Saturday, August 25, 2007

Reality usually means work

The CBS reality show "Kid Nation" has come under heavy fire recently, for possibly violating child safety and labor laws. According to the contract parents signed, they had to agree to do whatever they were told, 24 hours a day, seven days a week or risk expulsion.

CBS had envisioned "Kid Nation" to be an inspiring story of 40 kids making it on their own in the wild west. They had the children on an old movie lot in New Mexico, near Santa Fe and it has been reported that the location was chosen to skirt child labor laws. The kids, 8 to 15 years-old, were there for 40 days with very little contact with their parents.

Now it has been revealed that one parent has complained to New Mexico authorities that conditions were abusive and that several children were harmed. CBS does state that there were some minor injuries during production but that they were treated promptly by professionals. They also stated that the kids were in good hands and had safety procedures that rival any any school or camp in the country. Most of the parents have expressed no problems with their child participating in the program.

I won't debate the legal questions that have arisen, I haven't seen the 22 page contract the parents all signed, nor am I familiar with the laws cited. What I do know is that this is a "reality show" and as such, there isn't the coddling and hand holding of many programs. The children spent a little over a month away from their parents, much as children would do in a summer long camp program or at a boarding school. I would like to know though, what is so wrong with the idea of children learning to do on their own, become independent and actually spending 40 days away from the television and video games? It may actually be a good family show to share, one where parents can see that they don't have to do every little thing for their children, every day and kids might see that there is a lot out in the world to enjoy that doesn't need batteries.

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