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When you see a child potentially in danger
And the parent isn't doing anything about it


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#1 Mamma_mia

Posted 19 December 2012 - 01:03 PM

I was waiting for a bus the other day in a bus interchange in Canberra. They are basically long thin strips of concrete with buses roaring up and down on both sides. Anyway, this gorgeous little girl (looked about 2) wandered past me on her own. I looked to see where her parent/s were, but she didn't appear to be with anyone. The closest adult was this young looking guy, but he was looking the other way. She kept walking and was starting to get quite far away from where I first saw her, wandering close to the road where the buses were. I noticed that some of the other people around were looking at her as well, and looking around for a parent with worried looks on their faces.

Just as I stood up, and was about to go over to her, I noticed that the young guy was playing peek-a-boo with her (at a distance) and she with him. Initially I think he was playing a game with her where he was pretending not to notice that she was walking away. With a big sigh of relief I thought, oh, ok that's her dad - he'll go and get her. But then he didn't! She kept walking further away, and he was just smiling and waving. Then she picked up more speed and started running. Eventually, when she was very far away, I heard him swear, and then he finally took off after her, just before she got to the end of the interchange and onto the main road. The whole thing made me quite anxious and I felt like I should have done something (when the father didn't react straight away). But then I thought maybe it wasn't my place and the father would tell me off.

When I told DH about it later, he basically said "not your child, not your problem, not your business". I said "what if she'd been hit by a bus?" and DH said "then it would be the father's fault, not yours". I thought that was a bit sad (his attitude). sad.gif I'd like to think that someone would help my DS if he was in danger and I wasn't close by.

I should have prefaced this by saying I suffer from anxiety and some people consider me over-protective of my DS. I'm fairly comfortable, however, with how I parent him. But it's getting a bit ridiculous when you start to get anxious and stressed out by what you see other people's kids doing!

Anyway, just wondering what others would have done in this situation.

Edited by Mamma_mia, 19 December 2012 - 01:34 PM.


#2 Jax12

Posted 19 December 2012 - 01:14 PM

Unfortunately I think I would have ummed and ahhed over what to do, eventually doing nothing and then feeling awful about all the 'what ifs' afterwards.  If the person watching her had called her and she was running away then I probably would have tried to gently stop her if she ran past, was nearby or I was closer to her than him, but only if it was clear he was trying to grab her.  If he wasn't overly worried I probably wouldn't have interfered for fear of getting told off...that's an honest answer of what I *think* I would do, not what I would hope I would do.  I hope I would keep a child safe if I saw a risk and I was in a position to help, regardless of not wanting to cop it from an irate parent.

#3 jtsmith83

Posted 19 December 2012 - 01:16 PM

I don't think you were being a busy body at all, any one with common sense would be alarmed at the sight of a toddler moving around a bus station without someone holding her hand or walking next to her.  It's happened to me at a public pool, while watching my two kids I still managed to stop a 1 year old possibly falling/jumping into the pool. This child was not supervised as I later found out the mother was at the kiosk, she said she only took her eyes off him for a moment.  Now I am not blaming the mother, we all have moments where we can have a lapse of judgement, but that is why we need to look out for each other.

#4 rosiebird

Posted 19 December 2012 - 01:17 PM

I would have headed her off before she got close to the road and bugger what anyone else thought. There needs to be 1 responsible adult in the child's life! But then I am the old harpie who tells kids off for sliding down the slide without waiting for the child at the bottom to move and other heinous acts like that.

#5 Mamma_mia

Posted 19 December 2012 - 01:29 PM

Hi. Thanks for your replies. original.gif

I should add that I first saw her when she was close to me, and at that point she wasn't going too close to the road, and I thought her parent must be close by. When she got further away from me, she started going faster and close to the road and that's also when I realised the father was not going after her. There were other people closer to her then, who all looked like they were the same as me ie. worried but not sure what to do.

If the father was calling her or trying to catch her, I would have helped. But when I saw that he was not worried, I wasn't sure what to do (afraid of being told off!). Also I thought, oh well, he knows his child better than I do. He only just managed to catch her before she got to the main road though!

#6 Funwith3

Posted 19 December 2012 - 01:34 PM

I think I would have jokingly said to him something like "haha she's getting pretty far away... will she come back!?" Or... "I'm not sure if she's playing your game anymore!" I wouldn't have told him what to do, more just hinted that he should go get her.

#7 Mamma_mia

Posted 19 December 2012 - 01:50 PM

QUOTE (jtsmith83 @ 19/12/2012, 02:16 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
we all have moments where we can have a lapse of judgement, but that is why we need to look out for each other.


Yes! This! It takes a village and all that ... I think when it comes to a child's safety it's everyone's responsibility. (I'm talking about immediate life threatening danger, not whether or not the child is eating french fries or drinking coke from their bottle! LOL). That's why I was disappointed by DH's attitude.

Edited by Mamma_mia, 19 December 2012 - 01:50 PM.


