Juggler’s remark not suitable for children

I find it irritating that OTW officials sanctimoniously won’t allow single adults to enter that area known as the Kids’ Kastle during the On the Waterfront festival unless accompanied by a child. As is the case with many single adults, I have a legitimate professional interest in children’s activities and would like an opportunity to see what’s new in the way of those activities and what works well with children where such activities are concerned, and I find it especially irritating, and hypocritical even, when OTW goes on to stage what amounts to a child-abusing spectacle in the middle of the street a short distance from the Kids’ Kastle that any passerby can pause and watch.

I’m speaking of the juggler whose act includes calling on a young boy and girl to assist him in his juggling routine. After getting a boy and girl to step forward from the crowd and stand together, “as if you’re getting married,” he first announces, then quickly admonishes himself, “No, we’re not going to marry you,” he loudly asserts, “We’re not in Arkansas!”

I’ve seen the bewildered expressions on the faces of the children standing together as they look around at the guffaws and laughter this remark invokes from adults watching; the implications of the juggler’s crudity by expressing himself in such a way, children at that age could not be expected to comprehend. And yes! I believe such a remark constitutes child abuse of a sexual nature given the wording of state statute regarding the exposure of children to sexually-themed images. Such images don’t have to be sexually explicit, merely sexually themed, and the juggler’s remark fits that category.

The remark is inappropriate in other ways, as none other than On the Waterfront CEO Becky Genoways agreed when a few years ago I brought the matter to her attention while working as an OTW volunteer. I asked her to consider how the juggler’s observation would sound if some other geographical region of the world were used instead, and she fully agreed it would be inappropriate and promised it would not happen again. But there it was happening all over again at this year’s festival. When I was turned away a couple of years ago from attempting to enter the Kids’ Kastle, the guardian at the gate quipped, “Go get a child, and then you can come in.” Having worked as an On the Waterfront volunteer, I know from personal experience there are a lot of lost children milling around at the festival, so it wouldn’t be difficult to find a child, pass an unquestioning volunteer, and gain admittance to the children’s area.

Tim Hughes

From the Oct. 24-30, 2012, issue

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