mrsbrown: (Default)
[personal profile] mrsbrown
Normally, I come home from Festival full of ideas and enthusiasm. This year it's mostly outrage, determination to make sure it doesn't happen again and a bit of embarrassment.

Getting what happened written down will help.

When we signed in, we weren't reminded about an ID token for Rose and I forgot. There were several announcements about them and I made a note that I should do that but never got around to it. I was keeping a close eye on happenings at the children's fort because Rose can be crap with new children and I wanted to make sure she kept playing nicely. So I was there when a camp mate quietly walked up to R and asked to see his ID tag. She walked away with a purposeful stride and came back shortly with two constables (people who I normally respect the behaviour of). They stopped the joyous playing of the children, made them form lines and checked their ID tags and the presence of their supervising adult.

A brought Rose to me and asked me to get her an ID tag, we discussed the fact that troll hadn't provided one at signin but I agreed to go and get a tag for Rose while she kept playing. A told me, "you need to nominate a supervising adult", I replied that our camp was 30m away, Rose is 8 and I would be gone for only a short time. Rose was anxious to keep doing the awesome playing she'd been doing. A repeated, "you need to nominate a supervising adult" and I told her to "Fuck Off" and walked back to camp where I told mr-bassman to go and be a good parent because I was incapable of it. Rose tells me that she was told to go back to camp.

I'm embarrassed about losing my temper, but I'm also very angry that;
1. a person I consider R's close community didn't trust his mother to appropriately supervise him - in this case by making an arrangement for him to play at the fort with a large group of children
2. That the kid's happy playing was interrupted to apply a rule intended to be used when there is wrong-doing or a genuine emergency.
3. That the stewards/constables have judged my parenting to be inadequate.
4. That the power of the constables was misused and I wasn't able to do anything about it at the time

The similarity of the situation to apartheid or nazi like identity paper checks emphasised the power imbalance and made my emotional response much stronger than it should have been.

My inclination was to take the civil disobedience approach and keep supervising Rose at the fort from afar as I would normally do. But Aste is a better person than me (and had the resources to do it) and arranged for Tree to sit with the children at the fort, while we kept checking in with them.


On Monday there were fewer children at the fort and Tree was again sitting with them. A constable and the head steward raided the fort asking for supervising adults. Tree was deemed "too young" to be supervising them, and Aste was not quite in sight from camp at that moment (although Tree says she could see Aste, the Steward couldn't and didn't believe her) The kids were sent home again. When I arrived back at camp soon after, Rose greeted me angrily with, "they did it again!" and spent 5 minutes unable to do anything with her anger. I was impressed when she finally decided to go back to the fort - staging her own sit-in.

Finally, Aste was as annoyed as me and arranged to identify the constable involved and speak to her, and then we arranged to speak to the constable in charge. He arrived with the head steward and we had a thoroughly frustrating conversation based on our interpretations of civil law and what that meant we could do with our own children vs what the SCA thought we could do. It started being more fruitful when we focused on the behaviour of the constables and agreed that it was not OK to make children cry. During our conversation there was no way that the second supervision scenario, with Tree, was acceptable, but 5 min later, at court, the Steward appeared to have changed her mind and it was OK after all.

As this is my journal I get to lay blame on some early incidents - they're a bit gossip-y but indicate a bit of a culture around this stuff.

On Thursday night a Stormholder came to my camp and described an incident in which he found 3 young teenagers walking a track between the Tavern and their camp (although he didn't bother to find that out) at night (about 7pm). He came to discuss his outrage at this behaviour and I tried to suggest that there was really no problem. I found out later that he had told off these kids to the point where one was hysterical for the rest of the night and whose parents had referred the incident to the steward and asked for clarification of the site rules. I believe that's when the Steward came up with the 14year old supervision rules and requirement that under 14years olds stay in camp or with their parents. The teenagers in this incident were 13.

Last year after Festival there was a lot of gossip about some Stormhold children who were found in a campsite on their own during the day. The campsite belonged to friends of their parents, but the child free adults in this campsite were outraged and spent a lot of time decrying the supervision of these children and the abilities of their parents. I think these discussions have led to a bit of a culture of hyper vigilence about the supervision of these children which led directly to the "dobbing" that occurred at the children's fort on Sunday. This is an issue I need to stay alert for and say something when I see or hear it.