#8 Azadel

Posted 19 December 2012 - 01:59 PM

DS slipped from my arms at the pool recently and ran towards the water. He was chasing the bigger kids and I knew he wouldn't go in, he'd decided it was too cold, but I was still extremely grateful to the woman who scooped him up as he ran past. I'd do the same.

#9 ToddlerWrangler

Posted 19 December 2012 - 02:19 PM

I think i would have stopped her, played a game of some sort and returned her to her father, if he gave me a mouthful i would have have just raise my eyebrows at him.
My DD is 2 and she likes to play games with me also, but there is NO way i would let her play those kinds of games in a bus depot or anywhere near a road.

#10 steppy

Posted 19 December 2012 - 02:19 PM

This happens to me all the time. I can't stand it when parents let their kids do stupid things and sort of leave you with the responsibility. No matter how much it isn't my problem, if something happens I'm going to kick myself for not doing something.

It used to drive me crazy on public transport - some stupid idiot parent blabbing away on their phone and paying no attention while their toddler wandered close to open doors at stations, and me watching and hoping the child wouldn't get off without the parent. And standing on chairs near windows etc. I've always thought that if you think it's fine for your kids to do dangerous things in public, you should be the one standing closest to them - not some poor passerby who has to freak out on your behalf. Annoys me.

#11 Guest_Maybelle_*

Posted 19 December 2012 - 02:22 PM

I have "herded" kids back to their parents before, along with an "Oops, better go back to Mummy/Daddy".  If I can't identify the parent I try to engage with the child and then let the parent know that I wasn't sure who the little one was with.  So far nobody has objected.

I am a helicopter stranger!

#12 Sail to the Moon

Posted 19 December 2012 - 02:24 PM

If a child is in danger and you can't see a responsible adult looking after them, then I absolutely think it is everybody's responsibility to step in.

Years ago when I was at the local shops, a young child with additional needs ran ahead from his mother and wouldn't stop. I was able to stop him by holding onto his hand until his mum caught up.

If the child was in any immediate danger, then obviously you can't just ignore them. If they were just looking a bit lost, then you could ask the child where mum/dad is (if they are old enough to understand) or ask adults nearby if the child belongs to them.

#13 CountryFeral

Posted 19 December 2012 - 02:27 PM

Is this the place for me to confess I actually drove past a house with a child hanging by one hand from the balcony railing the other day?

I was in that "going home, nearly home, going home" mind set and saw it out of the corner of my eye and though 'Hmmmm child dangling off balcony. Now, what am I cooking for dinner?'..

About 300m down the road I though 'CHILD DANGLING FROM BALCONY!!! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGH!!'  and did a U turn and sped back down the road!

By then of course child had obviously either rescued himself or been yanked in by a furious parent.  There was no child dangling from the balcony anymore.

#14 Tobias'smum

Posted 19 December 2012 - 02:45 PM

i was in the same situation years ago but it was a train platform not a bus station but if i didnt run after this kid in my heels in the rain after noticing the parents not doing anything there would have been a funeral as the train was coming as the child tried climbing down onto the tracks.

The parent then almost tried to punch me for touching their child but luckily there was security on the train and the train driver had seen the childjust as i grabbed him.

My son loves to play games etc but the bus/train station is not the place to do so and he must stay by my side end of story

#15 JustBeige

Posted 19 December 2012 - 03:22 PM

QUOTE (Funwith3 @ 19/12/2012, 02:34 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I think I would have jokingly said to him something like "haha she's getting pretty far away... will she come back!?" Or... "I'm not sure if she's playing your game anymore!" I wouldn't have told him what to do, more just hinted that he should go get her.

This is probably what I would have done.

If I was down the end where she was, closer to the road, I probably would have done like Maybelle and herded her back to safety.

I havent been abused yet, mostly thanked. sometimes not (just ill manners).

#16 sparassidae

Posted 19 December 2012 - 03:32 PM

QUOTE (Maybelle @ 19/12/2012, 03:22 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I have "herded" kids back to their parents before, along with an "Oops, better go back to Mummy/Daddy".  If I can't identify the parent I try to engage with the child and then let the parent know that I wasn't sure who the little one was with.  So far nobody has objected.

I am a helicopter stranger!


Me too, I did it on Monday actually, and for me it's not even a case of waiting if a child is potentially in danger, I do it if they seem to be wandering without an adult or getting too far away from the obvious adult (so for a small toddler- more than about 10 m).

I know for me I would rather someone intervened gently to slow them down and if possible head them back in the right direction before it gets to that "running as a game and heading for a road" stage

On Monday it was simply a young toddler wandering out of the open fronted medical centre in our local shopping centre as I walked past with my trolley. A simple hand on her shoulder to turn and a "hang on sweetie, you should head back in" , meanwhile Dad appeared in the doorway with a grateful smile. She was in no danger at that point, but yeah I'd rather stop them well before they get to that point.

I have only ever received (and given, when I'm the chasing parent) thanks.

