However, nothing can compensate for the breach of procedure here. USA rules state that (among other things), there are several identification requirements for the child as well as for adults meeting them at the destination. It therefore baffles everyone, that those supposed to be responsible for supervising the children could even mix up a little boy and a little girl!
Well-Being Australia chairman Mark Tronson has on many occasions sent his unaccompanied children, when younger, on flights to visit their grandparents. It is quite common within Australia where families do not live near relatives. Also, there is a coterie of children who fly to other cities to visit divorced parents each and every school holidays.
The situation is well documented and known to the air carriers. The paper work is thorough, and if there is someone meeting the children between connecting flights, they also have to be certified by the airline in order to collect the children.
The processes are becoming better documented, but also more complicated for the parents. It is also demeaning as the children become teenagers, to feel they are treated like kindergarten children! However, it is probably worth while going through this extra inconvenience to ensure the security of our children and not have the situation from the USA (illustrated above) happening here.
The situation reminded M V Tronson of the WWII newsreels from England, depicting how 2 million children were evacuated from London to the countryside to avoid the London Blitz. The children were billeted with other families for some considerable time.
He noticed that each child had a large name tag attached to their clothes with a large safety pin. The name tags were large, sure enough, and although they were made of the sturdy cardboard of the time, it would not have been unreasonable to assume that with the hustle and bustle of children on buses and trains, that some would have been dislodged.
He wonders, even today, what steps were taken to doubly ensure that the child knew their name, knew how to spell it, where they came from and the name of their parents. The Government at the time called the whole affair a 'resounding success'.
There have been other less heralded mass evacuations of children. The Children's Crusade of 1212 was one such disaster, as is taught in seminaries as part of the mediaeval Christian history course.
This story tells of Stephen of Cloyes, a young charismatic lad, who coerced children from all over Europe to follow him to relieve Jerusalem and the Holy Land from the Muslims. He was convinced that, whereas military might had failed, children with simple faith would succeed. Stephen told them that when they arrived at the Mediterranean sea it would divide as the Red Sea did for Moses.
Moreover the Pope gave his blessing to it. Of course, this did not occur. It robbed Europe of a generation of its children; and many see in this, the origin of the nursery rhyme of the Pied Piper.
The welfare of our children is our greatest responsibility. The nation needs to take that responsibility seriously, and this trickles down to every State authority, to our local Shire Councils, to our schools, and to each and every parent. Everyone is responsible.
At a recent Country Town Tour mission in Albany Western Australia, on finding that one of the men was a school bus driver, Mark Tronson congratulated him on taking on one of the most responsible and important roles in the nation, ensuring the safety of the next generation.