Qantas Defends Policy To Bar Males From Sitting Next To Unaccompanied Minors

There is an interesting story below about airlines that force men to switch seats when they are seated next to an unaccompanied child out of fear that they could be child molesters. A firefighter recounts how he was forced to move on a Virgin Australia flight because there was a child next to him. Qantas has actually defended the discriminatory policy.

Ironically, some male travelers may silently relish the idea of never having to sit next to a minor on flights, but most would be insulted by the stereotype underlying the policy.

Women are actually statistically more likely to abuse a child overall. Three-fifths (61.8%) of perpetrators in one study were female. However, in fairness, it should be noted that women are more likely to be caregivers and around children. Moreover, this is for any form of abuse as opposed to sexual abuse. Males are higher in that category. However, the study below found that roughly 30 percent of perpetrators of sexual assault of minors were female. In the category ages up to 18, the percentage went to 40 percent. Another study found the rate to be 20 percent. Overall, studies show that child sexual abuse fell more than 60 percent from 1992 to 2010. The New York Times reported last month that from 1990 to 2010, for example, substantiated cases of sexual abuse dropped from 23 per 10,000 children under 18 to 8.6 per 10,000, a 62 percent decrease, with a 3 percent drop from 2009 to 2010.

Studies can vary, of course, but the question is whether this is based on stereotypical or statistical foundations.

In the case of the Daniel McCluskie, 31, the move not only left people staring at him but the attention got worse after the flight attendant thanked a woman who they asked to move to take his seat next to a ten-year-old girl. McCluskie is a senior nurse at the local health district in Wagga Wagga.

A spokesman stated that “Qantas’s policy is consistent with other airlines around the world and is designed to minimise risk. The policy reflects parents’ concerns and the need to maximise the child’s safety and well-being.” That is news to me since I just flew back to Washington from Salt Lake City with an unaccompanied 12 year old girl. We talked about her sports and the sports of my four kids for the entire flight. If anything, I would insist that she was a bad influence on me. We ended up making fun of the fact that the pilot seemed unable to say double digits numbers and would instead say “one four” for “fourteen.” It was a wonderfully juvenile flight.

Qantas says that there is usually no problems because it intentionally reallocates seats to avoid males sitting next to unaccompanied children before take off.

British Airways was sued in 2010 for this ridiculous policy and agreed to change it pursuant to the Sex Discrimination Act. However, the airline now seats unaccompanied children in their own area.

Frankly, these policies appear more about hysteria than fact. There is always a danger of crime and I must admit to be an overly protective parent with my kids particularly at malls and similar locations. However, to assume males are a such a clear and present danger to children is insulting and unsupported in my view.

What is really interesting is that I told my wife about this policy this morning expecting that she would share my view that the policy is an outrageous act of discrimination and insulting to men. Despite her consistent liberal views, Leslie was actually ambivalent and felt it was better to err on the side of caution by moving the child or the male. Leslie is uncomfortable with a 100 percent rule but still is ambivalent about the general policy.

My mother-in-law Suzanne was a flight attendant for 20 years and never saw a case of molestation against a minor. On United, they never enforced such a rule. Suzanne does not agree with the Qantas policy.

What do you think?

Source: SMH

Here is the study referenced above: Forge Study

70 thoughts on “Qantas Defends Policy To Bar Males From Sitting Next To Unaccompanied Minors”

  1. Hubert Cumberdale 1, August 16, 2012 at 9:29 am

    Not to mention all the countless undetected accounts of molestation from females because they are all assumed to be safe.
    What about the old women who try to put their hands in your pocket during church service when the preacher is preaching? That didn’t work.

    They have a certain expression on their face. An adolescent boy. Her elderly boyfriend was setting right beside her when she tried it. Old woman was lucky I was a civilized kid.

    1. Kraaken,

      Most of us love our pet animals. I do too, but also am into mystical creatures also. We have a magnificent statue of St. George fighting the Dragon and rescuing a maiden in the Old Town here in Stockholm.

      Can we attach files here at WP? Could send a photo of him to you. It is a modern copy of a medieval statue in the Stor Kyrkan (Bit Church) there.

      Have a nice weekend.

  2. Robert, nowadays, most people purchase their tickets and choose their seats on the web. When the date for their trip comes, they check in from home on the web and print out their boarding pass. There really isn’t much need to visit the check in counter anymore.

  3. Why can’t the Airline assign passengers’ seats properly (according to their seating policies for unaccompanied minors, emergency exit seating, weight distributions, etc) when issuing boarding passes upon check-in, instead of re-assigning passengers after they are seated and have stowed their baggage on the aircraft?. Seems somewhat negligent and unprofessional !

