Australian Runaway Girl Spent 2 Nights at Male Stranger’s Home, and Everyone is Cool with That

Readers — This is a strange story that gives me heart.  A stranger helps a runaway girl. Her parents, rather than accusing him of impropriety, are grateful. The girl seems fine and the stranger is happy with a low profile. No one accuses him of white slavery, pink slavery, any slavery. This is as good as a runaway situation can be! And it’s news!

As the Sydney sberdshfzy
Morning Herald reports

The father of runaway schoolgirl Michelle Levy says his daughter ate chocolate, read books and slept on a spare mattress but does not know anything about the stranger who allowed her to stay in his eastern suburbs unit for two nights. And he does not want to. Adam Levy said he wanted to thank the man who had “taken her under his wing” but did not think it was important to ask his 11-year-old daughter what his name was.

“If he wants to be in touch with us, we welcome the opportunity to thank him but beyond that we are allowing him to go his own way,” he told Fairfax Media on Tuesday.

A day after the Woollahra Public School student was found safe and well, police and paramedics were called to the Randwick unit block where she had been staying with a man aged in his 50s.

Police said they were concerned for the man’s welfare after he failed to answer his mobile phone on Tuesday.

Concerned about the man instead of “suspicious?” Lovely! You can read the rest here, savoring the reminder that when men in their 50s meet runaway girls, the upshot is not necessarily lurid. In fact, it can involve activities as prosaic as reading and snacking. – L

It's a brave man who takes in a teen runaway.

It’s a brave man who takes in a young runaway.

85 Responses to Australian Runaway Girl Spent 2 Nights at Male Stranger’s Home, and Everyone is Cool with That

  1. Earth.W October 28, 2014 at 11:21 pm #

    I was speaking to someone on the phone today who raised this with me; “Did you hear about the 50 year old man who took that girl?”. Yes, she had been listening to her regular right wing shock jock on the radio. Didn’t know anything about it but people ringing up, wondering why he took her to his place instead of straight to the Police.

    Here is a man who should publicly praised by the media. It’s how we should be. As for the question on why he didn’t take the girl to the cops straight away, who knows what the situation was. We don’t know if she was appearing as possibly having run from an abusive household and dragging a strange run away girl isn’t the best decision to make.

    Instead, he took her in, fed her and kept her from the dangers of the streets at night and sought help for the girl to be helped. He should be thanked and society should be grateful.

  2. Dhewco October 29, 2014 at 6:05 am #

    In this day of single man suspicion, I wouldn’t have taken her to the police either. I would help and try to talk her into returning (depending on the reason for her running). Eventually (after she’d calmed down and seemed better off), I would have dropped her off with either my religious leader (bishop) or on the same block as the police.

    I wouldn’t risk the parents accusing me of some sort of crime. If the situation at her home was abusive, the parents could accuse me of whatever she had experienced. Hopefully, the kid isn’t one of those who accuse someone of something to attract attention.

  3. Archibald Baal October 29, 2014 at 8:45 am #

    If I were him, I’d want to maintain my anonymity for exactly the reason Dhewco mentioned: the accusations which could arise either from the parents or the child (“encouraged” by the parents) would make it too risky. It’s a wonder he helped at all. I’m impressed.

  4. SJH October 29, 2014 at 9:04 am #

    It’s cool that he wasn’t afraid to help out and take care of her. But I have to admit, if I knew my daughter had stayed with a single man I didn’t know, I would be uncomfortable!

  5. Jill October 29, 2014 at 9:34 am #

    “I would have dropped her off with my religious leader (bishop) or on the same block with the police.”
    Laughing so hard at that comment.

  6. pentamom October 29, 2014 at 9:49 am #

    What if she didn’t WANT to go to the police? Was he supposed to bodily drag her? That would have gone over well on so many levels! /sarc

  7. pentamom October 29, 2014 at 9:52 am #

    SJH, I’d be uncomfortable, too, but if a daughter old enough to understand these things reported that nothing happened but sleeping on a spare mattress and safely eating snacks while she was there, I’d be relieved and consider it the end of the matter.

    Of course it’s not the end of the matter that she ran away in the first place — clearly there’s stuff there to be addressed. But if nothing happened, then nothing happened. Eleven year old girls staying alone at the homes of single male strangers it not something to be promoted, but all’s well that ends well, truly.

  8. E October 29, 2014 at 9:59 am #

    I’m glad the girl is home and I’m sure I would be so overwhelmed with relief that I wouldn’t be thinking of much else.

    But let’s be honest — it’s very unusual for any adult to ‘take in’ a 11 year old child and not reach out to anyone for 2 days. No adult should be encouraged to do that. An adult has to know that the child’s parents are frantically worrying about the whereabouts of the child.

  9. Dhewco October 29, 2014 at 10:48 am #

    Of course, he would know that that’s possible. However, depending on the story the girl was telling him…he might think she was better off. If I helped that girl, I’d be frozen with indecision (besides the decision to help). One hand, there’s getting the child back and on the other, the desire to protect themselves. It might take me a few days to make up my mind about which risk to take.

    Also, indecision could make it harder. After all, after some time passed, turning her into the authorities would only make it worse. Cops would naturally assume he’s a perv, no matter what she said. They’d get warrants for his computer, question his family, and do research into his life.

    All in all, I’d like to think I’d help a child in trouble…but I’d be freaking with worry that something would be taken out of context. It would freeze me up.

    I’m willing to be that indecision is why it took so long. He probably took her back when she decided leaving was a mistake and that it was hurting her parents. I’ll bet he’s still worrying that his generosity will come back on him.

  10. Dhewco October 29, 2014 at 10:51 am #

    PS. The girl might have been mad enough to claim her parents didn’t care rather she lived or died. So, he doesn’t have to have thought her parents were frantic. Also, I’ve known parents who don’t give a *bleep* that their kid is around. It happens, unfortunately.

    I will admit that it’s unusual for a man to do this. I just wish we knew more about why the kid ran.

  11. E October 29, 2014 at 11:22 am #

    @Dhewco — the girl was 11 years old. Any adult should absolutely know 100% that they cannot and should not take this situation on alone. It is not their child. They are not the sole arbiter on what is good/safe/true/untrue concerning a child that is a stranger to them. Even if the child appeared to be abused (maybe especially), you should not just shelter a kid for 40 hours w/o contacting someone.

    And what decision was there to make anyway? To just keep the kid?

    The articles linked from Lenora’s URL indicate there was a family squabble related to discipline.

    I mean — the bottom line is thank goodness this girl is safe and I completely understand that parent not feeling anything but relief (and applaud them for what they’ve said in the media). However, it’s a very unusual situation. For all we know the girl would have gone back home if she didn’t have an alternative.

