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Should you give up your seat to a child on the Tube? An etiquette expert has spoken

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Dave Fawbert
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Stand back guys, because this is about to get messy.

Etiquette experts Debrett’s have waded into a debate that’s raged since the first Tube train rolled along the tracks in London back in 1863 – should you, an adult, give up your precious, hard-won seat to a child, or not?

And they have decided: no – unless the child is very young, feeling unwell, is “physically impaired” and, possibly, if the tube carriage is crowded or intimidating. They also say that if a parent is carrying a baby or infant, then he or she should be offered a seat.

Now, on the face of it, this seems conclusive – the ‘no’ bit right at the start – but, on the other hand, the tube is always crowded and intimidating, so maybe that’s actually a ‘yes’?

We’re definitely down with the baby/infant part – that sounds entirely reasonable. But at what age should a child be expected to stand for themselves?

Those in the ‘adult priority’ camp suggest that kids have plenty of energy and should defer to their more aged travelling companions.

And those in the ‘child priority’ camp suggest that it’s safer for kids to sit and that a child has every much right, as a fee-paying passenger, to sit as anyone else.

Unsurprisingly, there are a multitude of threads on Mumsnet about the topic, with some very strong opinions like this:

Or this:

A Mumsnet spokeswoman told the Evening Standard: “There isn't a consensus on Mumsnet about whether older children should always give up their seats for fit, able-bodied adults. Some feel strongly they should, while others feel that it's tantamount to treating children as second-class citizens, and is fundamentally unfair.

“There's more agreement that very small children should sit if they can't safely stand, although on a crowded bus it makes most sense to just plonk them on your lap. The many conversations on Mumsnet about pregnant women struggling to get seats on public transport suggest that plenty of adults could do with some advice from Debrett's as well.”

One thing we can all agree on? You need to give up your seat for a pregnant lady or a disabled person.

Oh, and me too, when I’m a bit tired. Thanks in advance.

(Image: iStock)

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Dave Fawbert

ShortList.com staff writer Dave’s primary passions are pop, prose, punning and power ballads (and alliteration). A lower division football enthusiast and long-suffering cricket fan, he is one of only 110 people followed on Twitter by Chas Hodges from Chas ‘n’ Dave. Follow Dave on Twitter like Chas: @davefawbert

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