Is Las Vegas a Good Place to Raise Kids?
Would You Really Want to Raise Your Kids in "Sin City"?
After living in Las Vegas for almost seven years, one statement keeps coming up when my husband and I are talking: I'm so glad we aren't raising kids here!
We moved here nearly seven years ago for a job. My husband had worked for an airline in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. When that airline, Midwest Express (later renamed Midwest Airlines) went out of business, the employees were out of jobs in the midst of a recession. After being out of work for eight months, suddenly a job came up that seemed like a good opportunity.
This job was, out of all the places it could have been, in Las Vegas. We had only been here a couple of times before. One time was actually with our two sons. I don't remember exactly how old they were, but they were young teens at the time. We had come here for a show at the Las Vegas Hilton, which is now called Westgate.
At their age, they were not actually allowed to walk through the gaming machine area of the casino. They had to stay on designated pathways. During the day, we did things that were child and teen friendly, since Vegas at the time was trying to update their image as a child friendly place. We went to see the Fountains of Bellagio, the outdoor pirate show that was running at the time at Treasure Island, and the volcano show at Mirage.
For two nights, we went to a concert and they stayed in the room, which they didn't mind. Downstairs was a small Pizza Hut restaurant and an adjacent ice cream shop, so they went there and then later back to the room. The show only lasted a couple hours, and since they were very trustworthy teenagers, it worked out.
A Few Reasons Las Vegas is not a Good Place to Raise Kids
Las Vegas is a city known for its carefree "anything goes" attitude. Driving down the strip yesterday, we were absolutely gob-smacked by something we saw. A man wearing pajama bottom pants and a t-shirt pulled his pants down and squatted - on the grass along the Las Vegas strip - and went to the bathroom. In public, right off the sidewalk, in a strip of grass.
Now this was on the North end of the strip, between Circus Circus and Stratosphere, a notoriously sketchy part of the strip. Honestly, I guess it could happen other places, but the chances of it happening here are significantly higher I think. So, if you see piles near a sidewalk, it may not be something left by a dog - just sayin!
How did I get off on that tangent! Aside from the ridiculous things you may see here, not the least of which being mostly naked women and men with things like glitter, band aids and pasties covering up the parts that would make what their doing "indecent exposure," there are other things here that you would not want kids to be continuously exposed to.
Walk through almost any casino, and you'll see young, scantily dressed girls dancing on tables, distracting men to get them to spend more money. In Vegas, money is the thing that drives most of the aberrant behaviors you see. Less than savory "characters" you come across in places like Fremont Street are another deterrent to bringing kids to, or trying to raise them in Las Vegas.
Many of the visitors here are only here for a short time, celebrating things like bachelor or bachelorette parties, weddings, anniversaries and other events and they know that whatever they do here most likely won't get back to the people wherever it is that they came from. So, it becomes a free for all. Although with social media, news may get back there after all! So, you tend to see more incidents of public drunkenness, brawls and unsavory behavior.
A List of Reasons Not to Raise Kids in Las Vegas
Aside from the reasons I've touched on so far for not raising kids in Las Vegas, here are some more:
- Bad Schools - We're not just talking bad schools, we're talking Nevada schools being 50th in the nation as of January 11, 2016. This had been improved at one time to 49th place, but since then has dropped down to last place again.
- Negative Influences - Gambling, drinking, prostitution, over sexualized billboards everywhere, strip clubs with younger and younger girls (One place is called "Little Darlings Totally Nude"). You get the idea.