Since Festival, the Steward has posted 5 items as evidence for why the rules changed so much this year:

These three are all related to the changes for Working with Children Checks;$FILE/b2012-025-d15-House.pdf

and the last is the SCA policies;

Using those sources, I can't find any reference to children's ages, or a definition of what "supervision" is and, following the conversations online since, I'm a bit worried that everyone is going to focus on improving the communication of the rules - because that doesn't label someone wrong, and forget to make the rules work for the freedom of children.

The rules, as written by the Steward, with the benefit of hindsight were:
"children had to be line of site(sic)  from a nominated care giver when around the site. Over 10's did not have to be tagged, under 10's did have to be tagged. Over 14's could roam during the day but not at night. Over 14's could not look after younger children. Children could go to the nearest privy themselves. "

I don't want to maintain line of sight supervision of my 8 year old, let alone my 13.5 year old! 

My rules/guidelines would be:

All children to remain within the boundary of the main campsites, unless accompanied by an adult. 
Children under 14 (I would prefer 13, but 14 seems to be OK with people) are expected to be in their campsites after 8pm/dark, unless with an adult approved by their parents.
Tagging children with identifying information, such as name, campsite and parents, is strongly encouraged and tags are available at the troll tent.
Children found wandering alone, away from the village green will be asked their business and may be asked to return to their campsites or the village green.
Children are expected to comply with the Code of Conduct for the SCA, and hurting people, theft  or damaging equipment is not OK.
Children are expected to know where to find their caregivers and caregivers are expected to provide a level of supervision suitable for their child's age and maturity.

Now can I get on with the rest of the post Festival stuff?!!

Date: 2014-04-25 07:58 am (UTC)
etfb: (Default)
From: [personal profile] etfb
So far this month it's been male privilege and adult/childfree privilege. Can we get a little racism, homophobia and able-body wankery in before the end of the month? The race is on!

Date: 2014-04-25 09:04 am (UTC)
splodgenoodles: (Default)
From: [personal profile] splodgenoodles
Aaand it was all done by adults making kids feel miserable. That sucks. And suggests rather poor people skills.

Date: 2014-04-25 09:46 am (UTC)
sjkasabi: picture of a woman in a green dress from a 13th century manuscript (Default)
From: [personal profile] sjkasabi
If the constable in question was the one I gather it is, she doesn't have children herself and may not realise what reproducing the institutional habits of her own school years can mean to youngsters and their parents these days (in terms of the lining up and checking thing). She's definitely the sort of person who tends to respond well to the quiet personal chat. If you feel that that would help you feel some resolution in that direction.

That said, while I was trying to avoid invoking Godwin's Law, there were a couple of places in that facebook discussion about tags where it was getting really really hard not to go there. My inner argument loser just so wanted to type I KNOW WHY DON'T WE MAKE ALL THE KIDS WEAR YELLOW STARS!! OH NO HITLER DID THAT SO WE SHOULD HAVE PINK ONES FOR THE GIRLS AND BLUE ONES FOR THE BOYS THEN!!! ;) Lucky I get to type it here then and get it out of my system!

Date: 2014-04-26 07:52 am (UTC)
basal_surge: (Default)
From: [personal profile] basal_surge
I refrained from commenting along the lines of 'Oh, we could number the children in a book for the constables as they arrive, and stamp the number on the inside of their wrists...'

Date: 2014-04-25 12:36 pm (UTC)
tangent_woman: (Default)
From: [personal profile] tangent_woman
I made a flow chart working through the exemptions for needing a WWC check and it turns out that very, very few people would need them. I've not been able to find any information at any of the links that supports the idea that older children can't supervise younger children or that supervision of minors needs to be as close as is being demanded.

I'm still unenlightened as to what mundane laws people are tugging their forelocks to by way of trying to shut down discussion about the completely different issue of whether constab are entitled to harass and bully (yes, I'm saying that's what it looks like) children and parents.

