by Amna El Tawil
It’s the right of every child to have a carefree life with peace, safety, and freedom to play with their friends. Unfortunately, kids are victims of trafficking and it’s needless to mention that pedophiles are lurking on the internet, around schools, even at playgrounds. It’s disgusting and kids should be protected. While most people assume the protection would come in the form of stricter laws and other measures, LA councilman proposed a solution that shocked everyone – playground ban for all single adults without kids. That would mean that if you’re an adult person without the presence of a child, you wouldn’t be able to, let’s say sit on the bench and relax and so on.
Council member Mitch O’Farrell proposed that adults who are not accompanying children should be banned from the perimeter of playgrounds in the parks and ticketed for violating the regulation. The Democrat said he is putting forward the motion following complaints from his constituents about drug dealing in the city parks. The council is due to debate the proposal in coming weeks.
The proposal is based on a similar law in New York which led to an uproar in 2011 after two women were ticketed for eating donuts on a park bench near a playground. According to the NRPA: “Enforcement of the exclusive playground rule has generated some adverse media publicity for the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation (NYC Parks). In one instance, seven men were cited for playing chess in a playground park. In another, a woman was ticketed for eating a doughnut in a park playground.”
— Oliver-Sweeney-Cohen (@dd10023) December 29, 2016
Further commentary: Critics have rounded on the idea as a nanny-state affront to single people. Also, it’s not just about single people, it’s the idea that every adult who’s in the area without a child is considered dangerous. Some innocent man can be regarded as a drug dealer, pedophile, and so on. This type of generalization only contributes to the rising trend of discrimination and if you ask me, we have enough of that today. End of commentary.
It comes as no wonder why the proposed ban was met with such a harsh criticism. The Los Angeles Times editorial wrote: “Who wouldn’t want to ban creepy activity or creepy people from playgrounds? But what O’Farrell is proposing goes far beyond targeting worrisome activities that, in most cases, are already outlawed. It would bar any adult from sitting on a bench, exercising or otherwise enjoying public space near playground unless he or she brought a child along. Is this really necessary?… O’Farrell argues that we can’t assume every adult who wanders into a children’s play area is benign. But why should the city assume that every adult without a child is a pedophile? That makes a childless adult a criminal just for being in a particular public space, which is an overreach that can lead to foolish enforcement — like ticketing people for sitting on a bench eating donuts.”
His Facebook page was swamped by comments from people who don’t agree with the proposed ban, but at this point, all guest posts are deleted and it’s not possible to add new ones. However, The Guardian mentioned several, including:
- “I am a single person, who has often had legitimate reasons to spend time in a children’s playground without a child,” wrote Krystal Rains. “I take offense at the implication that I am a danger to anyone, child or adult when doing so.”
- “That is ludicrous, I’m a woman over 60 years old and I can’t go to a playground,” said another post, from Cathy Prange. “My best memories are of my children and how much fun we had.”
- Robert Alvarez said: “You can spin it any way you want but you are stigmatizing single people who visit the park as pedophiles. Shame on you.”
- “I have a bad back, and frequently use playground equipment to hang, and stretch out my back. Would you make me a criminal for trying to get some pain relief?” wrote Gary Lynch.
After the uproar, O’Farrell tried to justify his proposal mentioning it only applies to certain areas of parks and playgrounds, but do you believe him?