Living in rural Newfoundland, and on the west coast of the province, we tend to get lots of snow. When I was a kid I spent untold hours playing in the stuff, sliding, making snowmen, and having snow ball fights with my friends (and enemies). Nowadays, that isn’t good enough for kids. They want their OWN snowmobiles.
Many of the kids in the community have snowmobiles of their own. The legal age for operating a snowmobile is 16, but some parents think that their 9 year old’s are quite capable of operating snowmobiles, and not the kiddie types either. Most ‘parents’ around here have opted to purchase full size and high powered snowmobiles for their small children.
The other day a friend asked me if I planned on buying my 10 year old a snowmobile. He said that he knew of a guy who had one for sale. My 10 year old doesn’t change his underwear and socks if he isn’t told to do so, so I don’t thing his maturity level is high enough to own one. I don’t think the other kids are mature enough either. I replied that he wasn’t old enough to drive one. His response was “aw, all the kids have them, they fly around my backyard with them!”. My response to that was that just because ‘all’ the kids have one doesn’t mean mine will have one.
He did have one thing right though. In winter, kids from the ages of 7-12 drive snowmobiles in people’s yards at incredible speed and with total recklessness. Not one parent sticks around to supervise them, and eventually someone is going to get killed. Nobody believes me when I say it, but it happened before, it will happen again.
A few years back, one of my neighbors had the same misconception. Her youngest son of ten years (he would be 42 now) used to spend his time either driving a racing snowmobile or a Honda Big Red (an enormous and then very fast all terrain vehicle) around the community. He loved speed (what ten year old doesn’t), and even though many residents warned them, his parents refused to supervise him, or even tell him to slow down. One night while he and his friend were racing in the back roads, he took an unexpected spill, smashed his head on a rock (he wore a helmet but didn’t fasten it under his chin) and died instantly. Everyone in the community was in shock (well not everyone, I knew something would eventually happen) at the tragedy, and parents then took the action to take away the motorized vehicles from their kids. That was thirty two years ago. His parents said that maybe he died so that others would learn from their mistakes. By the looks of things around here, he died for nothing. Nobody remembers this little kid nowadays.
Last week in the news, a 39 year old man was struck by an ATV. The driver was a 14 year old boy who had been riding his quad on the highway and drove right into the poor man. Despite killing someone, he will only be charged on the highway act, and possibly get a small fine, bu given the fact that he is only 14, he will probably get off without being charged. I say that if we allow our kids to drive vehicles made for adults, parents should be held responsible for any harm they cause others. Here Here!