not taking a very serious issue seriously enough. Some have claimed she is the same person as Pistache. Maybe, maybe not, but I prefer to give people the benefit of the doubt and be sympathetic. Molestation IS a serious problem. Attacking men just isn’t the right solution.

  92. Let’s see….

    Made up data
    Made up statistics (base rate fallacy)
    Keeps fanning the fire….

    If it looks like a Troll, Acts like a Troll….Probably it’s a Troll.

    Do Not Feed the Troll.

  93. Where is ‘he’ going to rape a kid on a plane?

  94. “Someone said [paraphrasing] “there’s no right [for unaccompanied minors] to fly,” but didn’t we recently have a discussion about Amtrak or some such which banned unaccompanied kids “for their safety”? Nobody liked it when that happened, did they? It’s good for these kids to be able to fly cross-country and if the airline has difficulties making that happen, whether due to parents’ fears or otherwise, we should be glad they are only making little adjustments instead of canceling the whole program.”

    Or why not take the rational approach – and the approach they take with every other single thing on planes – if you don’t like your sitting conditions, don’t fly? Who cares if a few kids don’t fly unaccompanied because their parents fear? Unfortunately, kids have to live with the stupid decisions of their parents.

    We just talked in the last few weeks about how much influence one parent should have. All agreed that the fear is the parents problem and if those individual parents don’t want the field trip, then those kids stay home while the rest of the class goes. Why exactly is flying different? Why are you supporting the airlines in deciding to side with the fearful parents and knocking the school for doing the exact same thing?

    “As for “harm to society,” this is not a big enough deal to make a blip in everyday life.”

    You are correct in a vacuum. If this was the only thing going on in this realm, I’d roll my eyes and brush it off as another weird airline regulation to go with the hundreds of other weird airline regulations. However, it is not in a vacuum. It is one thing in a growing list of things that treat men as second class citizens in relation to children. It is a move in a direction that most of us agree is bad for society. Are we supposed to wait until these rules are everywhere and then say “damn we should have done something about this back in 2012 when airlines started moving men sitting next to children?”

    Every time an entity gives validity to this fear that children are a threat from men, more and more people buy onto the notion and the harder it comes to combat. The more people who buy into the notion, the more people who consider it dangerous for kids to be roaming about. The more people who consider it dangerous for kids to be roaming about, the more arrests and CPS action we get for letting out children roam about.

    “The discrimination thing is true, except that men are not a “protected class.” There is no real harm to men here. They are not going to earn less money, die young, or be excluded from elite universities because of whom they can’t sit next to on a plane. As for “harm to society,” this is not a big enough deal to make a blip in everyday life. Why did it even make the news? Did someone die? Did his travels get delayed?”

    So discrimination is only bad if it happens to a protected class? Gay is not generally a protected class so we can discriminate against them? How about your children? I believe at least one is latin american (I could be mixing you up with someone). Ethnicity if not a protected class either so we discrimination against your kids is no problem, right?

    Or should we only care about discrimination is someone dies? We only care if someone is lynched.

    And, again you seem to miss the point where one thing is a part of a whole. Nobody actually earned less money, died or was excluded from elite universities because they had to drink out of the water fountain on the left instead of the one on the right. We still think it was an appalling way to treat people.

    So, SKL, if airlines suddenly decided that women could no longer sit in exit rows because women are prone to getting hysterical in emergencies and can’t be trusted to remain calm and help everyone off the plane, you’re okay with that? It’s a stupid stereotype of women, but only a few people are going to be affected, so no problem. Who cares what it says to your daughters and the rest of women in society. They aren’t going to “earn less money, die young, or be excluded from elite universities because of” where they sit on a plane.

  95. You know, it seems like the poster doesn’t really know how to assess risk. Her child is more likely to die in a plane crash than get molested on a plane.

    Sh-t, her kid is more likely to get injured, maimed, or killed in a car crash with mom driving than he/she is likely to get molested by anyone, ever.

  96. “Where is ‘he’ going to rape a kid on a plane?”

    No one’s really explained that yet.

  97. I’m prepared to say it’s stupid and wrong because it doesn’t solve any real problem, interferes with the convenience of others for absolutely no real-world payoff whatsoever, colludes in the stigmatizing of all men, and no matter what reasons the airline might think it has, they’re not good enough to justify it in light of those downsides.

    Unless, of course, you think that every person’s expressed paranoid unjustified fear is a problem that must be solved (i.e, catered to.) But if airlines adopted that policy in other areas, they couldn’t function. What about the people who are afraid of guys with tattoos? Of black people? Of big hairy guys sitting next to their wives? Of anyone who (they think) looks Middle Eastern, or Chinese, or like someone they were once harmed by? So that’s not good enough to make an exception in this case.

  98. Well, I’m a businesswoman, so maybe that’s why I feel uncomfortable convicting a corporation of spending its time and money to make a change for no good reason whatsoever, when we have not heard their side of it yet. It’s easy for us to jump up and down and scream that what somebody else did was stupid, since we don’t have any actual skin in the game. I would rather hear both sides and address the company’s rationale, than holler about what we outsiders think the rationale might be.

  99. Pentamom, there is a SLIM possibility that a perp might fondle a kid under a blanket. Couldn’t rape them, but could put hands places they shouldn’t be. Maybe threaten the kid to keep quiet. Is this bad? Yes. Is it as bad as rape? Maybe, maybe not, but the thing is doing something that is against the will of the child.

