I'm typically one of those people who keep my nose out of other people's business. It's usually my wife who is known for going into a store and looking for the person who left his or her dog locked in a hot car, not me. I do have my breaking point, though.
While covering the Taste of Pinellas concert at Vinoy Park this past weekend, I observed one of the most disgusting examples of bad parenting I've ever seen. Something that could not go unnoticed or commented on, because it was so unbelievably stupid. Let me explain...
I was standing in front of the stage, waiting for Martina McBride to start. For some reason, the media had been kicked out of the photo pit for McBride's set, which left us standing behind the barriers for the VIP seating area. Near the end of Lonestar's set, a young couple made their way into the VIP area, pushing a stroller with two small children and another one following on foot. Although I was extremely annoyed that anyone would expose small children to such loud music, it's a sight that I see all too frequently. What I don't usually see is the parents parking their stroller directly in front of the main speaker bank. They settled in by taking chairs from the VIP area and plopping down only six feet from the loudspeakers.
I have a decibel meter app on my phone, which I used to gauge the level of sound in this area. The music was pumping out of the speakers at a constant 123 db, with spikes peaking around 140 db.
As a point of reference:
* The level at which sustained exposure may result in hearing loss is about 90db
* Inner ear pain begins at about 125 db
* Even short term exposure to sound of 140 db can cause permanent damage. This level is also the loudest recommended exposure level anyone should experience WITH hearing protection.
Although I'm not certain, I'm pretty sure these guidelines are for adults, not small children with developing eardrums.
I felt extremely sorry for these small children, who could only stay where their parents put them and cover their ears. It's my hope that people see this and reconsider taking their children to loud rock concerts. If you do insist on exposing your children to such risks, at least purchase some earplugs. Even those of us who are used to the level of rock concerts wear earplugs.