    I think the parents might want to understand who the adult is, if for no other reason than to know who to contact in the event she runs away again. I’d feel a little need to understand the state in which she was found and how things unfolded the way they did. But I completely understand that it’s not something they need to work out in the public eye.

  12. E October 29, 2014 at 11:29 am #

    @Dhewco — and to use your “she might have said…” points out the obvious…it would have been a LIE and the stranger has no right to decide either way. The parents launched a HUGE search effort with 100s of people in the community and clearly DO care greatly for this kid. That’s the point — you can’t just shelter a minor child no matter what they claim…period.

  13. pentamom October 29, 2014 at 11:46 am #

    E — coulda, woulda, shoulda. I agree that the man did not act in the wisest possible way.

    And that’s what happens — people don’t always act in the best way. They make mistakes, are stupid, are irresponsible.

    And most of the time, if they’re not malicious, things turn out okay. Was it foolish and thoughtless not to consider that people were probably out there panicking over this? Yes, if that’s how he was thinking, that was objectively the wrong way to think.

    And people do wrong stuff, make bad decisions, etc. For every so many good, responsible, mature people out there who would handle a situation like this well, there is a certain number of clueless, foolish, incompetent people who wouldn’t. That’s part of life.

    But considering that the child actually *was in no danger* as a result of his (purportedly) careless, thoughtless behavior, in the end, it wasn’t a disaster. And I frankly cannot think of way in which it could have been a disaster unless he actually had had malicious intent.

  14. baby-paramedic October 29, 2014 at 12:40 pm #

    He contacted Anglicare on the Monday.
    Anglicare is one of the organizations that places at risk children into alternate accommodation (eg, fostering).
    If you look under foster care in the phonebook, it is the first to come up.
    The office is also typically only open Monday to Friday, business hours. I have not called the phone number listed in the phonebook, but most similar organizations say something along the lines of “Please call us during business hours Monday to Friday 9am-5pm.”, some with a disclaimer of “If this is an emergency, please call 000”.
    Growing up it was not unusual for us to have people sleep in the spare bedroom for the night, people who couldn’t go home for whatever reason. As an adult I have continued the good example my parents gave me. Admittedly, none have been as young as this (although, I am fairly rubbish at telling ages), although I did wind up with two thirteen or fourteen year olds one night (“runaways”, they got on a train and got off in a different city, then had no money to get back, and the trains had stopped running. I came across them freaking in the city, completely lost. They called their parents and I put them on an express train the next morning).
    Luckily I am a girl. Otherwise I would have gotten in all sorts of strife over the strays I have brought home.

  15. E October 29, 2014 at 1:00 pm #

    @pentamom — I’m not really interested in the “woulda coulda” part of it — that’s what I was responding to that they child “coulda” said he parents didn’t care about her by simply pointing out that you could also say “she might have gone home w/o an alternative”. I was merely responding to 1 “what if” with another.

    That’s why the takeaway (for me) is “thank goodness she’s home” and “this is NOT the correct way to deal with a lost/runaway kid”.

  16. lollipoplover October 29, 2014 at 1:20 pm #

    You’re dealing with a runaway. Her mindset may not be completely rational at age 11(she ran away over an argument about…chocolate) and she’s immature. Getting her back to her family, on her terms, IS a good outcome. Not the timeliest, but she’s home.

  17. E October 29, 2014 at 1:23 pm #

    I guess for me — this is a situation where you can be very thankful and appreciate your kid is home. It is not a situation to hold up as an example of good citizenship, unless you are defining that as merely a “not harming someone” standard. When an 11 year old doesn’t come home overnight — you don’t apply any sort of FR thinking, you wonder where the hell your kid is. Any adult that perpetuates that anguish…we’ll it’s not brave or kind. It’s odd and wrong.

  18. E October 29, 2014 at 1:26 pm #

    Getting her back to her family is a good outcome. I’m not sure about “on her terms”…what if her terms were another week later?

    I feel like I’m missing something, but oh well.

  19. marie October 29, 2014 at 1:36 pm #

    When an 11 year old doesn’t come home overnight — you don’t apply any sort of FR thinking, you wonder where the hell your kid is. Any adult that perpetuates that anguish…we’ll it’s not brave or kind. It’s odd and wrong.

    But not illegal, and that is the point. Calling the cops and pressing charges for something, anything!, seems to be the kneejerk reaction too often. For this girl to have run away and come home a couple days later with no one charged for anything is a big deal.

    For a quick example, see Lenore’s previous post about the car stolen with the baby inside. The story has a happy ending, no one doubts that the mom will turn the car off next time, no one is hurt…and yet the editorial writer cannot be content to leave things alone. Charges must be pressed!

  20. E October 29, 2014 at 1:48 pm #

    Who suggested it was illegal?

    I’d take issue with it being “prosaic” or “brave”, but I didn’t see anyone say he should be arrested.

  21. EricS October 29, 2014 at 1:49 pm #

    Had I been the man to have found this girl I probably would have done the same thing. According to the article, it’s not clear if she asked if she go with the man, or the man offered (due to concerns of her being on her own, and distraught) and she accepted.

    I’ve run away, I’ve had friends who’ve run away, I have friends who’s children have run away. And the one thing that is common in all of them, is that something happened at home that was bad enough (for them) to not return home right away. Allowing a child like this to calm down, gather their thoughts, sort things out, and/or even give them some sage advice, allows them to willingly make the right decision to go home. Forcing them, or even involving police would only set them back.

    I don’t know if I would have waited 2 days, but nonetheless, I don’t think there was anything wrong with what this man did. He helped this little girl. When I ran away, I went to a friend’s place, and I asked if I can stay for a little while because I didn’t want to go home just yet. They put me up for 3 days. However, they did call my parents after the first day, to let them know I was ok. And would be good for me and my folks to take a breather. Those 3 days helped both me and my parents. It allowed all of us to reset and refocus. And we all realized we did something wrong on our end.

    But as most things, this one had a happy ending. And I’m glad the media didn’t try to spin this into something terrible and frightening. Not even a “what if…”. However, it looks like society is doing the “what if…” for them. No doubt, this will resonate negatively for some people. Sad.

  22. E October 29, 2014 at 2:03 pm #

    Interesting view point on people who would shelter an 11 year old kid/stranger they have 0 knowledge about. And it’s interesting to me that it’s a viewpoint on a FR forum. I thought the conventional FR wisdom was that parents are the best people to make decisions on behalf of their kids and other parties (police, CPS, nosy neighbors) need to respect that. In this case, a total stranger taking responsibility for the kid is no issue?


  23. steve October 29, 2014 at 2:36 pm #

    If this caring stranger had been a 50-year-old single woman, would people still assume her judgment was lacking?