    Personally, I think this is a slim possibility. On an overnight flight people would be less aware of what is going on around them than during a daytime flight. Do I think that men should be banned from sitting next to kids? No, only if women are too. The only convicted child molester I know is female. I may have met a male molester, unconvicted, but then the odds are 50/50.

    Should parents put their kids on overnight flights alone? I don’t know, it “might” be safer to do day flights if they can. That margin of “might” is probably pretty slim. Most perps are not going to book flights just so they can molest a child.

  100. I don’t think child molesters are particularly rare. True, it’s unusual for a stranger to molest a child, but maybe that’s because it’s unusual for a child to go and sit right up against a stranger (and possibly sleep on him) for hours at at time. Which is what happens on planes.

  101. 99% of slivers are caused by wood. That doesn’t mean we should burn down all the trees.

  102. JR, who’s getting burnt down?

    I guess I should be glad that I live in a world where the biggest social injustice is that unaccompanied kids on planes are seated by women instead of men.

  103. “Well, I’m a businesswoman, so maybe that’s why I feel uncomfortable convicting a corporation of spending its time and money to make a change for no good reason whatsoever,”

    A small amount of time certainly, but what money? The policy costs them absolutely nothing. Changing the policy costs them nothing. They simply need to inform flight attendants of the change in policy. Email will do.

    Nor is it for no good reason. It is to appease the fear mongering general public. I think we’ve covered why corporations should not be allowed to discriminate just to appease the whims of the general public.

    “I would rather hear both sides and address the company’s rationale, than holler about what we outsiders think the rationale might be.”

    Give me a single non-discriminatory rationale for this policy. Just one.

    The only one that I can think of is that unaccompanied kids are being molested on Virgin airlines left and right and they had to institute this policy. We know that isn’t true because (a) kids being molested by strangers is rare, (b) we would have heard about it happening. The media can’t ignore a good child molestation story. Heck, we get breaking news and all out police search because a man in a car talked to a child. If molestation on airplanes was common, it would have hit the press. If Virgin had the most amazing PR person in the world that managed to keep the fact that unaccompanied children were being molested regularly on planes completely and totally off the media radar, we would have never heard about the policy to begin with.

  104. I’m sure you know that most cases of molestation (and other pedophile behaviors) are never reported at all, let alone to the mass media.

  105. Just how many incidents of inappropriate behavior do you think are necessary to justify a policy of some sort? It seems to me that if they even got the slightest inkling of a risk, they would act to avoid it, because the fallout of an actual incident would be so great.

    It’s all well and good to say that the company should just trust everyone. But when an incident occurs, who’s going to stand up for the company’s decision to trust instead of prevent? Nobody.

  106. Pastiche sounds like a troll to me.

  107. I don’t know why everyone is getting so worked up about this issue. The simple solution is to have all men subjected to a background check and a psychological screening before boarding, and then will not be forcing the stewardess’s to bear the brunt of protecting our children from the mike high club. I’m sure the TSA can contribute their expertise to this screening, and perhaps throw in a few extra invasive searches while they are at it.

  108. This just seems outrageous to me. I would like to share a story from my childhood which has left a lasting impression on not only myself, but my mother as well.
    When I was about 4 my very young single mother was travelling across the country via a Greyhound bus with my 4 year old self and my 1 year old sister. Mum was given some bad information at the start of the journey and found halfway through the trip that she would have to buy and extra ticket for my toddler ticket and would run out of funds before we would reach our destination.
    At some point when we had to change buses the bus driver told my mother that each of the children would have to sit in their own seat. As the bus only had paired seats she had to put either my sister or myself in a seat next to a stranger. As I was the oldest and presumably the more responsible, she seated me a few rows ahead of her in an available seat next to a US military member travelling in uniform. Im sure I talked the poor guy’s ear off most of the trip but apparently he liked me because he passed me a $100 bill before disembarking the bus and told me to give the money to my mom.
    Due to this man’s generosity we were able to make it to our destination and I know I enjoyed the independence and responsibility of sitting with a stranger.
    This just goes to show you that not every “stranger” is dangerous, and sometimes they can save us when we most need a hand up in the world.

  109. great comment, Mollie.
    What next…..gender-specific airlines? wow.
    I wonder what kind of world we’d have if men were actually encouraged to respect children…….war-free? Economically devoid of child-labor? Kid-friendly?
    But let’s single out their Y chromosome and encourage them to keep on their historical conventionalized path……death, destruction, doom.
    Male grizzlies apparently sometimes eat their young.
    I’m rather glad I’m not a grizzly, actually. I would hope that most citizens were capable of noticing how devoid I am of 4-inch canines and 6-inch claws.

  110. Ah, but Jp Merzetti, you have a penis…and that’s apparently where it all went wrong.

  111. What I want to know…what the hell are they afraid of happening in a crowded airplane???? even if the man were a complete raging pervert, its not like he is going to have an opportunity to do anything on a crowded flight with 15 people within 10′. Its just surreal.

  112. According to this source, Pastiche’s stats are wrong:

    http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/pages/child-sexual-abuse.asp

    “Women are the abusers in about 14% of cases reported against boys and about 6% of cases reported against girls.” This is assuming that the numbers aren’t under-reported, for which there is a significant argument, as other posters have pointed out.

