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Museum Says Member Cards Not Safe for Kids

679px-museumofsciencebostonaugust2005A reader on ChildWild pointed out this week that Boston’s Museum of Science has a policy against letting kids have their own memberships, due to security concerns.

“Security concerns”? Whose security are they concerned about?

Is this another case of Stranger Danger paranoia, or are they worried that someone might pose as my kindergartner to sneak into the bumblebee dress-up corner?

Here’s the policy:

Can I put more names than just my own on a membership?
You can name up to 2 adults who reside in the same household on a membership. We do not put children’s names on membership cards for security reasons (in case the card gets lost or stolen). Adults living at separate addresses cannot be named on a single membership.

I have to assume its the looming shadow of Stranger Danger that has the Museum spooked. I’m disappointed by this. The Science Museum is a world-class museum, and a large part of their mission is to encourage exploration, curiosity and independence in their young visitors. I’d have thought they’d be above fear-mongering restrictions on children.

My five-year-old has a library card, which trust me she has left unattended on the floor of every library in the Greater Boston Area. It’s her prize possession, her little plastic proof that she can write her own name and check out books. Just like Mommy.

I don’t particularly need her to have her own Museum membership card, but I also can’t imagine how a museum membership could pose a threat to her. I have my own Museum of Science membership card in my hand. It has my name and street address on it. That’s it. No photo ID, no information about how old I am. I’m not seeing any case where the loss of this card could pose a special threat to my child, even if the person who found it was a total creep.

My commenter was distressed because of the pickle this policy puts him in as a divorced parent: his kids want to go to the museum; he and his ex-wife don’t want to buy two memberships. It turns out the museum folks have an unwritten policy that allows caregivers to bring children from member households, even if the adult whose name is on the card isn’t present. Fine.

That doesn’t explain what “security concerns” they have about their cards. Do they cause paper cuts? Or maybe they pose a choking hazard if eaten?

What do you think? Is this policy a reasonable precaution or institutionalized helicopter parenting?

Photo: Wikipedia

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