Should Starfleet allow children on board the Enterprise?
Fall is here and many children are making their way to physical and virtual classrooms. You suddenly receive your orders from Starfleet, you have been assigned a deep space science mission for the next three years! But don’t worry, you can bring your kids with you! It’ll be fun!
I don’t think this is a deal many parents would opt for.
Should there be children on the Enterprise? Captain Picard of Star Trek: The Next Generation, although not a fan of children himself, always seems to defend the placement of entire families on board the Enterprise. This decision has led to even greater disasters as children are orphaned galaxies away from their home planets, abducted by aliens, and subjected to attacks that must leave whole sections of the Enterprise screaming. Picard defends this on multiple occasions, saying our families make us stronger, that, as humans, we uphold family and depend on those connections to get us through our greatest struggles. (Big words from a man who gave up family to pursue his career but no judgment.)
I am not sure this is a good enough reason. I have no doubt that family is important and no matter what shape your family may take, they are a great asset, able to emotionally support you and assist in times of need. But to literally fling children light-years away from Earth into the great unknown seems ludicrous to me. Children like Wesley Crusher who turn out to be prodigies and become integral members of the crew I am sure are few and far between.
Now the argument could be made that this is similar to military placements. Your family may move with you to a new base even if that base is overseas. Though I think superior officers may frown upon having your ride along as you drive your tank through a combat zone. It makes me think of stories about British military families in the 1800s who would move their whole family to Africa or India and that would become a part of their children’s identity. It allowed the family to stay together. The children got to experience new cultures. But again, the children were not typically in harm’s way.
I believe Starfleet needs to rethink its policy of allowing children on board a starship, especially for deep space exploration. If we are to boldly go where no one has gone before, then perhaps we shouldn’t send the kids in first.