  24. E October 29, 2014 at 2:56 pm #

    @steve — of course. I actually tried to use “adult” and “child” in my posts because I think it doesn’t matter. We are talking about a 11 year old kid, whose parents had mounted a huge search effort (reportedly 1000 people involved).

    Any reasonable adult would have to presume (regardless of what they’d been told) that the parents deserve to know their child’s whereabouts and that they are safe. Ignoring that, you are just willing to let a set of parent twist in the wind. I mean, no parent is going to say “well I guess some random stranger has been keeping my kid for the last 40 hours and eventually they’ll turn up”. You’re going to search in case the kid is lost, scared, sick, injured, or yes, worse. To allow parents to go thru that — of course it’s questionable.

    (Please note, I’m not suggesting the person did anything other than what’s being reported — but they DID allow these parents to go thru a LOT of unnecessary anguish.)

  25. lollipoplover October 29, 2014 at 2:57 pm #

    “Any adult that perpetuates that anguish…we’ll it’s not brave or kind. It’s odd and wrong.”

    How do you know this without knowing her story as to why she ran away (HER choice)?
    Yes, there were search parties looking for this girl. It sounds to me like she didn’t want to be found and wanted time away. How is blaming a random stranger guy, who didn’t wake up that day expecting to deal with an 11 year-old runaway odd or wrong?
    He acted compassionately.
    He called Anglicare to arrange her safe return (maybe she feared punishment-her father has a pending assault charge). There is no proper protocol to deal with a runaways. Many run to escape abuse. What about her anguish?
    Don’t shoot the helper.

  26. E October 29, 2014 at 3:47 pm #

    That’s just it — we don’t know her story. And neither did the person who sheltered her. She is 11.

    It’s so interesting to me that all the things that nosy neighbors assume/fear when they intervene is suddenly the justification for a complete stranger NOT notifying ANYONE of the girl’s whereabouts for 40 hours. Not an hour..not a few hours…40 hours.

    Double standard? Your neighbor shouldn’t call anyone if they fear your child is being neglected (based on incomplete information) but a perfect stranger is justified in not calling ANYONE for the exact same reasons.

    I don’t see how you can have this both ways.

  27. Stacy October 29, 2014 at 4:08 pm #

    “If this caring stranger had been a 50-year-old single woman, would people still assume her judgment was lacking?”

    That is a good point. I was thinking that he made a bad decision, and then I realized that I might make the same decision and not even worry that people would be suspicious of my motives because I am female. I know too much about what home life can be like for some children and might feel afraid of what could happen if I called the police and she was returned. Even if she refused to tell me her story, I might shelter her for a couple days before contacting anyone, so she could calm down and be more ready to explain what was going on and whether she was in danger.

  28. no rest for the weary October 29, 2014 at 4:11 pm #

    My kid ran away when he was five, it was dark, he took a little broom as a weapon to protect himself, and he intended to get to his other parent’s house.

    A woman found him on the road, weeping, and he tried to battle her off with the broom until she convinced him she meant no harm and wanted to help him get to safety.

    She called me after they got to the other parent’s house and no one was home. My kid came clean and admitted that he’d run away from MY house, and this woman alerted me immediately. She said, “I think I have something you might be looking for.” I never forgot this, because I thought it was a creepy way to say it, but whatever. He was safe.

    I have a 10-year-old daughter. If she took off angry and didn’t come home after dark, I wouldn’t be laid back about that. When my 5-year-old took off, I called the police immediately after I searched the yard and came up empty.

    This story somehow reminds me of the Leiby Kletzky case a few years ago. It had a VERY tragic end (the “kindly stranger” who found the “lost boy” ended up smothering and dismembering him, but only after “caring” for him for a day or so while everyone in his Hasidic community searched for him), and the guy who harmed the child was clearly not “all there,” but part of his story was that he brought the kid home to his place, didn’t contact the authorities, saw posters up all over the neighbourhood the next day, and panicked because he didn’t want to get in trouble for “taking” the boy.

    So he killed the boy and tried to dump his body parts in the trash.

    There’s something about the frantic qualities of the organized search… and something about the panic that ensues once you know that you might look like the “bad guy” when people come frantically looking for the “lost child”… I don’t know.

    I would indeed be scared if my girl left angry and didn’t come home. I would be thrilled for whatever help I could get searching for her to get her home. I would be a wreck until she was found. And if someone had helped her, but decided not to alert the authorities that she was indeed found, I would be MAD AS HELL that I’d spent an extra, oh, 36 hours tearing my goddamned hair out of my head. Because as Free-Range as I am, I would NOT be keen on a pre-teen left to their own devices in a decent-sized city overnight… two overnights possibly.

    Happy the girl is OK, very perplexed about the delay in alerting those searching, and reminded, yes, of a case where the panic of harbouring a kid that everyone is frantically searching for can lead to tragedy.

  29. Stacy October 29, 2014 at 4:14 pm #

    “It’s so interesting to me that all the things that nosy neighbors assume/fear when they intervene is suddenly the justification for a complete stranger NOT notifying ANYONE of the girl’s whereabouts for 40 hours. Not an hour..not a few hours…40 hours.

    Double standard? Your neighbor shouldn’t call anyone if they fear your child is being neglected (based on incomplete information) but a perfect stranger is justified in not calling ANYONE for the exact same reasons.

    I don’t see how you can have this both ways.”

    I personally have no problem with neighbors calling the police if they have a good reason to worry about abuse or neglect. Kids sometimes do need to be protected from parents and others in the home. Anyone who doubts this has led a wonderfully sheltered life, and I envy them. A kid running away from home and either claiming abuse or refusing to talk is a good reason to worry, even though it obviously doesn’t always mean abuse or neglect.

  30. lollipoplover October 29, 2014 at 4:17 pm #

    “…the parents deserve to know their child’s whereabouts and that they are safe.”

    But the child also deserves to be safe. She has rights too.
    What if turning her into the police right away (and back in the hands of parents) put her in danger? She may have faced a fight or flight response and choose to flee for her own safety. Yes, 2 days seems excessive, but giving her a safe haven to decide how to handle a very difficult situation and not directly reporting it to police may have been the best choice here. Who are we to judge from the comfort of our keyboards?

  31. Cassie October 29, 2014 at 4:52 pm #

    Wow these comments. It seems we have struck a major limitation on the free-ranging idea.

    I am australian. I get it. I have zero problem with it. I didn’t even know about it because I haven’t seen it on the news. It all makes sense to me.

  32. Dhewco October 29, 2014 at 4:56 pm #

    We don’t know anything about the home situation other than the above. Based on that article and the apparent care for the kid, sure…she should have been returned immediately. But, it makes a difference what story the kid told this citizen.