    SKL: You’re saying we should support prejudice to protect corporations from liability, and wonder who will protect the airlines. The answer: judges, and they’ll quite likely rule that the airlines can’t protect you against any and every eventuality.

    You’re arguing that it’s “no big deal” since it won’t affect men’s ability to get jobs, etc. etc. The problem is that if we accept it here, we are reinforcing acceptance elsewhere — men will be blocked from entire fields, because we’re possible child molesters who couldn’t possibly have any ability to nurture.

  113. “Just how many incidents of inappropriate behavior do you think are necessary to justify a policy of some sort?”

    “A policy of some sort” is not quite the same as “all men will be presumed unsafe, women will be presumed safe.” If a policy is going to justified, it has to have some basis in legitimate risk-management, not “some level of risk” plus “blind fear.”

    As for how many do there need to be, I haven’t actually heard it mentioned whether there actually have been any at all. You are presuming there must be, because there must be some justification for this policy. But why? Is there no such thing as stupid corporate policy responding to the wrong incentives or resulting from over-reaction?

    If some evidence is given that any, or more than a tiny number of, such incidents have ever occurred on Virgin Atlantic or any other airlines, that would change the picture a lot. But unless I actually see that information, the unlikelihood of such an event in such a close-packed, carefully monitored, public situation is going to bias me toward assuming it’s much too small a problem for such a massively undiscriminating (in the sense of not discriminating between real risk factors and isolating half of humanity) policy.

  114. If, for example, there were a real risk factor, all unaccompanied minors would automatically be given aisle seats (so that the child would always been in plain view of attendants plus more passengers than in any other position.) That would reduce the risk near zero right there with no prejudice toward any class of people. Apparently Virgin Atlantic’s concern for liability, if that’s what’s really driving this, never extended that far before.

  115. Well, if there have been incidents or alleged incidents on Virgin (or any other airline), do you think they are likely to publicize them? I’m thinking that would (a) not be great for business and (b) lead to even more overreaction and irrational demands on the part of parents.

    In the business world, it is normal practice to design things with a low margin for risk. For example, the expiration dates on your food do not mean that your food is 100% certain to go bad on that date. What they do is decide on a risk tolerance (usually 5% or less) and determine what specs need to be followed in order to keep the fail rate below that risk tolerance. If the risk tolerance is 5%, then 95% of the time your food is still good on the expiration date (hence the ongoing validity of the sniff test). In other words, corporate safety standards are normally far in excess of what many individuals would accept. Now, what do you think their risk tolerance for molestation of unaccompanied minors is going to be? I’m thinking, pretty low. They are going to design measures that go way beyond what’s needed to keep the average kid safe from the average unsavory adult passenger. And they are going to take into account relevant statistical facts such as the ratio of male to female child sex offenders.

    In addition, plane travel is replete with excesses of “safety measures.” And there is most certainly discrimination involved. Yes, I’m sorry, but if you look and sound like a Middle Eastern Muslim, you are going to get searched more often than I am. Even though I will still get searched more often than I statistically should, in order to make it appear less racist. It is obvious that we are a long way from either rational or race-neutral behavior in the area of aviation safety.

    I also think that whoever made the policy probably did not expect any men to be particularly offended by it. They might have even thought men would appreciate it. I still can’t understand what the big deal is here. If you’re just an everyday traveler minding your own business, why do you care who’s sitting next to you, assuming they don’t stink? Obviously the airline should be respectful and discreet about it, but given that, so what if they switch the kid with some adult who is traveling alone? Really, I have been on many flights and all I want is for the people next to me to use deodorant and not let their oversized arse take up half of my seat. I’m not there to solve society’s ills.

  116. My comment is under moderation so I thought I’d try again and separate the links this time. 🙂

    Everyone on here who have said it’s impossible – it DOES happen. It happened to me when I was 13 – I never reported it because I was too embarrassed. Do a google search and you’ll see it has happened to other children, as well. In fact, Delta was SUED when it happened to a 12 year old girl a couple of years ago. Here’s the article:
    http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-500202_162-3366947.html
    Virgin is simply trying to cover themselves against a similiar situation happening. This is not just a knee jerk reaction. It’s been happening to to others. Who cares if it’s a rare situation if you end up being sued?

  117. Here’s another article talking about the issue and other issue that arise from it.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/07/business/global/07minors.html?pagewanted=all
    Namely Air France, who had a string of complaints about kids being molested when traveling alone, decided to only seat children alone with no adults. This caused an issue when, on one flight, oxygen masks were deplored and an 8 year old and 10 year old didn’t know how to put their masks on because there was no adults around to help (stewardesses eventually helped them.). Luckily they worked it out by sitting all unaccompanied minors together so a stewardess could easily help them. Honestly, I think sitting all unaccompanied minors together close to stewardesses – who are paid to help people – makes sense.

  118. In case the last two links weren’t enough to convince you it happens, here’s another one, involving a 13 year old and a navy chief petty officer. This guy was actually caught in the act by a flight attendant.

    http://www.navytimes.com/news/2008/01/ap_molest_080124/

  119. “Well, if there have been incidents or alleged incidents on Virgin (or any other airline), do you think they are likely to publicize them? I’m thinking that would (a) not be great for business and (b) lead to even more overreaction and irrational demands on the part of parents.”

