Is this responsible parenting? (Cage diving for kids)

I saw part of this TV show on Discovery Channel this weekend:

I’m not sure exactly why the kids have to cage dive with the sharks in order to save them…but that aside, do you think this is responsible parenting? I’m of the opinion that it seems to be putting them at a needless risk. (But then again, I thought that Steve Irwin was going too far when he fed chickens to the crocs while holding his infant son.)

In 1840 it was responsible to let your 14 year old son go on a whaling voyage with 80 men aboard a 90 foot vessel.

In 2007 we need more things aside from video games to excite our youth. So why not stick them in a aluminum cage to taunt a 22-hundred pound meat eating fish with big teeth into checking them out at close range?

Heck that’s better than playing with G.I. Joes or Super Mario…


I think it sounds like the father is mixing a genuine interest in sharks (and animal conservation) with a love of adventure and a dash of sensationalism.

And I think that the opportunity to promote this love of sharks and animal conservation on the Discovery Channel is influencing his decision-making process.

But I don’t honestly know whether the risks are high enough to justify calling it irresponsible parenting. Nor do I know how one would calculate the risks involved.

And I do think that it matters that these kids sound unlikely to live normal lives, anyway–and probably do have parents who are aware of the risks, although potentially inclined to underestimate the risks in the classic “I’ve done risky thing before and not had bad things happen” fashion. (Which, in my opinion, is more or less what killed Steve Irwin–repeated risky behavior over a long period of time. I have no reason to believe that the particular activity he was engaged in at the time of his death was substantially more or less risky than other things which he had done, but I don’t think he was the type to die in bed).

So it all cycles back to I don’t aprove, I would not permit my (hypothetical) child to dive with the sharks, but I’m not qualified to judge the risks involved. And really, is it that much better to wrap children in cotton batting than to risk some injury? (Note the changes in attitudes towards car seats and even seat belts in the last 50 years. Or smoking, or drunk driving or . . . )

An excellent response, I think.

My father went on a 4-week, 300-mile wilderness canoe trip when he was 13 (his brother, age 17, was in charge). There certainly are hazards associated with such things, but we do well to consider the hazards that might be associated with a failure to embrace what is adventurous and risky.

Naming your kids Storm, Cruise and Wilder? Completely irresponsible.

I used to work for Outward Bound. I cannot tell you how many kids I saw - who never set foot in the wilderness - come forward, and step up to any challenge we posed to them. This chark thing though mildly shocking, is not outside the realm of the obscure.

Oh, ju-heeze, what timing. :smack: I’m sitting here chewing my fingernails because my 14 year old is about to go spend two weeks on a boat with the grandfather he barely knows. In another state. Where there are alligators and mosquitoes the size of your hand, and sunburns and if he falls overboard it’s a 13 foot drop to the water and then he has to swim 50 feet to the stern to get to the ladder, and…

And to get there he has to fly alone and he’s only been on a plane once and what if he doesn’t speak up when he needs to barf, because he never speaks up and says what he needs, and what if he doesn’t hear the overhead announcement and turn off his DS when instructed and the whole plan crashes, or the terrorists on board pick the American Pie looking blond boy traveling alone to hold a knife to while they hijack the plane, or what if the airline employee who’s supposed to deliver him to my father just wanders away and he’s left all alone in the Miami airport…

Miami! Oh, noes! I’ve seen Miami Ink. And Miami Vice. There’s drugs and guns and motorcycles and women walking down the street in bikinis with tramp stamps and what if they’re hookers and they try to proposition him and…


Gotta do it. Gotta let the kid breathe, and take risks, and do stupid, possibly life-threatening stuff. 'Cause not doing so is not letting him live.

You put them out there in a shark cage so they don’t decide to jump in with the sharks all on their own.

Agreed. :smiley:

That said, is cage diving with sharks really that much more dangerous than diving under normal circumstances? I don’t know, but it seems that it wouldn’t be. However, I think 7 and 9 is a bit young even for normal diving, what with the attention span most youngsters seem to have.

Well, they did mention chumming–i.e., putting dead fish parts in the water to attract sharks. I’m not sure if they were chumming during the dive or just when they were tagging some other, smaller sharks. If they were chumming during the dive, then it’s not just like diving–it’s like diving with bait.