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Parenting Positive Kids Parenting Positive Kids

Parents Defend Letting Daughter, 5, Swim With Sharks

What do you think?


When Elana and David Barnes posted a home video to YouTube of their 5-year-old daughter swimming in the ocean, they intended to share their vacation memories with friends and family, not the world.

But the video quickly became a viral sensation because it shows their daughter, Anaia, not just frolicking in the water but snorkeling with sharks in the waters off the Bahamas.

“Life is too short to be boring,” Elana Barnes told “Good Morning America” of why she and her husband let their daughter swim with the nurse, lemon and Caribbean reef sharks.

The video of Anaia in the water has proven to be anything but boring, provoking a fiery debate online about whether the Ridgefield, Conn., parents were irresponsible in placing their daughter in a potentially dangerous situation.

“When you are an adult, you are allowed to be as reckless as you want to be,” said Ericka Souter, editor of the The Stir on the Café Mom parenting website. “But as parents, it is our job to protect our kids from reckless and dangerous behavior.”

The Barnes say they researched the risks and decided it was worth it to nurture an adventurous spirit in their daughter. The sharks with which Anaia swam are said by animal experts to be rarely aggressive and she was with an instructor the entire time.

“There’s just always risk assessments in life every day,” David Barnes told “GMA.” “I’m more concerned that they don’t put seatbelts in school buses.”


by on Jul. 6, 2012 at 8:36 AM
Replies (31-40):
by on Jul. 8, 2012 at 11:59 AM big deal. Don't know why people are making such a fuss over's no one's business. Go judge yourself instead of other people...

by on Jul. 8, 2012 at 12:08 PM
Quoting IAMmomtotrips:

I think it's being blown out of portion. The sharks she was snorkeling with we're nurse sharks and are less agressive than dolphins!

She was in a more controlled environment than when the average person swims at the beach!

I took all three of my five year olds snorkeling this summer and when we dropped anchor to begin our swim a 7 ft bull shark swam right under the boat! And that did not stop us from snorkeling and he didn't go out of our area...he just stayed away from us. We also found 5 sting rays. It was a great trip!

I agree! That trip sounds cool!
by on Jul. 8, 2012 at 12:17 PM

Quoting Delirium003:

I think it's cool she had a chance to do that. And she was with someone that could get her the heck out of there if thugs got sticky.

ETA: lol, my phone autocorrected "things" to "thugs".

by on Jul. 8, 2012 at 12:18 PM

1 word, WOAH!

by on Jul. 8, 2012 at 12:21 PM
1 mom liked this

I definitely don't see the big deal. Maybe I'm a careless parent as well. LOL

by on Jul. 8, 2012 at 12:28 PM
Quoting LuvingRN:

 I think it was definitely blown out of proportion.  I would let my kids do it.

pregnancy calendar
by on Jul. 8, 2012 at 12:30 PM

I think that sounds amazing and I bet she had a blast!

They were in a control enviroment unlike going to the beach where you don't what will happen. My best friend wa stung by a jelly fish and she is not afraid of going into the water at the beach, I had to beg her and told if she got stung again that she kick me real hard... It was help her to get over her fear, she still afraid but she got into the water with me, had some fun.. (:

by on Jul. 8, 2012 at 12:48 PM

Talk about over sensationalized. What an experience, one I would consider for my own shark fan. If this is endangering a child then so leading them across the road. 

by on Jul. 8, 2012 at 1:44 PM

if the kid wasn't hurt who cares? id be more concerned if she was swimming with more aggressive sharks

by on Jul. 8, 2012 at 1:51 PM

I think you're a fucking moron if you believe there was something wrong with that. Those mutts you have living with your children can be more dangerous. Controlling and snobby ass fucking idiots is all it is.

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