    Come now, SKL, you claim to be far more intelligent than this. I don’t expect that AIRLINE to publicize it at all. However, for every child molestation there are at least 2-3 people involved outside the airline and molester … and that is only if charges are not pressed.

  120. Well, Donna, I thought maybe you’d stop accusing me of being off the wall once you saw Sarah’s links, but I guess not.

  121. “I’m sure you know that most cases of molestation (and other pedophile behaviors) are never reported at all, let alone to the mass media.”

    You are correct that little Susie getting molested by uncle Dave is not going to get reported beyond maybe the local news paper. Rampant molestation of unaccompanied minors on planes is actually going to make the news and grapevine. If this was limited to Virgin, I could see possibly not hearing about it in the US as Virgin is not a major player in the US. Virgin is a major carrier where I live and is very well-thought of.

    “Just how many incidents of inappropriate behavior do you think are necessary to justify a policy of some sort?”

    Well that just pretty much throws out free range parenting out the window because this is EXACTLY helicopter parents’ argument. Most helicopter parents know in their head that the odds of stranger abduction are low; they simply don’t care. Why? Because stranger abductions DO happen, albeit rarely, and life would really suck if it was your child so why risk it. The thinking that leads us to convictions for letting children walk to Pizza Hut because it is just too dangerous.

    This is yet another reason to molestation-proof your child and not try to control the world around her. Women molest children too. For all the flight attendant knows, she just moved a perfectly nice gentleman out and a sadistic child molester in, particularly considering this is a woman who just agreed to give up her nice child-free seat to sit next to a strange kid who may or may not be a total obnoxious brat as far as she knows. I think I’m more comfortable with the odds of the random stranger who blindly selected the seat next to my child not being a child molester, even if male, then I am the woman who chooses to sit next to my child on a plane for 4 hours. I don’t generally enjoy sitting with my child on a plane for 4 hours and I adore her.

    Teach your children to react and empower them to do so and you have absolutely no fear of who they sit next to on a plane. Unlike stores or parks, no weapons can be involved. The child can’t be abducted. A mere spoken “stop” or “leave me alone” can be heard by many people, most of whom would happily intervene because most people want to protect children. Flight attendants and other passengers are walking up and down the aisles nearly constantly – even while the seatbelt light is on – to grab attention. With the removal of blankets and pillows from most domestic flights, I’m not really sure how the molestation could occur, especially considering there is likely a 3rd person in the same aisle. You’d have to be pretty damn brazen to start fondling a kid with no cover and a 3rd person sitting right next to you.

  122. I have been flying alone since the age of 5. My grandparents lived in Switzerland and I lived in Boston, and since my parents worked, they couldn’t accompany me. I was handed over to the nice folks at Swissair (sometimes even to a male steward!!!), and had a silvery plastic pouch around my neck in which I put my passports and boarding passes.

    I sat next to all sorts of people. Men, women, other kids… most were happy to chat.

    The airlines are professional and the stewards and stewardesses checked often.

    What nonsense to think that sitting next to someone is dangerous!

    If someone wants to follow a kid into the restroom and molest them (has this ever even happened), he doesn’t need to be sitting next to them. And if he IS sitting next to them he’s not gonna go do it right in front of everyone!

  123. SKL, I don’t deny that it is possible that it has happened. Until recently, although this thread has been pending for days, nobody produced any evidence that it had. Stranger abduction happens too. I don’t think that you can come up with a single fear expressed by helicopter parents that has never happened anywhere in the world and is a complete figment of the parent’s imagination. They’ve all happen, probably repeatedly. There are bad people in the world. I hope my child never runs into one, but I am not going to live in fear that she will and I am not willing to brand an entire half of the population as a potential one based solely on the gender they happened to be born. You can choose differently, but I am not going to stop speaking out against something that I believe is wrong (the continued treatment of men as a danger to children, not where they sit on planes specifically). Through numerous threads, I’ve gotten the impression that you don’t particularly care for men in general so I don’t imagine that your opinion that it is okay to stigmatize them is going to change either.

  124. Did you not even read my story or my links, Donna? And there are dozens more like them on a simple google search. This DOES happen regularly. Yes, it’s rare. But like I said, why not a policy that has all unaccompanied minors sitting together where stewardesses can easily help them? This doesn’t take any freedom away from the child and reduces nearly all risk of molestations and of being sued – which has already happened more than once. (It’s not like locking your kid up indoors, which does stifle independence and exercise.) It’s not like helicoptering at all to make this policy – which some airlines already have. Virgin just needs to follow suite.

  125. Donna, did you read Sarah’s links? It is apparently not all that rare even. Also, an airline employee posted on the other thread that she sees all kinds of stuff you might not expect to encounter on a plane “because there are so many people who would see you do it.”

    Every time I’m on a plane, there are long periods of time when the aisles are blocked by the dang food/refreshment carts, and another significant chunk of time (if not the whole flight) the seatbelt sign is on. I think it would be pretty easy to do stuff to a kid (kids are usually afraid / embarrassed to speak up) if you were so inclined. Other people would probably assume that since you are sitting with the kid and acting familiar, you must be the child’s caregiver or relative.

    I agree that people need to teach their children what to do and say if someone bothers them on the plane. Of course, this requires not being in denial that anything can possibly happen on a plane.

