Notes from a litigious society
I would like to congratulate Justice Paul Wooten of the State Supreme Court in Manhattan for his no-nonsense ruling that 4-year-old children should be open to lawsuits for biking recklessly. In the case of 4-year-olds Juliet Breitman and Jacob Kohn, who accidentally ran down an 87-year-old woman while riding their training-wheel bikes in Manhattan, Justice Wooten has proven himself to be a fine judge of childhood.
“A parent’s presence alone does not give a reasonable child carte blanche to engage in risky behavior such as running across a street,” the judge wrote. He added that any “reasonably prudent child,” who presumably has been told to look both ways before crossing a street, should know that dashing out without looking is dangerous, with or without a parent there. The crucial factor is whether the parent encourages the risky behavior; if so, the child should not be held accountable.
In Ms. Menagh’s case, however, there was nothing to indicate that Juliet’s mother “had any active role in the alleged incident, only that the mother was ‘supervising,’ a term that is too vague to hold meaning here,” he wrote. He concluded that there was no evidence of Juliet’s “lack of intelligence or maturity” or anything to “indicate that another child of similar age and capacity under the circumstances could not have reasonably appreciated the danger of riding a bicycle into an elderly woman.”
No evidence of a lack of intelligence or maturity, indeed. As we all know, 4-year-olds are exceedingly mature and no one doubts their cunning.
What we really need are more reasons to keep kids from playing outside, engaging in physical activity, and generally engaging in traditional ‘childhood’ or ‘kid’ behavior. Why let them ride real bikes – obviously a recipe for death and mayhem – when they could be playing biking games on their Wii? Better yet, we should keep them in school all day, year round, so they can learn to be productive individuals contributing to society, rather than little monsters gleefully running down old ladies.
Lawsuits are a good first step, of course, but certainly not enough to stave off the coming epidemic of overly active children. 4-year-olds found biking recklessly – training wheels or no – should be prosecuted by the full force of the law. Our prisons are under populated, and especially so in regards to this particular demographic. Time to crack down on these little hooligans, show them we mean business.
Furthermore, parents need to engage in pre-emptive measures to ensure this sort of behavior doesn’t come to pass in the first place. It is quite likely your child suffers from ADHD and should be promptly medicated. A combination of television, prescription drugs, and repetitive schooling should do the trick.
Likewise, we as conscientious citizens and voters need to petition our legislators and the federal government to create programs to deal with this growing problem. Perhaps this could become the next cause célèbre for this or a future First Lady – though, admittedly, it’s possible some of these solutions may come into conflict with the current First Lady’s project to end childhood obesity.
Nonetheless, we must assess our fears: a nation of rotund, placid, and ultimately manageable children is far less dangerous than a nation of diminutive barbarians with nothing better to do than run down octogenarians on the streets. Really, this is a matter of national security. As such, I recommend the installation of cameras in every school and home where young children live to ensure that enough is being done to maintain their passivity and to make certain corrective actions may be taken should children show signs of too much activity or liveliness.
Together, these actions will lead to a more docile population, less likely to bend rules or break laws, and more certain to grow into good, upstanding citizens who will pass along such good habits and practices to their own children, should they ever work up the desire and/or motivation to procreate.