While I was most recently visiting the incredible town of Wiarton Ontario, I experienced the epitome of people helping people that could have very well saved two little girls from potential child abuse. It made me realize just how important it is for mothers, parents, adult, teenagers – everyone – to look out for other people’s children because sometimes, they just don’t have that at home. Sometimes, kids just need someone to protection from things such as child abuse, and this is exactly why.
My sister, nephew, niece and I were heading up to the good ole’ north to cottage country land when we decided to stop off in Wiarton to say hello to Wiarton Willy and to play at the park and stretch out our legs at their incredible playground right on the water overlooking the stunning Ontario escarpment. After approximately an hour of playing, I see a 60-year-old man, smoking an unlit cigarette (true story) walk over to the playground. He was stumbling and rambling, appearing to be an intoxicated homeless man, at the very least. And while it is never recommended to judge a book by it’s cover, I recommend doing the exact opposite when a suspicious man (or even woman) comes up to a playground with no kids. What does a 60 year old man want with a playground full of kids?
I noticed that I wasn’t the only one becoming more and more weary of this man. Parents quickly started pulling their children off of the playground as they watched from the sidelines, and the man targeted in on the lone child – the one who came to the park with her sister – the one who had no parents there to protect them. He started to play with them, lifting them up on monkey bars, pushing their bums – it was just weird. The older sister stayed back, but the little one seemed to not be aware of the potential danger which is why it’s so important to provide child abuse preventative training.
The first dad turned to me and we both shared some words, confirming that this guy was weird. About 10 minutes later, another father came up and asked if the girls arrived with parents. I informed him that they rode their bikes here together. The dad was a local and he had seen the man wandering around the town, picking out of people’s trash and mentioned that he was known to have some “issues”.
Now, the amazing thing about mankind is that, without saying another word, we all kind of took a corner of the playground and watched after the little girl he was playing with. We all were done at the park, but refused to leave these little girls to fend for themselves if something were to happen. Again, without even speaking with one another, one dad called his local police friend, and I called the local police department just to let them know of the possible danger and that many parents were feeling very uncomfortable. I even snapped pictures of the man just in case. Without evening knowing we were doing it, the first dad, second dad and my sister and I were almost patrolling the park, updating one another with what is going on, what he has said to the child, etc.
She was calling him by first name, but that didn’t mean anything. That’s how a predator gets children… he first gets them to trust him. We waited for the police to arrive and watched these two little girls, as they were now the only ones left on the playground with this man as all the parents stood with their kids on the side. I felt like someone needed to talk to the girls, and get this weirdo and potential danger of child abuse away from them. So, I took the plunge.
I asked the one girl that he was focused on if I could speak with her. We sat on one of the jungle gyms and I asked her if she knew the man. She said his name. I asked how she knew him, and she said that he comes around the park sometimes. When I asked if she came with her parents, she said no and that her sister with whom she was with told her to stay away from this guy. So, I called the older sister over. The man was pacing behind me nervously this entire time, but I didn’t care. I had enough eyes on me for protection, and I felt like it is my duty as a citizen to protect children when their parents aren’t around.
The police arrived when I was talking to the little girls, and they told me that he had taken the little girl around and behind the corner before. My heart dropped. The older sister seemed to understand the danger, but the younger one that he was all over already had already received her innocence and trust. The worst part is that the mother found the little girl with the man once, and just told her to stay away. So, I let the girls know that they never leave the park without their family, and told the older sister to let her parents know that this man keeps coming around.
A new mother had arrived at the park, who was also a local, and as I walked away, she told me that she knows the mom and that the kids just wander the streets all hours of the day. With the information the older daughter told me about their lack of response from their mother about this potentially dangerous man, and this mom telling me that they are often seen wandering around gave us all a good idea of what their home life could potentially be like.
As I went over to speak with the two dads and the police officer who told the man he had no business being at a park playing with little girls, the mom turned to me to say thanks. She said that it’s nice to see someone standing up for kids who don’t have it at home, which brings me to this lifestyle blogs post.
Unfortunately, not all children have the parents, home or even knowledge to protect them from things such as child abuse, which is why it is so important for other adults to look out for all children. You would want the same if it were your kids at the park. This man could have easily just been homeless and lonely, but you just never know and it is better to protect children from potential child abuse, then to ignore it and give a weary situation the benefit of the doubt.
Sometimes in life, we have to be nosy, proactive, protective, confrontation – whatever you want to call it – for the sake of humanity.
Have you been in a situation where you or someone else should have spoken up?
I’d love to hear about it. Comment in the section below.