Kid Nation, a reality television series on CBS, will premiere Wednesday. The show has been the center of controversy for employing 40 children between the ages of eight and 15. These children had to fend for themselves for 40 days in a remote location in New Mexico. Kids had to learn to cook, clean, manage and live together with other children who were previously complete strangers. The creation of this show and the likelihood that it will be watched by millions of Americans is a sad reality that deserves spirited ridicule.
The premise of the show is precisely the problem: Forty kids left alone without adult supervision or their parents present. The producer of the show argues that he, cameramen, medics and a child psychologist were always on call, but the motives of these individuals deserves to be question-especially when all of them were hired by a producer seeking only to film a show and not first concerned but the safety of all the children. And injuries reportedly did occur during the filming of the show. A girl allegedly suffered burns on her face from cooking grease and other kids allegedly had to be treated for drinking bleach out of an unmarked soda bottle. These injuries occurred because the kids were left unsupervised. How anyone could conceive of this idea and consider it to be entertaining and fun to watch is a sad testament to how far American pop culture and media has come in accepting outlandish behavior for the sake of good ratings.
And CBS is an accomplice in all of this by providing broadcast rights to a show that is tantamount to the exploitation of both children and parents. The parents of these children signed a contract with CBS that forbids them from talking to the media while the kids only received $5,000 for their 40-day experience-hardly enough money for college or future endeavors. While the producer argues larger bonuses were available, not all children received them and it is not even clear that parents were made aware of the extra cash prizes.
But even if the money earned by the children on Kid Nation was significant, it would not outweigh the potential physical and emotional risks posed by being on the show. Kids in that age group are emotionally vulnerable individuals-not at all sure how they fit in the world and certainly not comfortable in their own skin. It is encouraging to see that New Mexico is in the midst of investigating the show for the possible breach of child labor laws and public scrutiny is increasing with the premiere of the showing coming in a matter of days. Americans across the country should refuse to watch the show and tune in to entertainment that did place the safety of those cast in real danger. The Lord of Flies reminded society that children cannot function properly by themselves and filming a situation very similar to that book, as the producer concedes it , is simply unacceptable.