    We just have no way of knowing. There are always reasons to do stuff that people think are wrong. Maybe not good reasons, but there are reasons.

  33. Rhode Island Mom October 29, 2014 at 4:57 pm #

    I also find this odd. What if her home situations isn’t safe? But what if it is? What if she’s manipulative and lying? What if, what if, what if… The point is that it was not this man’s place to decide what was best for this girl. Almost 2 days is a very long time. If I were her parents I would be livid. But that doesn’t mean I would want charges pressed against him. I can’t believe all of the people stating they would take in a strange kid for that long. Weird.

  34. Rhode Island Mom October 29, 2014 at 5:02 pm #

    I don’t think I matters what she told the man at all. If I encountered a kid who had runaway and he/she told me horror stories of their home life I wouldn’t then just get to decide to keep the child.

    Yes, its reassuring that he won’t face charges. But it doesn’t make his actions correct.

  35. JP Merzetti October 29, 2014 at 5:19 pm #

    While all the imaginistas try wrapping their tiny brains around the story – the bottom line is that the girl is all right.
    And of course she is.
    Why shouldn’t she be?
    She happened to luck out into a meeting with someone absolutely trustworthy.
    Imagine that.

    How a competent adult is actually capable of protecting a child and keeping her from harm.
    This is also how the world works.

    “How” he protected her and kept her from harm beats the crap out of all the protocols, policies, and knee-jerked correctitudes imagineable.
    Fact is, he couldn’t possibly imagine doing anything else differently…
    Possibly for excellent reasons.
    Or for the simple reason of just doing what actually comes natural.

    Of course we’d analyze him to death.
    (which is what the man wanted to avoid in the first place)

    Imagine instead – deferring the honor – only to leave her to the chances of fate….and perhaps a much worse outcome.
    We want her to be safe.
    But we also need her to be “correctly” safe.

    Safe is safe.

  36. Donald October 29, 2014 at 5:56 pm #

    News like this is a breath of fresh air!

    Helicopter parents are not the only ones that loose touch with reality. I do as well. I have read so many stories about ‘out of control’ hysteria that I forget that some people still use common sense.

    This is EXACTLY what she needed. If he would have called the police, it would have been safer for HIM, but would have made things worse for her. She needed time to think. He should be commended for his bravery!

    Computers are not the only thing that locks up in a infinite loop. The brain does as well. It gets bombarded with too many things to think about. That was clearly her case. If he would have called the police, she would have been even more overloaded.

  37. Dhewco October 29, 2014 at 5:57 pm #

    I’m sorry, I don’t think of it as ‘keeping’ the child. It’s not like he offered to be her father! Sheltering a child for two days is unusual, yes…but it’s not ‘keeping’ the child. That implies connotations that aren’t evident to me. I’m wondering if this attitude is something that I’m missing since I’m not a biological parent.

  38. Nic October 29, 2014 at 6:08 pm #

    It has nothing to do with whether he was a 50 year old male or a woman. This girl’s information was all over the media. This person should have called the authorities. The fact that the father doesn’t want to find out any more details, if the media are reporting this correctly, is bizarre.

  39. E October 29, 2014 at 9:31 pm #

    @lollipoplover – you are just projecting the bit “what ifs” that this forum is always talking about: “what if someone carjacks the car” “what if the engine stalls and the car gets hot”.

    So “what if” the child said all those things and they were not teach the kid they can get what they want thru manipulation? Or what if the child said all those things and they WERE true. The stranger can’t fix that problem in 40 hours or 4 days anyway.

    Yes a child has rights — but a stranger is not the person to evaluate if a single one of those have been broken.

    Again – I would be elated and relieved if I was her parent. I wouldn’t want to have the whole thing documented in the news either.

  40. no rest for the weary October 29, 2014 at 10:03 pm #

    “She needed time to think.”

    While 1,000 people are actively searching for her?

    Here’s my take on it. A couple of hours, okay. An overnight? That’s not something I would want someone to do for my kid, no matter what my kid was saying about how I wouldn’t let them have a chocolate bar, was beating them senseless every day, etc.

    Maybe back in the day when a kid wouldn’t necessarily be missed in the first 12 – 24 hours… like back when kids might run along with friends and take off and walkabout for a while without anyone knowing their exact whereabouts… a kid might “run away” without their parents knowing, encounter a kindly stranger, have a cuppa, sort it out, a touching story.

    But nowadays, a child goes missing for a half hour and the police are alerted. If nothing else, it just speaks to a kind of insane willingness to allow hundreds of people to fruitlessly search for a day and a half because a child… what? Didn’t want to go home? Needed time to come to her senses? At 11?

    Maybe if she were 15 or 16 and had driven off, or lied about being at a friend’s… I don’t know, an 11 year old child who is obviously healthy doesn’t need time to think, she needs to understand that she’s inconvenienced a $%!# of a lot of people pulling a stunt like that, and the man who took her in ought not have been complicit, in my view.

    I really don’t care what adult “harboured” her for that amount of time. I don’t immediately imagine this man would mean her harm, and still don’t, but I think it was unnecessarily harmful to the community to not communicate to the authorities that she had been found… immediately.

  41. Puzzled October 30, 2014 at 12:02 am #

    >Yes a child has rights — but a stranger is not the person to >evaluate if a single one of those have been broken.

    Then who is?

  42. Earth.W October 30, 2014 at 12:06 am #

    I see it being ‘rich’ for people to say what he should or should not have done in a certain period of time when we do not know what happened. We don’t know what she said or was behaving. I think he handled it as best as he could.

  43. baby-paramedic October 30, 2014 at 12:20 am #

    The only readily available “authorities” to call on a weekend for such a case would be 000. And most often they aren’t going to do much, because most of the kids this young who are on the streets don’t want to go back home, and will go to ground the moment the coppers show up.

    This particular kid was being searched for, but you wouldn’t know that unless you happened to be looking on the news websites (it wasn’t a big reported story, I don’t think it even made national news). So if this guy watched only the national news, or didn’t happen to watch the news, he wouldn’t know that this particular runaway was being searched for.

    There are parents out there who won’t notice or care about a child missing for days. How do you sort out those kids from the ones who are being searched for? Loads more of the kids on the streets I used to work with (I worked in outreach)didn’t have parents that cared than ones who did.

    If there was 24hour available coverage of Anglicare or similar perhaps he would have called earlier.

    Almost EVERYTHING in Australia shuts down over the weekend. Even most facilities at hospitals aren’t available.

  44. E October 30, 2014 at 8:17 am #


    Then who is?

    Someone who has more than one side of the story.

    And since it appears there is no worries about her home life, it seems as though none of her “rights” were violated anyway. So if the adult who sheltered had arrived at that conclusion, they would have been incorrect.