  126. Not to mention if you have the kids sitting together, an adult who wants to get a little shut eye won’t have their ears talked off, LOL. 🙂

  127. Donna, I have no problem with men, thank you. A lot of my favorite people are men. I don’t think men need to interpret this measure the way you are interpreting it. In one of Sarah’s links, the victim’s dad even said the child should not have been seated next to a man.

    It seems some airlines have determined that unaccompanied minors are statistically safest sitting next to a woman, and yet we are forcing them to adopt a policy that is actually less safe for the kids. All because the truth hurts some hypersensitive men. The great dads in my life would be in favor of Virgin’s policy, because they themselves would not ask their daughters to sit next to a strange man for hours.

    And I think we’re confusing ourselves on the “rarity” of this kind of risk. Men who get aroused by young flesh are not that rare. Stranger abduction is rare because the abductor takes a great risk in trying to lure or snatch a child, and isn’t usually successful. But here, we’re talking about someone putting a youngster practically into the guy’s lap and leaving her there for hours. We can’t apply the rarity of stranger abduction to this case.

  128. The above is fearmongering hysteria and sad to see coming from adults.

    Try being male. Then get yourself kicked for being male. Nice, (sigh). I suppose some women get a little empowerment buzz off it.

    Fact of the matter is, it makes them losers in the end.

  129. SKL: Please don’t stigmatize me or other fathers because we’d rather have our children be capable and unafraid than sheltered from every possible thing that could go wrong.

    Sarah’s stats neither surprise me nor sway me. Let’s say she could dig up 30 kids this happens to every year. Millions of children fly every year. It’s statistically insignificant.

    “But here, we’re talking about someone putting a youngster practically into the guy’s lap and leaving her there for hours. We can’t apply the rarity of stranger abduction to this case.”

    Of course we can. Let’s start with the incredible unlikelihood that a given person beside a child is going to be a molester. Now, let’s assume the child is completely ill-equipped to reply — given that other kids scream “STRANGER DANGER!” at my four year old, I’d be surprised to find a kid who wouldn’t freak out at a bad touch.

    So, now we’ve got a kid who is completely uneducated in dealing with strangers (unlikely) seated beside a child molester (extremely unlikely). What are the chances the molester is going to act while trapped in a tube in the air, surrounded by hundreds of other passengers, possible air marshals, etc. etc.?

    I mean, really? This is what you’re trying to scare us with? By your logic, I shouldn’t send my child outside, because a lightning bolt might hit them. Heck, taking my child in a car is an insane risk, by your standards.

    Men are increasingly stigmatized in our society as potential perverts. I’ve had people in parks demand that I prove I’m my child’s father. I’ve had people snatch up their children and flee from me because I dared to speak to them….while in the presence of my own young child.

    So, no, I don’t think this is because “the truth hurts some sensitive males.” I think it’s because your level of reaction is ludicrous, and one more piece of the picture that’s being painted where all men are likely rapists or perverts. And frankly, I’m more than a bit sick of being treated with fear because I happen to have a given piece of anatomy.

  130. Ben, nobody is saying keep kids inside, or off planes, or keep them tied to their parents. The whole point is to facilitate a young kid’s independence in being able to travel without a parent. I said nothing suggesting any change in behavior by parents or children.

    Do you think it is better to let these things happen and then have the horror stories spread around? Does that make you feel more trusted as a man? Vindicated?

    I’ll tell you what. I’m pretty free-range, but I was molested as a kid, and so were many women I know. It’s not rare. And every case involved a male. Some friends, some strangers. It’s a crime of opportunity. This is a fact. And putting a child next to a stranger creates an opportunity. For which there is an easy fix. There is no pitchfork-wielding involved here; just a mild, quiet seating policy that hardly ever even gets noticed.

    If it weren’t for FRK, I would never have even heard of this policy. So much for the airlines’ fearmongering.

    You want to choose to feel offended. I can’t help you there.

    By the way, as a woman, I can’t quite sympathize with your self-pity over this horrid airline seat discrimination. Wanna trade grievances?

  131. You were molested. I was molested. Lots of people are molested, it’s true. I don’t feel any particular need to bubble-wrap the world so it never happens to anyone else, because -we can’t stop it from happening-. A determined molester is going to do it — period. We can make them less likely to do so by educating our children, improving rehabilitative treatment, etc. etc. But policies that demonize based on gender are not going to help.

    And if you can’t sympathize as a woman, it’s probably because you don’t experience a world in which most women and children are being taught to be terrified of you because you’re probably a rapist. You have your own set of issues that are gender-specific, and I’m no more suggesting you should sit idly by and accept those than I think you should be suggesting the same to me.

  132. Here’s a better question: change the group being stigmatized from men to, say, homosexuals. After all, many children’s parents might be uncomfortable knowing that a homosexual was seated near their child. Deeply conservative Christians would argue gleefully that homosexuals are trying to recruit the kids.

    So, what if the “quiet, unobtrusive” policy was moving homosexuals away from children? Would you be as supportive then? After all, it’s just a little policy. No one is really hurt by it, right?

  133. Anecdotally, the last three kids murdered where I live were all killed by their natural mothers. By that meaningless non-statistic, mothers should not be allowed to sit next to their children. Heck, mothers should not be allowed to raise their children.

    The problem with the airline policy is that it becomes self-fullfilling.

