Moral Panics

Fear of perverts in aircraft


Moral Panics Index



Airlines ban men from sitting next to unaccompanied children                  - Index

At the end of November 2005, the media reported an incident in which a man was told that he had to be moved from his seat in an aircraft because he was sitting next to an unaccompanied child. Both Air New Zealand and Qantas have a policy in which men cannot sit next to unaccompanied children for "safety" reasons.   The response was immediate and huge, with the vast majority of concerned people damning the policy

                        Links to News reports of the Issue

                                    News Reports 1 -  Nov 29-30 2005

                                    News Reports 2 -  Dec 01-03 2005

                                    News Reports 3 -  Dec 04-31 2005

                                    News Reports 4 -  2006

Critics of the policy
Celia Lashlie Wayne Mapp Keth Locke Norm Hewitt Stuart Birks Michael Irwin
Critics of Airline Policy:  Celia Lashlie, Wayne Mapp, Keth Locke, Norm Hewitt, Stuart Birks and Michael Irwin


Celia Lashlie (Campaigner for the importance of men):  Men should debate whether they are content to accept the slur

Jane McDonald (Doctors for Sex Abuse Care): Policy goes too far and indicates a degree of societal paranoia.

Norm Hewitt: (ex All Black):  Likens the distrust of men to the segregation of back Americans in the 1950s. It is time for men to follow Rosa Parks' lead  (Who refused to move on a segregated Alabama bus in 1955)

Roger Estall (Risk Management Society): The airlines should weigh up three competing risks before they set such a policy - the risk of a child being assaulted, the risk of children developing an unwarranted belief that men are all bad, and the risk of the child having a positive experience.

Nigel Latta (Clinical Psychologist): Airlines' policy is insane and offensive

Hans Laven (Clinical Psychologist): The policy provides children with an image that men are to be feared and have no value.

Dr Mapp (National MP): Breaches the fundamental principles or our democracy and the Human Rights Act.

Keith Locke (Green MP): Breaches the Human Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex

Mike Yardley (Radio Host): Reeks of moral panic

Kelvin Squire (Stratford School Principal): Ultimately the children suffer at a time when children need male role models more than ever.

Richard Aston, chief executive of Big Buddy: Such decisions are creating a world which segregates men from children.

Stuart Birks (Director of the Centre for Public Policy evaluation, Massey): Clear case of discrimination with no obvious rational basis

Michael Irwin (College of Education, former Principal) Harmful not just to men, but also to children - Is a signal to children not to trust any man

Other comments - Inconsistent and anti male: Teenagers, parents and women have all been guilty of abuse, but the policy only singles out men.

Other comments - No proven problem:  psychologists dealing with sex abuse have neber heard of abuse on a plane; There is no evidence for such a policy

Other comments - Harmful to men, children and Society: Demonises men; Sends a message that men cannot be trusted; that men are uncaring and that every man is a potential pedophile. Leads to anti male sentiment, hysteria about child abuse.

Defending the policy
Qantas and
Air New Zealand Cindy Kiro Neville Robertson
Defend Airline Policy:  Cindy Kiro, Neville Robertson

Airline spokespersons: In line with international best practice; designed to maximize child safety; It's what parents want"

Cindy Kiro (Commissioner for Children): Commends airline for putting thought into policies and keeping children safe

Neville Robertson (Waikato University Psychologist): Men's rights have not been infringed

Other comments: Prevention is better than cure; Keeps children safe.