Should Kids Be Banned From Restaurants?

13/03/2011 16:22 | Updated 22 May 2015

Should kids be banned from restaurants?One restaurant in North Carolina, USA, has taken a stand against badly behaved children with its owner sticking a sign in the front window claiming 'screaming children will not be tolerated'.

The owner of 'Olde Salty's'; Brenda Armes, defends her actions saying she's sick of hearing customers complain about being put off their meals by screaming children and felt her restaurant was rapidly turning into the local playground; hence the reason for her drastic action which she says is bringing in more customers than it's keeping away.

Closer to home in a small Hertfordshire village my family and I were turned away from a local farm shop café after it introduced a ban on children under the age of eight; a policy even flagged up on the local tourist board website.

So are these isolated incidents or are we moving away from 'family friendly' dining to a more draconian 'children should be seen and not heard' approach when dining out?

Mum of two and parenting author Joanna Simmons ('The Aargh to Zzzz of Parenting') remembers suffering a humiliating experience when trying to eat out with her children at a café in Hampshire.

'They basically didn't want kids in there but couldn't bring themselves to say so; so instead they had a card on each table with a great long list of 'rules' about how children must behave'.

While Joanna says her own children; aged three and five, were well behaved, she was made to feel uncomfortable throughout their lunch; and only chose to stay, as being a small town, 'we didn't have a lot of choice when it came to finding somewhere for a quick snack'.

But it's not just 'young' children who can get banned when it comes to eating out. When Terri Dowty and her 15-year-old son tried to order a sandwich sitting in the garden of a country pub, 'they refused to serve us saying their customers didn't want to put up with 'noisy' children!' Terri admits she was fuming; 'my son was 15 and very quiet; they were happy to turn us away; yet seemed to turn a blind eye to a group of rowdy lads sitting at the next table'.

While there are plenty of 'family friendly' restaurants out there offering kids' menus and activity packs; in most cases they're part of big chain outlets so if you step beyond these do you risk taking a chance?

While discrimination laws mean businesses can't get away with banning people because of their race or due to any disability; it's not the same situation when it comes to childrens' rights. 'The Equality Act 2010 only extends age discrimination protection to those over 18', says Carla Garnelas, from the Children's Rights Alliance For England, which means there's really nothing to stop places like cafes, restaurants and tea rooms banning children from their premises or displaying notices like those occasionally seen in newsagents stating 'only two schoolchildren allowed in at any one time'.

On the flip side; let's face it even if our own children are well behaved; we've all witnessed examples of badly behaved kids in public places; and if you've paid for a babysitter for the kids or just don't have your own, it's easy to feel resentful if a meal out is spoilt by someone else's bad behaviour.

But while it's easy to point the finger at children for being the culprits when it comes to causing disruption in restaurants is this always the case? I've been in plenty of places where it's actually other adults who've been the source of the 'disturbance' factor. Yes they're the ones shouting into their mobile at full volume throughout their lunch or peppering their conversation with swear words while seeming totally oblivious to anyone else.

So maybe it's time we were all a bit more respectful of our fellow diners?

What do you think? Should children be banned from eating out?

Or should we be encouraging them to be respectful of fellow diners and adults to be more understanding of children?

Suggest a correction