    “Did you hear that Bob was asked to move because the airline thought he might be a pedophile?”

    “Oh, that’s terrible.”

    “Did you know that Bob is a pedophile?”

    “No, I never would have thought….”

    “Let’s keep away from Bob, because you just never know…..”

    Yes this sort of thing is vicious, and totally wrong.

    Oh, and my kids fly a lot…. My son cashed in a frequent flyer ticket to Asia from the US when he was 5….

    And they fly unaccompanied. This last (overnight 11 hour) flight my daughter, 14, traveling solo, was seated next to another 14 year old girl and a “boy” who was 17. According to her, he was a creep. But according to the airlines he’s a minor and thus harmless. A grown man can’t sit next to a child, but a 17 year old “boy” can, I guess because a 17 year old can’t be a molester yet.

    And as for those who support this, at what age do you declare every male a pedophile? Are you saying that males go from “victim” to “villain” at the stroke of a clock? When exactly does this transition take place?

  134. When did anyone here or anywhere “declare every male a pedophile”?

    I thought we were against exaggerating bad stuff on this site.

  135. “most women and children are being taught to be terrified of you because you’re probably a rapist”

    How is this allegation any more rational or fair than the suggestion that a child is statistically safer sitting next to a female stranger versus a male stranger on a flight?

  136. @SKL: The airline policy declares every male a pedophile. At least a potential pedophile. Why else move them away from children?

  137. I guess they have also declared me (and my kids) terrorists since they put us through various security measures and didn’t let us near each other as we went through the scanner, etc.

  138. So Yan, what about the dad who was quoted as saying his daughter (who was molested by a man on a flight) should not have been seated next to a man? Is he calling you and himself molesters?

  139. Dr David Kenneth Cochrane Registered Sex Offender Six Counts of rape including minors, three counts of indecent assault all involving patients dating back to the early millennium. Psychiatrist 6 months in Jail, 2 years probation, including 6 month license suspension. North Bay Canada Ontario and now re-employed for the regional health centre.

  140. Dr David Kenneth Cochrane Registered Sex Offender Six Counts of rape including minors, three counts of indecent assault all involving patients dating back to the early millennium. Psychiatrist 6 months in Jail, 2 years probation, including 6 month license suspension. North Bay Canada Ontario and now re-employed for the regional health centre. etc

  141. ….So this man is likely to rape a kid in a quiet plane with seated passengers near him and the air crew walking up and down the isle. If I was him, I would Sue the airlines for making me look like a Paedophile!!!

  142. Online poll in the Sydney Morning Herald asking if people were for or against the policy of not sitting men next to unaccompanied children – 81% said they are against the policy, so the majority of people who read the Herald do not believe all men are rapist – hooray

  143. Well, it looks like the verdict is in: Pastiche, you’re stupid. Stop breathing. I mean it. Now! (Don’t worry, you’ll only pass out. But with any luck you’ll come to smarter.)

  144. “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.”

    Anytime a comment starts with something like “I’m sure this man/woman/gay man/gay woman/etc… is a lovely person, but. . . ”

    You always know there is something nasty and rotten following it.

  145. Ben Strafford, if you were truly molested as a child, you would want to prevent it from happening to another child in any reasonable way possible. Who cares if unaccompanied kids can’t sit next to strange men or women on planes? Why do you care so much if you are sitting next to an unaccompanied minor? If you were molested as a child, statistically speaking, YOU have a higher chance of molesting a child yourself. Is this why you care so much you are allowed to sit next to unaccompanied minors? I’m a guy and I could care less. I know there are a lot of creeps out there. I’m certainly not going to take a blanket policy protecting kids from a few creeps personally.

  146. I bet men are more likely to rape women than they are to rape children, so it’s probably better if they sit next to the children and not the children’s mothers. But I think women are more likely to be serial poisoners. Hm. Since poison is a lot easier to get onto a plane than a gun or a knife, maybe women shouldn’t be allowed on planes at all?

    Aren’t meaningless statistics fun?

  147. Elizabeth, your first sentence is what I always go back to in my mind. Most men are attracted to grownups (women or men), right? And most adult female rape victims were raped by a man, right?

    It seems to me that, if men are really this sexually needy, the chance of a man being unable to control himself around a grownup, on a crowded plane, is much greater than him being unable to control himself around a child.

  148. Why doesn’t the airplane company just screen passenger ticket lists against public police files, and take it from there? Not 100% effective, to be sure, but would have a limiting effect.

    I would hope “SKL” would read more of this website and come to appreciate the many problems associated with bubble-wrapped kids. . . and the many problems associated with fearmongering.

    I like the above post which notes the grave danger posed to our children, that of being struck by lightening!

  149. The majority of non-sexual child abuse is perpetrated by women as well as the majority of child murders so she was more likely to murder the child then he was so, oh my god children should never be around any stranger ohh… wait a child is far more likely to be abused or murdered by people they know especially their family… that’s it all children should be sent to an island where they will grow up away from all adults, it is the only way to make sure their safe.
    Yes, I know south park did it (only sans the island, and with Mongolians)

  150. Captain America, I’m one of the most active people here and have been for years. My kids are about the most free-range kids in my county. They even have male teachers and coaches, oh my. Not sure if that changes your perspective or not. Too bad nobody seems willing to read Sarah’s links. I think her posts are among the most sane here.

