Posted on August 6, 2013

Why Do So Many American Parents Brawl at Chuck E. Cheese? Alcohol, Stress and Excitement Cause Wild Rages, Claims Psychologist

Daily Mail (London), August 4, 2013

Chuck E. Cheese restaurants have been popular spots for kids’ birthday parties for decades. These days, however, the restaurants are a pretty popular spot to throw up your dukes, too, as a series of large brawls between the adults accompanying children has given the chain a bit of a black eye in the PR department.

Just last week, two women were arrested following a brawl at a Chuck E. Cheese that involved more than 20 people. That same location has seen more than 80 emergency calls to 9-1-1 in less than two years.

A few weeks earlier, a fight broke out at a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant in Commack, New York. In that case, a woman is seen fighting while holding a baby.

‘Despite our corporate and in-store staffs’ efforts to facilitate a friendly atmosphere, unfortunately an occasional altercation occurs with a very small percentage of those who visit our restaurants. And like kids’ soccer and baseball games across our country, typically the incidents are not with the kids, but regrettably the parents,’ the company said in a statement to HLN.

So what’s causing this spike in brawls? Several things, according to a Southern California-based psychologist with expertise in family and child issues.

‘The elements within the environment can stimulate aggressive, impulsive behaviors,’ Dr. Dean Leav, told HLN. Not to be underestimated, Leav said, is the indulgence of alcohol.

‘Situations that involve a group of excited people and alcohol can often lead to acts of violence. A classic example is the fights that frequently break out during baseball games,’ she said.

But Chuck E. Cheese hasn’t always been a place where fights routinely happen. According to the company, in its more than 35 years, there has been a relatively small amount of violence.

In 2012, 99.99% of approximately 65 million guest visits at Chuck E. Cheese’s occurred without incident and resulted in smiles,” the company said.

Leay said that witnessing these types of incidents can be harmful to children long-term.

‘Many adults have poor impulse control,’ he said. “They frequently fail to consider the consequences of their actions even when kids are present.’

He goes on to say that parents today aren’t like parents from prior generations, which could explain the increase in violence at places designed for children.

‘Many of these adults are ‘wired’ or have the predisposition to respond in such a maladaptive way,’ Leav said. ‘The kids, unfortunately, learn how to be impulsive themselves by observing the adults.’