We Need to Stop Rewarding Dangerous Behaviour With Attention

I’ve dropped my wiggly toddler walking through the living room. Just saying.

What do you do with your toddlers for fun? The park? Maybe the movies? Indoor playground?

If you’re Redha Rozlan, you take your kid bungee jumping. On a video shared on Instagram, Rozlan stands at the edge of a bridge, harnessed and wearing a helmet, cradling his two-year-old daughter as she clutches him tightly around his neck. She is not wearing a helmet and does not appear to be wearing a harness. A short count of three, and they both disappear off the bridge, falling to the depths below before bouncing up.

Anyone else WTFing pretty hard right now? I mean, at two, I’m pretty sure I was still catching my kids at the bottom of the slide, and this dude is jumping off a bridge with his kid, held to him only by his bare arms?

Rozlan claims she was wearing the proper safety gear; but she is clearly not wearing a helmet, and if she has a harness, she must have borrowed it from Wonder Woman, because it seems to be invisible.

I’ve dropped my wiggly toddler walking through the living room. Just saying.

Even if she was harnessed to the gills, there is a reason that young children are not permitted to hurl themselves off bridges. The force of the snap back could have seriously injured her neck. We rear-face children that young in car seats because their necks can’t handle the same force that older children and adults can.

And let’s discuss the psychology of this. “Okay, sweetheart, hold onto Daddy. Nothing bad can happen. We’re just going to fall off this bridge, no biggie.” Rozlan says his daughter did it voluntarily and without coercion. Really? I’ve seen a two-year-old ask for an orange then cry because they got an orange, but we’re okay with trusting their ability to make an educated decision about jumping into an abyss?

If I allowed my two-year-old to do things he wanted to do simply because he wasn’t coerced into it, well, he wouldn’t have made it to three. “She wanted to do it” is never ever a valid excuse to compromise a child’s safety.

Rozlan is a reality star. Are you shocked? I didn’t think so. We have been rewarding destructive behaviour with attention for a while now. The stunts need to become bigger to catch people’s eyes. Sure, he let his toddler drop 60 metres unsecured, but how many likes did he get?

Doing stupid things for attention is not new. Ever watch your second-grade classmate eat a bug at recess? That was our YouTube. Teenagers have engaged in risky behaviour to look “cool” since the dawn of time. Even Fonzie jumped over a shark on his motorcycle. The only difference now is that instead of a few playground oohs and ahhs, these kids are trying to become famous for it.

But involving your children is entirely different. Ignoring the fact that, unlike children and teenagers, adult brains are fully formed, a parent’s most important job is to do everything in their power to keep their child safe. Engaging in risky behaviour for the sake internet attention is abusive. Rozlan should be charged with child endangerment (as should the company who supervised the jump) and he should lose custody of his child.

This was not debatable, like allowing a three-year-old to skateboard with proper gear on. The man jumped off a bridge holding his baby. And when confronted with criticism for doing so, responded, “Chill, guys. Don’t try this with your kids if your kids [are] not ready for this.” I’m sorry, what? Are any kids ready to jump off a bridge unrestrained? Are any two-year-olds ready to plummet 60 metres under any circumstances? That Rozlan not only did this, but has no idea why it was inappropriate, shows his incompetence as a father and guardian of that child’s well-being.

Putting children in harm’s way in front of an audience is not limited to stupidly dangerous daredevil stunts. In September of 2017, Heather and Mike Martin were sentenced to five years’ probation for child neglect, and temporarily lost custody of their children. They had “pranked” their children on YouTube.

Pranking children is a popular YouTube past time, but when does it cross the line? When Jimmy Kimmel encourages parents to tell their children that they ate all of their Halloween candy, and film their reactions for the world to see, is that abusive? I think it is, but I know many who think it is hilarious.

In the Martins’ case, they blamed their children for things they didn’t do, screamed obscenities at them until they cried, and broke their toys, then laughed at them and told them they had been “owned.” It was pretty clear-cut. There is nothing funny about emotionally abusing children.

Yes, sometimes there is a grey area. Most of us have allowed our babies to try a pickle just to see the scrunched face reaction. And we love seeing those videos. But sour pickles are a far cry from bridge jumping.

The bottom line is, children’s safety is more important than internet fandom. Before making that potentially viral video, ask yourself: Why am I doing this? If you’re doing it as a fun activity with your child, one in which you are both having fun and no one is in danger physically or emotionally, and you would do it even if you weren’t filming it, great. Have at ‘er.

If you are doing it for your own gain, at the expense of your child’s well-being, stop immediately and evaluate your priorities.

It’s time to update that old adage: If all the reality stars jumped off a bridge, would you?




RELATED: Do You Follow All These Child Safety Tips?



Heather M. Jones is a mom of 2 from Toronto. When not writing, she can be found reading, worrying, and spending way too much time on Facebook.