  151. Thanks, SKL. Unfortunately people want to believe what they want to believe and are unwilling to look at facts or reason. It makes them no better off than helicopter parents. What we need is a breed of people willing to look at facts, intelligently assess the risk versus solution and make wise decisions. The fact that this happens dozens of times each year – regardless if they are small compared to the number of unaccompanied minors flying – and we realize that they can be stopped COMPLETELY simply by making a very small change that doesn’t affect the ability of children to fly unaccompanied or their independence – than why are we fighting it to sooth hurt feelings of GROWN MEN. Come on folks. A real man would want to protect these kids, as well, and not get his feelings hurt that he was being treated unjustly.

  152. “A real man would want to protect these kids, as well, and not get his feelings hurt that he was being treated unjustly”

    I’m just glad that your assessment of a ‘real man’ has no bearing on me whatsoever. A ‘real’ FRK would evaluate the actual costs involved and not assume it to be ‘hurt feelings’. A ‘real’ FRK wouldn’t be labeling people who respectfully disagree with the cost/benefit analysis as not wanting to ‘protect these kids’.

  153. But there is no cost. There is no benefit in “having” to sit next to an unaccompanied minor. What do you lose by not sitting next to a 12 year old girl? What could the 12 year old girl lose by possible sitting next to someone who can cause her emotional scars for the rest of her life because he stuck his hands in her panties – something that happens regularly on airplanes. It’s a win win situation for everyone.

  154. “someone who can cause her emotional scars for the rest of her life because he stuck his hands in her panties”

    Let me be clear: doing that is absolutely heinous and reprehensible. But the only way something that doesn’t go beyond “sticks his hands in her panties” on a single occasion could cause emotional scars for the rest of her life is if she’s subsequently surrounded by people who constantly tell her it’s supposed to.

    “something that happens regularly on airplanes.”

    Now it’s “regularly?”

    “It’s a win win situation for everyone.”

    You’ve made the case that an individual man shouldn’t care about being stigmatized or that we shouldn’t care about an increasingly pervasive tendency to regard men as a dangerous class. You haven’t quite succeeded in showing how it’s a “win” to a perfectly innocent man to be inconvenienced for the sake of a child he had only positive intentions toward, or for society to continue down this path. Maybe in your view it’s nothing we should care enough about to matter, but a “win” usually involves something actually positive.

    Only if a man is somehow capable of believing that he wasn’t going to harm a child but she’s somehow safer not next to him anyway, does this make sense.

  155. BTW, what the 12 year old girl could lose is the ability to relate to the 99.9% of adult men who would never harm her, in a healthy way, by constantly being sent the message that she needs to be protected from any and all of them, all the time.

    And as I pointed out before, if they were interested in *effective* means of protecting children from molesters, there are all kinds of other things they could do before they needed to get the point of simply assuming that any given man was a potential danger to any given child, and that every possible woman was safe.

  156. It’s rather like the TSA — pick an intrusive and offensive method that satisfies public paranoia, ignore other effective methods.

  157. I think this could be done discreetly enough for the kids to not even notice it.

    I mean, does the fact that most early childhood teachers are female make kids believe men are after them sexually?

    Is there that much intellectual benefit in sitting next to a man versus sitting next to a woman on a flight? Surely kids can find other opportunities to chat with male strangers if it’s that valuable. After all, most kids will never
    take an unaccompanied flight in the first place.

  158. Sarah (and SKL) I’m going to start with my main point.

    Sometimes non-evil non-stupid people really do pay attention to your case, and understand it, and disagree.

    As my grandmother’s friend liked to say “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch”.

    The costs include: simply having a policy that has to be communicated to all staff, and effected. The latter is probably bigger, in that you must modify your seating software to handle more special cases, and your seating is now less flexible. Now you have to get a travelers gender before you can let them pick their own seat. You can’t let a female/male pick seats in the same row as an unaccompanied minor, or they might happen to switch seats from assigned. Or you have the cost of explaining to them why the woman has to sit between the child and the man. And while you’re willing to dismiss ‘hurt feelings’ you are going to incur the cost of having to explain this to passengers, which is a cost. And if you do seat a woman next to two kids, and she’s a no-show, and you only have a man as a standby, then you have to juggle things and find a single woman to take the empty seat next to the kids so your stand-by man can take the seat vacated by the single woman.

    And we have the cost of further institutionalizing the idea that random men are dangerous, and random women are safe (assuming you’re going for the ‘women can sit next to kids, but not men’ option). In one of your cited examples, it was a woman who tried to molest a boy, and the boy’s attempt to raise the issue were ignored. THAT is a cost. Women also sexually molest kids, and when we assume they don’t, we further stigmatize the victim.

    And yes, ‘hurt feelings’ AKA the right to not be assumed a predator, is a cost. My feelings don’t trump everything, but if you’re willing to ‘hurt the feelings’ of nearly half the population in this case, then there must be a ton of other ways in which you don’t think men should be able to interact with children. An airplane is not particularly unique, and is certainly one of the least common ways in which children are sexually abused.

    I’m fighting the temptation to keep arguing, because the argument has been made. Which is why I started with my conclusion.

  159. As for the comment about the TSA assuming we’re terrorists:

    That’s exactly what they’re doing when they put us through body scanners to check for weapons and bombs, or force us to submit to frisking if we want to board a plane. Everyone is a terrorist until proven otherwise.