Date: 2014-04-25 12:56 pm (UTC)
mimdancer: (Default)
From: [personal profile] mimdancer
We got told on Saturday night the new & "exciting" rules for kids on Saturday night by a fellow Stormholder.

This had come at the end of ta day where we were separate from the girls most of the day- at the Laurel Prize Tourney then with me teaching a class and Mr Man at a meeting of linguists.

It did seem fairly excessive, as the girls knew where we were, and we knew the girls were at the Schola tent & playing at the fort. They were there when we fetched them after the classes & meeting. Very surprising since there is a push to make the SCA more family friendly to retain membership. Very restrictive for the adults and more than a little patronising for the kids.

Please pm me the details about the incident with the Stormholder & teenagers. I hadn't heard of that happening.

Date: 2014-04-26 02:47 am (UTC)
charlesnaismith: (Default)
From: [personal profile] charlesnaismith
Thinking about the rules/guidelines you have at the end of your post. I think I would cut make it even more minimal:

children under 13 to remain within the boundary of the main campsites, unless accompanied by an adult.
Children under 10ish are expected to be in their campsites after 8pm/dark, unless with an adult approved by their parents.
Children are expected to comply with the Code of Conduct for the SCA, and hurting people, theft or damaging equipment is not OK.
Children are expected to know where to find their caregivers and caregivers are expected to provide a level of supervision suitable for their child's age and maturity.

I am not even sure that the top two rules should be there - I think that the age at which children can be more independent in those ways should be up to the children and their parents. The rules at festival should be focused on the natural rights of all attendees; if adults have a problem with anyone unwelcome in their campsites they should feel empowered to ask that person to leave and if they don't comply to escalate via constab and/or the person's parents.

If children are unable to manage their behaviour with whatever level of supervision they have been given then the stewards/constab should hold the parents responsible i.e. the parents should increase their level of supervision.


Date: 2014-04-26 04:34 pm (UTC)
pheloniusfriar: (Default)
From: [personal profile] pheloniusfriar
Sadly, all the comments made by [personal profile] etfb, [personal profile] sjkasabi, and [personal profile] basal_surge are highly negative and inflammatory and reflect my own opinion of what I just read perfectly ;). As for the people who came up with and enforced those policies at the festival: what a bunch of dunderheads. At best seriously misguided, at worst inflicting patriarchal and autocratic evil on those who can't defend themselves. They seem to have forgotten that festivals are about the attendees, not those running it (who, hopefully, have fun themselves and derive personal fulfillment from a well run event and attendees that had fun... I've run a large events, fyi). A good reality check would be to compare the burdens placed on children at other large events in the area (I am thinking public fairgrounds or other commercial endeavours that need liability insurance and stuff, but I don't know what is around where the festival happened).

First and foremost, some children (regardless of age) always need a lot of supervision and some need almost none most of the time, and the only people who can make that call are their parents. There is no "one size fits all" for kids, and expecting something like that to work is just indication of poor management and social skills on the part of the organizers (or overwhelming fear of liability... or maybe even some past trauma where they were undersupervised as kids themselves). With that said, I know parents that are way too restrictive with their kids (too much supervision) and others that are way too lax (they don't seem to realize how much havoc their children are always causing). Having a general attitude of "someone needs to be around to make sure the kids are playing in a functional manner" and sharing the responsibility among those with kids (and trusted helpers) at the event is the way communities are built. Those who go too far or refuse to pull their weight should be talked to, and if that doesn't work, then specific restrictions should be placed on them by the festival officials or they should be refunded and asked to leave and not return until they are willing to have a constructive discussion. To raise a child to be a functioning adult, they need to be able to learn how to engage in socially complex situations without mommy and daddy hovering over their shoulders every moment (as required by the festival rules apparently). Clever folk would be able to provide a structure for kids to ensure their general safety from predators or bullying by other kids (who are predators of another sort I guess), and be sure that all kids knew the behaviour that was expected of them, the consequences for not behaving, and who to go to if there is a problem and no other suitable adult is around. Give kids some responsibility for taking care of themselves (in an age and ability appropriate manner, of course) and everyone benefits... take that responsibility away and they will always expect someone to be watching out for them every minute of every day and will wonder why, when they are 25, that nobody is there to sort out every social problem they encounter.
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