  45. Donna October 30, 2014 at 8:52 am #

    Your privileged bias is showing folks. Most here are assuming either that ALL children are cared for or that this man should have somehow KNOWN that this one was (without knowing what she was telling him). In the US, there are hundreds of thousands of kids either living on the street completely or so unwanted that nobody cares if they disappear for a time. I’m sure these kids exist in decent numbers in Australia too. Calling 911 and placing the kid in foster care is extremely ineffectual in these cases. The kids would rather live on the street than in state custody and bolt the first chance they get. Private organizations have a higher success rate and he called one of those as soon as he could.

    Or this was just a man with great insight into kids and put the kid he knew, however briefly, before the parents who are total strangers to him. My guess is that he ran away a time or two himself as a child. He understands that the girl is safe with him but highly likely to take off, and possibly end up someplace less nice, if police/parents start banging down his door before she is ready to go home. And, while parents may leave their kids to cool off at a friends’ house for a couple days, none are going to knowingly leave them with total strangers. They absolutely would have been pounding on his door to force her to come home the second he called.

    I’m very perplexed as to why people assume he knew she was being searched for. They could be looking for a kid in my town right now for all I know. I turned off the Amber Alerts on my phone. I don’t have cable and, even if I did, our news is out of Atlanta and may or may not cover a runaway here. Depends on whether it is a slow news day in Atlanta or not. I don’t subscribe to the paper. I may listen to a local radio station if I happen to go someplace in the car, but I am as likely to listen to my ipod and often change stations when talking starts anyway. Unless the story goes national or someone posts it on their Facebook news feed or I hear it from someone personally, I am going to be oblivious.

  46. lollipoplover October 30, 2014 at 9:05 am #

    What story are you reading?

    The father said this:
    “Obviously a lot of people feel he should have been in touch sooner but the most important thing is that she did eventually get in touch with us and he had a hand in encouraging her to do that,” he said.
    When his daughter returned home on Monday night she explained to her family that she had felt safe with the stranger.”

    He encouraged her to reunite with her family, which she did. He listened to her and respected her wishes vs. calling the police and sending her home against her will. She felt safe there. No, this stranger can’t fix the problems in her home life. But he showed compassion and encouraged her get back in contact with her family which even the parents admit is a good outcome.

  47. E October 30, 2014 at 9:29 am #

    @Donna — I understand that some people might not be tapped into the media as much as others…but we’re not talking about a guy sitting at home alone, we’re talking about and adult who was looking after a child…who does have a family unit of some type. Perhaps you make an effort to see if someone is looking for them? Are you suggesting that if you found yourself in the same situation (taking in an 11 year old) you wouldn’t try to determine if someone is looking for them? Given that all the examples of runways and uncaring or non-searching parents were NOT the situation at hand, perhaps making an effort to determine that was advisable?

    @lollipoplover. Yes, I know what the parents said to the media. I have commended them several times and acknowledged that her return home is the most important thing. Clearly I disagree about what the “right” actions were in regard to the adult who was sheltering her.

    Again – this forum is full of admonishments for strangers who stick their nose in other people’s parenting. This is a very similar case imo.

    As far as “against her will”. Is that how we deal with 11 year olds? We shouldn’t be expecting them to do anything against their will?

    Anyway, she’s home and she’s safe. Let’s hope that whatever issues they have between parent/child can be resolved w/o another situation like this.

  48. Donna October 30, 2014 at 10:21 am #

    “who was looking after a child…who does have a family unit of some type”

    Not all kids have family units of any type! I currently have 4 CPS cases where the kids bolted from CPS custody and are whereabouts unknown right now (and 3-4 others who would do the same in a second if not in locked facilities). NONE of them have a “family unit of some type.” CPS is somewhat looking for them occasionally here and there, but nobody else gives two craps about them.

    “Are you suggesting that if you found yourself in the same situation (taking in an 11 year old) you wouldn’t try to determine if someone is looking for them?”

    Depends on the situation. If she comes across as a snot-nosed little brat who is just pulling a stunt, probably. If I believe that she is dedicated to running away and is going to bolt if I contact the parents or the police, I would give her a chance to make the decision to go back herself. A weekend to do that is not unreasonable. I’m far more concerned about her than her parents. I’ve seen what happens to kids on the street and it isn’t pretty.

    “Given that all the examples of runways and uncaring or non-searching parents were NOT the situation at hand”

    But, unless you were recording their conversations, how exactly do you know what he knew? Yes, it is easy for you to judge sitting here knowing all the facts, but life isn’t a novel written from the omniscient viewpoint. We only know what we know, not what the parents know and what the police know.

  49. lollipoplover October 30, 2014 at 10:50 am #

    “Again – this forum is full of admonishments for strangers who stick their nose in other people’s parenting. This is a very similar case imo.”

    Showing empathy to a runaway is not the same as calling CPS on someone who lets their kids play at a park alone.

    Do you think it would be better if he showed her no attention, didn’t want to get involved or *stick his nose in other people’s parenting* and let her move on to roll the dice with perhaps a not so nice stranger? Are we that hardened that we turn away or immediately call the police on unattended children without lending them an ear?

    Dealing with 11 year-old girls is tough. She’s worse than my teenager and gives me gray hairs. Sometimes there is no way to reason with her because I just don’t *understand*. Just this morning we argued over what she was wearing to school. It is pajama day. I hate pajama day. She wanted to wear a nightgown like her friends (who also have the same nightgown-twining!) agreed to do. I told her this wasn’t a good idea, she bikes to school and the nightgown will ride up and show her underwear. Not appropriate, We don’t show our underwear. And I don’t care what her friends are wearing.
    We argued.
    We compromised.
    She wore the nightgown with shorts under it and warm boots on her feet. She looks ridiculous but no tears and off she went. I’m slowly realizing that my parenting relationship with her improves when I actually listen to her perspective and value her feelings and opinion.
    Just like this man did for this runaway.

  50. Donna October 30, 2014 at 10:55 am #

    And yes, I would absolutely want someone to contact me the second they found my child if I was in these parents situation. But that desire is based solely on what is best for me – it is best for me to not be worried about my child any more – and isn’t considering what is best for my child at all. It may, in fact, not be best for my child for someone to contact me immediately. I can certainly see why someone who is dealing with the situation from the stance of the child, would make a different decision than someone dealing with the situation from the stance of the parents.

    “Again – this forum is full of admonishments for strangers who stick their nose in other people’s parenting. This is a very similar case imo.”

    He was allowing the child to make her own decision as to returning home. Not sure how that can be construed into sticking his nose into other people’s parenting. He wasn’t saying that their parenting was good, bad or mediocre. He wasn’t addressing their parenting at all. He was responding to the child, not them.

