Parents Who Allow Kids at 'Occupy Wall Street' Set Bad Example

kid arrested occupy wall streetAmong the 700 people arrested at Saturday's Occupy Wall Street march across the Brooklyn Bridge was a young girl reported to be around 12 or 13 years old. In fact, she was among the first arrested and was near the front lines of the march.

The first thing I thought as I watched the live feed of her arrest was "Oh my God, her poor mother!" Can you imagine your tween getting arrested at a 2,000-strong protest? My son is only 7 now, but I definitely wouldn't want this to happen to him if he were the same age. 

But for all I know, she may have been marching with her parents -- and her parents may see this as a valuable experience in civil action.

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We still don't know anything about the girl, just that she was wearing that goofy green hat and had flaming red hair -- definitely a free spirit, and I don't think this experience will crush that spirit. She's smiling, for crying out loud. In fact, I admire the girl's bravery.

My misgivings about allowing a 12-year-old to attend a mass protest like this probably have more to do with my own anxieties as a parent than with the actual risks. I try to be pretty free-range in my parenting style, letting my son take reasonable physical risks. Crowds, though, make me nervous. You can pick up your kid if he falls and skins his knee. You can't do much if a crowd turns into a stampede and swallows your kid.

And I think that as long as your child is a minor, you shouldn't condone behavior that could get them arrested, period, even if it's for a good cause. Getting arrested is for grown-ups! Well, it's not for anyone, really, but it's definitely not for kids.

If your child is passionate about a cause, there are ways to enable her participation that also teach her how to avoid arrest or physical harm. Instead of marching up front, she could have followed toward the back of the march, or she could have joined the other group marching up the pedestrian walkway. 

Marching on the front lines of a protest and getting arrested -- isn't this a valuable life lesson your kid could learn after she turns 18?

 

Image via YouTube

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