  4. Kraaken,

    Culture barriers again. Will check urban dictionary.
    Anywho, the knowledge of Norsk folk tales is unusual for your age group. Norway has the sea as enemy, and the Swedes the forest creatures. Acquiring and nurturing falls, inho, under the category of saying, one way or another, “I am different!”. Continues up in the years, mostly.

    If your still into it and want a good book, try searching Amazon for a book with lllustrations by John Bauer.
    Guess the tales are OK too. He is the best illustrator of such creatures.

    You won’t see me grappling with giant squids. CUL.

  5. Put the little twerps in handcuffs and stick them in the luggage compartment.
    Next, have a policy to not seat me next to some grandma with six kids to brag about. Put the fat people in the same rows. Put the frequent peeing lyers near the johnny on the spot.

  6. ID707: The actual word is spelled ‘Kraken’ and it is a sea monster like a giant squid on streoids from Norse folk legends. I put a double ‘A’ in because, at the time, I thought that was how it was spelled. As for bulletin boards, these were the precursors of services like AOL or Compuserve; usually they were local networks with an emphasis on, say, literature or music, or computer tech. In those early days (early 80s) one could get some really odd people wanting to converse at length. I decided that if someone wanted to start up a conversation and could tell me what my screen name meant, then they were probably worth the time spent. I was a bit of a prig in my late teens.

  7. Maybe there is a solution…..put a “bundling board” between the child and the seatmate. It could just slide between the seats and would only have to be about eight inches high – still low enough so the child is fully visible, but impossible for some person to go fumbling around under a blanket. It could be “advertised” as a vomit protection board so the adult seatmate is not looked upon as “suspicious”.

  8. idealist707: No, ID, I’m not (although my other half has a Norwegian background). I’m completely Irish. I’ve used that moniker for a very long time. Used to be that it was a sort of ‘IQ test’ when there were still such things as bulletin boards (and before some relatively recent adventure films with a kraken as a character). I figured I would converse with anyone smart enough to know what a Kraaken was. 🙂

    1. Kraaken,

      If I am not mistaken kraaken is a common bird of the crow family here in Sweden. The double AA is used to denote Å where that letter Å is not available, as on your keyboard.

      Hope your program renders it. It is an A with a círcle above it.

      Did not understand your explanation as don’t have same cultural references.

  9. Would like a reading on my supposition that airlines in effect transfer their supervision of the child to the woman passenger assigned the replaced male’s.

  10. Malisha wrote “This kind of discrimination doesn’t bother me too much; where are the damages? Are males a protected class (See Joshua DeShaney versus Winnebago County…)? ”

    This discrimination is particularly offensive. It’s assuming that a woman passenger wouldn’t molest a younger passenger. There are women in jail for such. Not to mention all the countless undetected accounts of molestation from females because they are all assumed to be safe.

    The fair thing would be that they have to sit by themselves, if there is this huge threat that someone is going to bother them in flight. Don’t single out males and discriminate. Females are fully capable of harming children.

    And males aren’t by any means a “protected class”. If anything, they’re the ones that are usually discriminated against.

  11. Okay, I’m still awake, but I’m about to go to sleep. It’s after midnight, central standard time.

  12. Gene, I normally agree with you on most issues, but on this, we will have to disagree. As I said earlier, discrimination of ANY sort still remains discrimination. You can call a horse a pig, but that doesn’t mean it IS one. Likewise, a man is not, de facto, a child molester simply because he is a man. To treat him any differently from anyone else, male or female, on a flight is to say, in essence, ‘we think you are a child molester because you are a male’. I am pretty sure that they allow women to sit next to unaccompanied males. Although I’m not an attorney, I would think this WOULD be actionable. Suits are brought for MUCH more frivolous reasons, and this would be a chance to settle this issue (geez, I can’t believe I just wrote that!).

  13. Believe it or not. I was on a Northwestern Airlines flight from Milwaukee to Boise. Stopover in Minneapolis. I was in the window seat, and there was a girl in the center seat who looked like she was about eight years old. I was reading a book and the girl leaned against me and fell asleep. I didn’t like it, but I just kept reading the book.

  14. Jay S.,

    That you are more susceptible to public opinion than me is stipulated, however, you’re asserting facts into the situation we don’t know. Again, how the man was asked to move is relevant, but as a matter of defamation not necessarily discrimination. If the airline employee had crossed that boundary (“Sir, you need to move because I think you’re a pedophile.”) you can guarantee I’d have sued them. That’s what is getting lost in framing this issue as bad policy as discrimination. Was it handled in a way that was defamatory (I think) is far more relevant and has a greater chance of being actionable than a claim based in discrimination.

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