  51. E October 30, 2014 at 11:02 am #

    @Donna — that’s the point. You work on facts in that situation, not possibilities. If 1000 people in the area were looking for her, it could not have been difficult to walk around, pick up a newspaper, do an internet search (use the library if you do not have access) to find out that there were people FRANTICALLY looking for her.

    Yes, OF COURSE there are other possibilities, but it appears that with minimal effort, you could start to gather accurate information.

  52. E October 30, 2014 at 11:10 am #

    Showing empathy to a runaway is not the same as calling CPS on someone who lets their kids play at a park alone.

    According to who? I mean, we’re trusting this person’s judgement, but someone at a park can’t possibly be well meaning and concerned based on behavior they observe?

    Do you think it would be better if he showed her no attention, didn’t want to get involved or *stick his nose in other people’s parenting* and let her move on to roll the dice with perhaps a not so nice stranger? Are we that hardened that we turn away or immediately call the police on unattended children without lending them an ear?

    Right because that’s what I said. Those aren’ the only 2 options — but you know that.

  53. Puzzled October 30, 2014 at 11:34 am #

    >Someone who has more than one side of the story.

    And would this someone not be a stranger also?

    In addition, I doubt you’d be complaining if he found a way to return her to her parents, even if he knew only the parents’ side.

    Is it so obvious that children belong with their parents, even if abuse is alleged?

    As for the question about whether or not 11 year olds should be made to do things against their will – I say no. Children are people, and that carries certain rights.

  54. Donna October 30, 2014 at 11:47 am #

    E – You are missing the point. He doesn’t have the luxury of knowing everything you know now after the fact when he is making his decisions. HE knows only what the child is telling him at that time. That could be the facts or that could be a complete fabrication that bears absolutely no relation whatsoever to the actual facts. YOU have absolutely no idea what this child told him originally.

    I also don’t agree with your concept that a child falling into my lap requires detective work on my part to try to get to the actual facts. If the kid says “my parents are dead and I ran away from an abusive foster home,” am I supposed to presume the child a liar until proven otherwise? Turn her away if I really don’t feel like playing detective that weekend?

    Or even if she told the truth, when a kid says, “if you contact my parents or the police, I will leave,” am I supposed to lock her in the house and call them anyway? Hope that she is pulling my leg and call them anyway? Not care if she runs to someplace that is possibly less safe as long as nobody questions my choices?

  55. E October 30, 2014 at 12:23 pm #

    Those are a LOT of ifs there. If the guy had read this article (which would presumably be simple for him to find any number of ways, some information is available. You don’t have to be a detective to look at a newspaper or local news website do you? There was a lot of info readily available.

    And who know maybe he did (since we’re making up things we have no clue about) and figured he didn’t care if the parents were living a nightmare.

  56. E October 30, 2014 at 12:25 pm #

    sorry – meant to post a link, but I’ve closed the window, it was a very detailed article about the family and the massive search that involved people and police.

  57. E October 30, 2014 at 12:26 pm #

    …and was published during the time she was missing

  58. Angela October 30, 2014 at 12:39 pm #

    I moved out of the house at 16. My mother allowed it, signing away guardianship, and my father had been uninvolved for years because I had disconnected from him (long story). I had stayed at other’s houses before; not strangers, but some of them were people I didn’t know well. I had run away before – I was gone 2 weeks when I called to discuss the terms of my return. It wasn’t until she heard the words, ‘I’m not coming back,’ that she threatened to call the police. I lived in three different places my senior year of high school because when one option went south the very last thing I wanted to do was go back home to her so I sought another option. I moved over a thousand miles away at 17.

    I graduated high school, got an associate’s degree, got married, had children. Before I took control of my life I didn’t care if I lived or died. If I had been forced to move back home and live in the same situation I’d been in all along, I don’t know if that would have changed.

    I have had this long-held dream to open a children’s home. Not the typical, ‘you stay here until a home accepts you’ orphanage, something more along the lines of ‘this is your home.’ There’d be dorm rooms, all education would take place on-site, the kids would be responsible for the cooking, cleaning and a good deal of the maintenance. There would be room set aside for ‘acute’ cases such as this – a safe place for a minor to stay a few days while they/their families/the law work through the situation. I’d hire others to handle the day-to-day operation and I’d hang around as a parental figure, same as I do with my own kids. At one point I even had a for-sale property picked out.

    All of this would necessitate serious changes in law, however. It would require that the minors agree to certain terms, but minors are not allowed to sign contracts. It would require that a minor’s control over themselves be acknowledged, at least to some degree, but as it currently stands this requires a hearing before the child leaves home (emancipation). I agree that 11 years old is on the extreme young end of someone I’d view this as a feasible option for, but maybe the minor would have been reported as found much sooner if there was not the fear of police immediately showing up and forcing them to return home or to some other governmentally-approved location.

    In this situation, if I could call the parents and say, “Your child is staying at my house because they are not comfortable returning home,” without believing I’d be immediately arrested and/or the child immediately returned, I’d do it in a heartbeat. As long as the child is safe, those things can take a little time. In the current legal climate I don’t know what I’d do.

  59. Donna October 30, 2014 at 1:07 pm #

    E – Your posts are full of assumptions and you are questioning other people for presenting alternative ifs? Rich. The fact is that you have absolutely no idea what went on here, what was told to this man by this child, what the man’s thought process was or why he choose not to call. Yet, you keep insisting that your version is correct and he was definitely wrong.

    “You don’t have to be a detective to look at a newspaper or local news website do you?”

    Again, back to these assumptions of yours. I don’t even know where to buy my local newspaper anymore. It certainly isn’t sold anywhere that I generally go. Maybe it is still sold in one of those little machines downtown. Don’t know. I haven’t read the physical paper in 10+ years. It would actually take so doing to find one.

    I used to read the online version occasionally, however, our local news website went pay-only access a few months ago. Is he now obligated to pay to search to see if an article is in the local paper? Or maybe he doesn’t have a computer. Or the internet. Yes, these are ifs, but so is the fact that website is free and that he has a computer and internet access. Your ifs are not more definitively true than anyone else’s. My point is that we don’t KNOW if it was that easy to get the information that you insist was right at his fingertips. It could have been. It could not have been.

    This is a problem that fell into his lap; not one he sought out. I just don’t see any obligation to appease the parents over the child. His primary loyalty was toward the child and I respect that. It isn’t a matter of not caring about the parents but of caring about the child.

    I don’t understand why you insist that he MUST view this situation from the parents’ point of view and act accordingly. There are two competing interests here – a child who does not want her parents to know where she is and parents who want to know where their child is. He cannot possibly please both of them. Why is the only acceptable answer to please the parents?

