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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 (41-50):
by on Jul. 8, 2012 at 2:11 PM
1 mom liked this

 I don't think they are terrible parents but I would not have made the same call.

by on Jul. 8, 2012 at 2:21 PM
1 mom liked this

I think its reckless because you are putting your daughter in an uncontrolled environment, no matter how controlled it appears.  There are plenty of fun experiences for a 5 year old, this one should have been put off until she is able to make that decision on her own as an adult.

by on Jul. 8, 2012 at 2:32 PM
2 moms liked this

Completely blown out of proportion, but the comment about seatbelts on school buses smh... it's been shown to be MORE dangerous. In the event of an emergency, the bus driver would have to unbuckle 30 plus kids. 

by on Jul. 8, 2012 at 2:53 PM
1 mom liked this

I think they ppl are making to big a deal out of how others parent. Each person parents differently. There is no one standard to parenting. These days everything is "Dangerous" to our children. I remember being allowed to be out all day till the street light came on. Or Being 5 and taking long road trips sleeping in the back seat of the car no Booster seat. Honestly everything these days someone has an issue with.

by on Jul. 8, 2012 at 3:18 PM

I wouldnt do it but im just scared of sharks there wild animals so theres no telling what can happen, but i wouldnt say theyn were reckless either they felt comfortable with the situation

to each there own

by on Jul. 8, 2012 at 3:23 PM

I don't see what the fuss was over. That is super cool and my kids would love to get to do that. They shouldn't even have to defend it. 

by on Jul. 8, 2012 at 3:27 PM
1 mom liked this

Considering the types of sharks, this is a media frenzy for no reason.  People hear "shark" and think "Jaws."  The reality is, there are many types of shark that are completely passive, or even INCAPABLE of biting a human.

Yes, there is some risk.  But with those types of sharks, the risk is the same or less than riding a roller coaster.

I have gone swimming with these same sharks when I was young.

by on Jul. 8, 2012 at 3:33 PM
1 mom liked this

of course you gonna share a video with the world if you post it on youtube!

by on Jul. 8, 2012 at 3:54 PM
1 mom liked this

honestly-I"m jealous  :-P

I'm glad she got the chance-some ppl just bitch to complain about anything

by on Jul. 8, 2012 at 3:57 PM

I don't really think its a huge deal. They did the research, they knew the risks, its not like they were swimming with a 20 ft great white. There are plenty of sharks that wouldn't bother anyone. Its the shark term that scares people.

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