To the editor:
Over the last two days I have been interested to read of the events which took place at the aquatic center, and the subsequent responses to those events. The Journal-World's editorial response was right on target, but did not go quite far enough.
I was shocked that the parents of two 13-year-old children would send them to a public place unsupervised, and not have any way for the children to contact them in the event of an emergency (which their expulsion from the aquatic center seems to have been). I teach at a high school in Topeka. And I can assure you that if a group of 15 students were simply hanging out talking after an activity, I would send them home, too. It would not matter whether I knew the students, how well I knew them, or even whether they were behaving themselves.
Ask someone who owns or manages a business whether they would allow a group of 13-15-year-olds to remain on the premises for that length of time. Allowing a large group of young people to "hang out" unsupervised in a facility which has already been victimized by thieves is a bad idea. And when Mr. Hepford ordered those children out, he was doing exactly as he should have done. He expected their parents to be responsible enough to pick them up in a timely fashion.
At what point should parents accept responsibility for leaving their children unattended? Why have we not heard any outcry that parents forced their children to wait in a city park at night while they enjoyed an evening at the theater? I can assure you that when my daughter is 13, I will not leave her at the pool until 10 p.m. on a chilly night without some way to contact me.