  60. BM October 30, 2014 at 1:12 pm #

    Checked the street mentioned in article – wow, I used to live 200m from there for 7 years. Its a quiet area.

    People are making a lot of assumptions from just what was in this one article on it, but its nice to see some of you get it. Its not a black and white situation for what you should do. Not every kid wants to be returned to their home. Was he simply offering a place for her to shelter until SHE came to the realisation that home might not be that bad? Its what is sounds like. He didnt jump the gun and call Child Services the instant there was an unaccompanied child in public, which seems to be what a lot of you are suggesting should happen.
    I had a girlfriend that worked at a homeless shelter IN THIS VERY AREA, and she had some stories about the people that came to spend the night. If she was adament about not going home, and her only other option was shelter or sleeping rough, then the guy did her a favour by offering her space for the night.

  61. E October 30, 2014 at 1:22 pm #

    @Donna — If you look back at my posting on this topic, the only time I introduced IFs were when other people did so. I have admitted countless times that don’t know what happened, how the girl behaved, what she said, etc. We DO know that an 11 year old child was missing for parts of 3 days (2 nights) and it’s clear that her parents did everything that they could do do locate her. In addition, the police were involved with a search. It created great distress for the parents and and effort and expense for the community. Those are the facts.

    Every single grocery store I visit has newspapers for sale, libraries have internet…just about anyone you might bump into on the street (or in the grocery store they went to) has a phone that can do this. Google news has dozens of articles (non fee based). I would hope that anyone that is sheltering a child would be expend the minimal energy to see if someone was looking for her and then let them know.

    Clearly that’s not a universally held thought. That’s fine.

  62. Jen (P.) October 30, 2014 at 1:31 pm #

    Interesting story. My initial reaction was that it is damn weird for someone to shelter a strange kid for that long without trying to contact anyone. But Donna’s comment about privilege bias is probably on point. It’s not something I can imagine myself doing, but no doubt there are situations where it’s not an unreasonable course of action.

    I don’t know about this though: “There are two competing interests here – a child who does not want her parents to know where she is and parents who want to know where their child is. . . . Why is the only acceptable answer to please the parents?” . . . . Isn’t the answer to that because the parents are legally responsible for the child? Assuming for the sake of argument that he knew (or at least should have known) that the parents were frantically searching for their daughter, I think he has a moral (and maybe legal) duty to tell them.

  63. Puzzled October 30, 2014 at 2:06 pm #

    Angela – are you familiar with John Holt’s book on the legal rights of children? It sounds like the changes you’re asking for are quite similar to what he proposed.

    Donna – right on! I love your question about why only the needs of the parents are considered.

    Once you phrase it that way, in terms of competing interests, I begin to wonder if Coase’s theorem might apply somehow – and then realize that the transaction costs are massive, making your point unassailable.

  64. Jen (P.) October 30, 2014 at 2:24 pm #

    @Puzzled . . . “As for the question about whether or not 11 year olds should be made to do things against their will – I say no. Children are people, and that carries certain rights.”

    Really??? How would this work in practice? My 11yo doesn’t like to do chores. But we make her do things like unload the dishwasher and sweep the floors – against her will sometimes. If she were to run away from home because she thinks she’s being used for slave labor, should she be allowed to refuse to return?

  65. no rest for the weary October 30, 2014 at 3:11 pm #

    If we’re putting everyone’s needs on the table, how about considering the needs of the community as well?

    There’s the parent, there’s the child, there’s the guy who is helping the child, and there’s the community.

    In this case, it would seem that the child’s “needs” (maybe more like wants, really) were all that were considered for 40 hours.

    It wasn’t just her parents frantically looking for her. It was law enforcement (that’s a lot of man-hours), it was hundreds of volunteers from the community, with flashlights, looking in every damned trash bin.

    That’s a lot of effort. Like I said before, if it were back in the days when even a well-heeled child could go “missing” for even an overnight without the Army Reserves being brought in, then fine. If this story had been about a child whose PARENTS were concerned and law enforcement and the community had NOT gotten involved for nearly two days, well, I guess then you do have to weigh the parents with the child and figure out what will ultimately work best for all of them, and in this case, I do agree that the child’s voluntary return home is optimal. BUT. Perhaps there can be a way (again, if law enforcement and an army of volunteers weren’t involved already) to contact the parents to give them the heads-up that the kid is on their way home, safe, give us a few more hours, she’s happy and eating chocolate (that she wasn’t allowed to eat at home), she’ll come back soon.

    However. In this case as it was, this was not an option, in my view. And this child, bless her heart, this obviously very willful child who was NOT being abused at home or “not missed” when she left, is safe, but is she getting it that this was a real stunt she pulled? That this wasn’t just about her and her parents? It was about the community, too.

  66. Angela October 30, 2014 at 4:30 pm #

    @Jen (P.)- I agree with Puzzled re: “As for the question about whether or not 11 year olds should be made to do things against their will – I say no. Children are people, and that carries certain rights.”

    How would it work in practice? I imagine in much the same way it does now. My best guess:

    90 (or more) out of a hundred kids never seriously consider running away. They may threaten to, but pointing out that chores/school work is expected in exchange for cable TV, cell phones, toys, rides to see friends, not to mention room & board, will usually get them back on the right track.

    9 of the remaining 10 will run away only to return in short order, tail between their legs, when they realize just how hard life on one’s own really is, or that Suzie’s parents expect chores to be done also, as do Aunt Tricia and Uncle Mike.

    That last one in that hundred may actually move out. The outcome could be good – staying with a friend or another relative – or it could be bad – living on the streets or crashing with unknown people.

    The thing I believe we disagree on is whether the numbers will change with a change in the law. I don’t believe there would be any significant change. Because of this, I believe opting for the rights of the child trump parents’ emotional reactions.

  67. Angela October 30, 2014 at 4:35 pm #

    @Puzzled – I have heard of the book, but never read it. While I read fiction quite profusely, I prefer my non-fiction to be short-form. Gatto’s ‘7 Lesson Schoolteacher’ hits pretty close to my limit. 😛

  68. Donna October 30, 2014 at 5:01 pm #

    “Assuming for the sake of argument that he knew (or at least should have known) that the parents were frantically searching for their daughter, I think he has a moral (and maybe legal) duty to tell them.”

    I still don’t get the insistence that this guy’s moral duty belongs to the parents, whom he has never met, and not the child, who he has befriended. Personally, I think that it is just because you are parents and can only relate to the parents in this scenario and not the child.

    Did you never have an adult friend as a child who would keep your secrets regardless? I certainly did. While I do imagine that she would have sold me out eventually if I had ever pulled a stunt like this, it would have taken longer than the one day this guy had. Sounds to me like this guy was just being a good friend to a kid who needed one at the moment.

