The courthouse is no place for children. It isn’t now nor has it ever been, and we are glad Chief District Court Judge Paul A. Hardison has not only realized that fact but moved to do something about it.
Hardison recently issued an order banning children under the age of 6 from being inside courtrooms or in areas adjacent to them, a move we wholeheartedly applaud.
It is a ban whose time has certainly come, as more and more adults enter courtrooms with a baby on their hip or a toddler in tow.
The judge’s reason for the ban centers around his continued attempts to reduce noise and disruptions in the courtroom and follows a previous 2015 ban of all cell phones and similar devices from the same areas of the courthouse.
There is no questions children cause as many, if not more, disruptions during court proceedings as a dozen cell phones. Adults should understand that without being told, but in today’s society it is rare to find people willing to use their common sense to solve an easily recognizable problem.
All it takes is one visit to District Court to see why Hardison felt a ban was necessary. Many times, it seems more like a three-ring circus than a court of law, with children scampering from an adult’s lap to wander the courtroom aisle, wailing from the arms of a parent or constantly talking, despite attempts by an attending adult to quiet them.
It’s not the child’s fault. At 6 or younger, they have no idea what order in the court means nor do they understand the importance of remaining quiet during proceedings that they certainly don’t comprehend. They are children, and their actions are those one would expect from youngsters.
But adults should know better. Unfortunately, as witnessed in Sampson’s District Court on more than one occasion, they don’t. Dragging children to court seems second nature to them, allowing youngsters to be unruly and disruptive no problem. Hence Hardison’s mandate.
Granted many parents or guardians have few childcare options, but allowing them to tag along to court should have never been one in the first place. Now, with the judge’s order, it won’t be.
While the order may burden some, the positives far outweigh the negatives. Children have no business in the courtroom. Not only is it difficult for them not to be disruptive, the conversations held, testimony given and the issues discussed are not meant for young ears.
It is unfortunate that we live in a world where common sense often has to be mandated, but that’s where we are, and that’s why it is often necessary for level-headed individuals to intervene.
Hardison recognized the escalating problem and understood it was not going to take care of itself, nor were adults going to make reasonable decisions on their own, so he did what he felt was necessary.
We applaud him for doing something that might not be popular but is, by far, the right thing to do.