#17 lamarque

Posted 19 December 2012 - 04:55 PM

QUOTE (Mamma_mia @ 19/12/2012, 02:03 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
When I told DH about it later, he basically said "not your child, not your problem, not your business". I said "what if she'd been hit by a bus?" and DH said "then it would be the father's fault, not yours". I thought that was a bit sad (his attitude). sad.gif I'd like to think that someone would help my DS if he was in danger and I wasn't close by.

unsure.gif   If she was hit by a bus, you don't sound like the kind of person that would easily fob it off as 'not my child, not my business'.   If you think a child is in danger - intervene, always.


#18 Soontobegran

Posted 19 December 2012 - 06:45 PM

I would never ever take offence if some kind person intervened if it appeared that my child was in danger and I was not right onto it.
How could anyone possibly be anything other than grateful?

#19 erindiv

Posted 19 December 2012 - 06:51 PM

You know what? Even if you did 'rescue' a child one day, and the parent decided to abuse you, so what? You have potentially saved that child's life, and maybe the parent will think twice the next time.

#20 Escapin

Posted 19 December 2012 - 07:00 PM

Yep, I'm a helicopter stranger too original.gif Takes a village and all that.

#21 Jellybean900

Posted 19 December 2012 - 07:03 PM

I always try to watch out for children who are potentially in danger.  The other day a small girl (maybe 2?) was running down the footpath and towards the road with her mother calling after her.  I was walking towards them and much closer to the child than mother.  I didn't stop the child or touch her but I did slow down to stay near her in case she did go onto the road.  She stopped running before she got to the road.

I would hug someone who grabbed my running child.  Seriously,  I would be praying someone would intervene and be so grateful.

Even my own siblings take the view that they are only responsible for their children and wouldn't intervene with my children,  whereas I take the view that the adult that's closest or notices an issue should intervene.

#22 123tree

Posted 19 December 2012 - 07:07 PM

When my little boy was two years old he wandered away from me while I was dealing with our new born.  It was so foolish but it took a second.  A wonderful wonderful stranger stopped him wandering around a busy car park heading to the main road.  By the time I found him I was beside myself and almost hysterical.  

Every day since I wish that I had been more coherent and been able to say one thousand thank you's to that lady.

#23 Red nut

Posted 20 December 2012 - 10:14 PM

I know a child is not a dog, but we were standing in our street the other night, and an anxious guy is there with his dog, and our neighbours dog, who has bolted back from the park without his owner across a busy road. DP went to open their gate to let the dog in, but it is skittish and bolted onto our less busy road instead, getting hit by a car turning the corner. Fortunately the dog seems to be OK

It's hard to predict what's going to happen. The little one may have ran off faster, either scared of you or thinking it was a game, and the outcome may have been worse. Don't second guess yourself.

#24 Bazinga

Posted 20 December 2012 - 10:38 PM

The OP brought a tear to my eye  cry1.gif

*mentions child death*





I too would have ummed and arghed but I think my instincts would have kicked in and I would have gone after her.

I think I'm all little bit overprotective in situations like that because as a child myself (7) and my two siblings (3 & 9) were sitting in the backseat of our family car, dad in the drivers seat, waiting for mum to come out of the fish and chip shop. A car parked in front of us and the father got out and went into the shop also leaving a 5ish year old boy playing in the car. The passenger front window was down slightly and he was hanging out and waving at us. He then proceeded to shimmy his way out of the window, drop to the ground and ran between our cars and straight onto a busy road. He was hit and killed instantly. Dad didn't even have time to react it happened that fast.

I remember every detail like it was yesterday. Me saying that the boy climbed out, the screech of the tyres, the horrible sound of bones breaking, the look of sheer terror on my brothers faces as we all watched it unfold, my mother grabbing the arm of the man next to her and having him scream in horror when he realised it was his boy laying in the road and the white coat the shop owners laid over him drenched on blood.

I will remember that until the day I die. If an angry parent is all you have to deal with then thats the best we can wish for.

#25 Veryclucky

Posted 21 December 2012 - 12:22 PM

QUOTE (countrymel @ 19/12/2012, 02:27 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Is this the place for me to confess I actually drove past a house with a child hanging by one hand from the balcony railing the other day?

I was in that "going home, nearly home, going home" mind set and saw it out of the corner of my eye and though 'Hmmmm child dangling off balcony. Now, what am I cooking for dinner?'..

About 300m down the road I though 'CHILD DANGLING FROM BALCONY!!! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGH!!'  and did a U turn and sped back down the road!

By then of course child had obviously either rescued himself or been yanked in by a furious parent.  There was no child dangling from the balcony anymore.


I have done similar but with a dog pretty much the whole way out between the railings. By the time I turned around, stopped the car and got out to let the owners know, the dog was back inside. Still not sure if I was hallucinating or not  unsure.gif

I have also many a time rounded up a wayward child at the shops, train station etc to stop them getting into danger. I would rather get abused by the parents then see a child get injured when I could have prevented it.

Edited by Veryclucky, 21 December 2012 - 12:30 PM.





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