- Gang Infiltration - Especially in schools and among young people who are left to fend for themselves after school because of lack of funds to afford after school care or day care
- Peer Influences - Problems that plague other parts of the country are magnified in Las Vegas, and this includes kids going to school with kids who have absentee parents, and parents who are stressed out to their limit and turning to alcohol and drugs
- Low Emphasis on Education - Education doesn't seem to be as important here - in general terms. There are some very good private schools and parents who do care, but they are the exception. You're more likely to find the opposite in Las Vegas. The feeling is that kids will most likely grow up to work in the service sector or in casinos, so there doesn't seem to be the emphasis on going to college or pursuing trade school education
- Preying on Youth - Predators involved in unsavory things like human trafficking look for young people who are expressing their independence in negative ways. The first place many kids go is to the strip or the bus station. This is where predators find their next victims of sex trafficking. They promise young people escape from problems through drugs and alcohol and freedoms that they may not have at home. What they end up with is quite the opposite, but being young and naive, many kids fall for these schemes
- Social Problems Magnified - Parents are stressed out over things like financial difficulties, foreclosures, alcoholism and addiction, and as a result, there are higher rates of child, spouse and domestic abuse
- No Sex Education - You read that right, no sex education in schools. Kids who have over-sexualized images thrust into their faces 24/7 need education and they don't get it
- Not Much for Teens - Many casinos have age restrictions on how late unsupervised teenagers can be in the casino, for safety of other patrons and for kid's safety, only this leads to fewer places for teens to hang out. There are parks, but even those may have evening curfews
Some of the Opposition Arguments
Now, to try to balance this with an opposing view, I have read articles praising Las Vegas for some of its family friendly offerings. This includes the Smith Center for the Performing Arts (A fantastic entertainment venue that families can go to for Broadway style plays and musicals). Then there is also the fantastic Discovery Children's Museum right next to the Smith Center. We even took our granddaughter there when she was four years old and she came to visit us! It was a fun place!
Another positive place for kids is Springs Preserve, and it's the closest thing you'll find in Las Vegas to a zoo. There is no actual zoo. The preserve features activities and attractions for kids that are both indoors and outdoors.
You can find some good schools in Las Vegas, but they are probably private and most likely expensive. You'll also find parents who really do care and are concerned about doing the best they can to raise good kids. It's not all negative! It would just take searching on your part if you were to consider moving here with kids.
My husband and I agreed that it would probably be okay here in Las Vegas for young families with young kids, especially if one parent is home with the kids, or if parents are very vigilant and are able to keep their kids somewhat away from negative influences. The thing is, that will be difficult to do here with the bad influences everywhere you turn, and with unsavory influences present even in the neighborhoods you're trying to live in. A transient population creates issues with people who don't share the same values, and who don't place an emphasis on things like integrity and treating people in a civil way.
Climate is not EverythingClick thumbnail to view full-size
The Decision to Move to Las Vegas
My husband actually had an Uncle who had lived in Las Vegas with his family years before we moved here. They seemed to enjoy their time here. They were originally from the Minneapolis area, and moved back there when his Aunt became ill and eventually passed away. They moved back to be closer to family again.
Now that we've been here for nearly seven years, we totally understand their decision to move back to the Midwest. Even with the cold and sometimes nasty weather in the Midwest, we have learned that climate isn't everything. Sure the weather is decent here, but there is something to be said for feeling safe where you live, too.
This can be a nice place to live for adults. To be honest, though, I still would not want to be raising young children here. With all the negative influences, the over-sexualized images that constantly bombard you, the anything goes, party atmosphere, the transient population here, and things like gangs and drugs that were here before, but have gotten worse, we both feel that this is not a place for kids. Some of the issues have existed for years, but lately it seems to have gotten worse because of an influx of people moving here from southern California, Los Angeles in particular.
When we moved here, our sons were married with children of their own and were still living in Wisconsin. We were "empty nesters," so when the job opportunity came up, we thought, why not give it a shot? We were both in our early fifties, so we were not nearly retirement age yet. We still had years to work, so why not take what seemed like a decent job?
I left a retail job to move here, and actually did not take another retail job here after seeing what the work environment would have been like! Instead, I found several outlets for writing online, and now I work writing website content. I have several clients who regularly send work to me, two of them are SEO companies that create websites for businesses and they come to me to supply them with content.
I've been fortunate to have been able to do this for five years, and have enjoyed working from home. This is also something I could do anywhere, which makes it even better!