    And much like the policy of not letting men sit next to UMs, it doesn’t make anyone safer. The TSA hasn’t caught a single terrorist.

  160. @Monica the important difference being that they subject everyone to the same level of screening. And it’s impossible to measure the preventative effect of screening. But in principle I agree, locked cockpit doors, and awareness of the new paradigm that hijackers are ready to die are the big things keeping us safe.

    I would actually agree that profiling of potential child molesters makes more sense from a threat analysis POV in that it’s not a crime that can happen by proxy. You can’t get someone else to do your molesting for you, but you can get someone else to do your bomb carrying for you.

  161. Well, talking about statistics: The chance that a stranger will sexually abuse a child is very low. Actually more than 2/3 of all offenders are family members or close friends of the family. You may want to change the policy: A child must not sit next to his parents. You think that would be a strange policy? Yes, it would – as well as the current one.

  162. Since most pedophiles are family or close friends, you should be more concerned about the mom than a stranger on a plane. What exactly is the guy going to do, molest the kids in front of a bunch of people? Not likely. Sure anything is possible, but I’ve been riding public transportation since I was a kid and NOT ONCE did anything bad happen unless you count smelly people or not having the right amount of change. In fact, the only time something bad ever happened to me was when I was with FRIENDS (or so I thought.). And by that time I was 17. Bad things can and do happen, but usually, if you’re going to be molested you will probably know the person. I feel safer around strangers sometimes!

    p.s. i let my 3 year old talk to strangers. My philosophy is if you teach your kids to be smart about who they are talking to and about what, then talking to strangers could actually be a benefit. You don’t want your kid who is hurt or lost to be scared to talk to some nice strangers who will help, right?

  163. James on August 14th: Wow. So, because I don’t agree with this policy, you insinuate that I’m a child molester? Jerk much?

    “Ben Strafford, if you were truly molested as a child, you would want to prevent it from happening to another child in any reasonable way possible.”

    I do. And trying to put our kids in a bubble is going to solve the problem. Teaching them how to deal with adults will. Putting me in a bubble wouldn’t have saved me — someone who is that intent on assaulting someone is going to find a way to do it. Period. Deterring the less violent offenders will also not be solved by putting kids in a bubble.

    In fact, if you put kids in a bubble, you’re making them -more- likely to be molested, not less, because they’ll have no idea how to recognize a good adult from a bad one. Socializing children via interaction is the only way those skills develop.

    “I’m a guy and I could care less.”

    Then you’re not thinking. I have a son, and I don’t want him to grow up in a world where he’s demonized because of his gender. This policy claims (as numerous writers have pointed out above) that all men are potential pedophiles, to the exclusion of anybody else, in the mistaken belief that it will protect children. And it won’t. The same sick bastard who could sneakily molest a child on an enclosed tube, filled with people, isn’t going to be deterred by a policy being enforced by airline attendants who have a half-zillion other things to do.

    In short, you’re an idiot, and an insulting idiot, to boot.

    Also, learn to read: “Trafford”

  164. Edit last comment: “trying to put our kids in a bubble is going” — isn’t going, rather

  165. That’s right, let’s punish men. Hurry up, get out there and punish one today– it will make you feel all better!

  166. The only women who support this policy are pedophiles themselves. They want a greater chance to sit next to unaccompanied minors. It is obvious this reader like to touch little kids the facts support themselves.

  167. […] treated like one. The story combined an conflict (although not everybody disagreed with Virgin’s policy). Virgin are now reviewing […]

  168. Not all men are pediphiles but any one of them could be. Not all pedephiles are men either. Is the seating arrangement that much of a big deal for him to get mad over it? I’m a mom of 2 who loves kids and would never harm them, but if not sitting next to unaccompanied minors makes someone feel safer then I would move my seat. Respecting other people, making them feel safe, helping out a stranger, teaching kids about boundaries and being carful; these are all things worth the slight inconvenience of a change of seating.

  169. Sorry Lenore, but I’ve recently read an article about how the airlines let down unaccompanied minors in their care, and there have been quite a few cases of sexual assault on minors from men sitting next to them. I believe I read it in the NYT, but can’t be sure.

  170. @pamb: Read an article? Can’t be sure where?

    I’ve read about all sorts of unsourced accusations, but that doesn’t mean that they’re true. If we’re going to spread fear and alarm, let’s at least cite the source. And, these days, the NYT (if that were indeed the source) is far from being a reliable source.

    And ‘quite a few cases of sexual assult on minors from men seated next to them’…..one case, ten cases,…..two thousand cases?

    Nuts.

  171. 99% of sexual abuse isn’t male, more like 80% (not sure where the numerous cases of female teachers having sex with students fits in here). Over 50% of physical abuse of children comes from women however, just read stats from 2011 an hour ago. Men were at like 46%, women at 54%. Also men are involved in more accidents because men drive more often when in a heterosexual couple and yes men do drive more aggressively. If women were objectively “better” drivers then where are they on the racing circuits? The answer is in the stands.
    Insurance claims aren’t a testament to driving ability. I know numerous scary female drivers who will never add to the stats because their husbands don’t let them drive when they ride together. Thus the courteousness and protectiveness of men of the women they love is actually backfiring due to overinflated accident stats

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