In between traffic and weather reports this morning my exercise routine was interrupted by the news story about a boy who directed air traffic at New York’s JFK airport on February 17th. An air traffic controller brought his son to work, and allowed him to direct a few pilots. At one point in the recording the controller can be heard saying, “That’s what you get guys when the kids are out of school.” Air traffic control conversations are readily available; you can listen live on www.liveatc.net, this one even made it to YouTube in the form of an audio with a graphic that includes a map of JFK. The FAA is not happy, the controller and supervisor have been suspended.
The Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Foundation is promoting April 22nd as a great way to expose children, ages 8-18, to the workplace. They have lots of suggestions for activities that involve employers, educators, parents and mentors in creating a positive experience. Kids can certainly contribute in meaningful ways, creating a dangerous situation is not one of them. I have seen 12 year olds research, file, help clean and spend time soaking in the nuances of business. The well orchestrated experience provides valuable information for the kids while parents and employers get to show off.
Parents occasionally seek to take a child to work as a fall back when school is out or a minor illness keeps them home. Neither situation should be encouraged. It’s a recipe for distraction, mistakes and unsafe conditions. Visits are nice, tours are a bonus but kids don’t belong in the workplace outside of special events designed to accommodate their presence.