    Again, I’m not saying that, as the parent, I would even be as happy with this guy as these parents are. However, as an outside observer, I respect his loyalty to the child and I can see why he did what he did.

  69. Donna October 30, 2014 at 5:06 pm #

    “but is she getting it that this was a real stunt she pulled? That this wasn’t just about her and her parents? It was about the community, too.”

    I do agree with this. I do hope that the parents are impressing on this child that she put a lot of people to needless worry and trouble and her decision to do so was selfish.

  70. Donna October 30, 2014 at 5:19 pm #

    Also, don’t get me wrong. I don’t think that this guy did the only “right” thing. I would have totally understood if he had turned this girl in the second he found her. Or at any time in between. I don’t think that would have been a wrong decision either.

    I simply don’t agree that an adult’s loyalty must always be with the other adults in the situation or that the adults somehow have a superior right to have their feelings respected. I think mostly this comes down to how he viewed himself – as the child’s friend or just someone helping out. I guarantee that my child’s friends put her feelings and wants before mine every single time. I don’t see why there should be an age-limit on the loyalty of friendship.

  71. no rest for the weary October 30, 2014 at 9:15 pm #

    “Loyalty of friendship,” in my view, does not apply when a child who has not even yet begun to menstruate runs off and spends two nights on the lam because she was cross about a chocolate bar and had SO many community resources devoted to finding her while she happily read books.

    I would take a look at that child, at her radiant glowing skin, at her well-nourished frame, at her unmarred arms and legs and her delight in reading books and GET HER BACK HOME TO HER LOVING FAMILY.

  72. Puzzled October 30, 2014 at 11:43 pm #

    Jen P – What would you do with me if you offered me room, board, advice, unconditional acceptance, etc. – and asked that I unload the dishwasher in exchange, and I then refused to unload the dishwasher? You’d, I guess, make some judgment as to the value of having me in your house, then adjust the rules accordingly – say, I have to either unload the dishwasher, or accept some sort of consequence if I choose not to.

    Which is my basic point – children have the same rights as adults, not more, not less.

    Here’s Holt’s idea, which I basically agree with. Parenting it, the vast majority of the time, a mutually beneficial arrangement, and one agreed to by both parties, in general if not in specifics. It’s a good institution. We should keep it. We should also keep childhood as an institution. But if a child is of an age where they can make and communicate decisions, and decide that they wish to take on the rights and responsibilities of adulthood, they should not be prohibited from doing so simply by virtue of age. Making this decision means they are free to interact with society as adults.

    What if they regret that decision? They can seek child status again – but their parents have a legal right not to accept them, in which case they can seek out anyone else wishing to take them. By default, the parent-child relationship falls to biology, but even today not always. Holt’s idea just extends that and eliminates year-specific rights. Anyone can be an adult, and anyone can be a child – provided, in the latter case, they can find a parent.

  73. Puzzled October 30, 2014 at 11:46 pm #

    No rest – I don’t understand. Do we acquire duties when others act? If the community, by virtue of acting panicky and ‘calling out the Reserves’ everytime someone is missing, thereby acquires rights, what’s the limit on this manner of acquiring rights? If I go looking for you, investing hundreds of hours, must you present yourself? If I invest a few hundred hours wooing a woman, must she sleep with me?

  74. baby-paramedic October 31, 2014 at 12:05 am #

    privilege bias

    Not everyone can read. Or is confident in their reading ability.
    Not everyone has internet at home.
    Not everyone has a tv (I don’t).
    And hell, not everyone has a decent IQ.
    Not everyone has a disposable income, some people are down to the line, or have their income managed.
    Not everyone has a loving home to go to. Or even a safe one.

    The number of kids sleeping rough would horrify those lucky enough to live in nice areas, with nice people. I think the youngest that has pulled a knife on me was 11. She was that desperate. The youngest intentional illicit overdoses I have dealt with were 12 or 13. The youngest girl whoring herself I have dealt with was 12. These are real kids too.

    So, I think this is the first time I have ever said this “Check your privilege”

  75. E October 31, 2014 at 9:17 am #

    I think that when someone compares a runaway child with 1000 people+police looking for her to a pair of adults dating…the thread is pretty much done.

  76. E October 31, 2014 at 9:20 am #

    @puzzled — I think most parents would be “panicky” if their 11 year old was missing for an overnight. Despite the countless posts about parents that don’t care, there are FAR more that do. Searching for a child that has gone missing is NOT an overreaction. I think anyone here would welcome offers of assistance in that effort.

  77. Puzzled October 31, 2014 at 11:04 am #

    I was responding to the idea that he owes something to the community because they came out to help. My point is that helpful actions can’t create a duty. As for the duty to the parents, Donna gave a better answer than I could.

  78. E October 31, 2014 at 3:20 pm #

    Right and my point is that dating is not “helpful actions”, it’s a relationship between adults.

    Ignoring the impact of the child’s search (if you are willing to believe the search for her was somewhat easy to discover) created a burden to many people (emotionally, time, and money) — but of course one could choose to ignore that. It’s just not a nice thing to do.

  79. no rest for the weary October 31, 2014 at 7:02 pm #

    “If the community, by virtue of acting panicky and ‘calling out the Reserves’ everytime someone is missing, thereby acquires rights, what’s the limit on this manner of acquiring rights?”

    The community did not used to react in this way 40 years ago, it is true. And that is why I related my earlier comments to the cultural context. If there is not a general understanding that currently in the Western world, middle-class, white and well-cared-for children trigger an enormous machine of organized effort to find them, then I guess I don’t know what to say.

    Debating whether that response is appropriate is another discussion. I am simply offering it as a fact of our lives in this current environment, when a child of 11 whose parents alert police of her disappearance then doesn’t turn up for two nights, it’s, um, going to have a big impact on the community.

  80. Puzzled October 31, 2014 at 11:53 pm #

    I’m not all that interested in whether or not the community response is appropriate. I don’t have a problem with it. I do have a problem with the idea that the community thereby acquires the right to have this guy turn the kid in, in order to free them from a task they voluntarily undertook.

  81. no rest for the weary November 1, 2014 at 8:33 pm #

    Well, I wonder if there could have been a strategy that would have been supportive of the man, the girl, her parents, AND the community then.

    The two-overnights thing seems a bit lopsided away from the community and the parents.

  82. Catriona November 2, 2014 at 12:33 am #

    I am totally a free range believer however I think in todays day and age this man was taking a huge risk. Even I who doesn’t think like that thought why would a 50yo man take a young girl home even though it turns out he was just being nice. The girl apparently threatened to run again if he went to the police so why not wait until she was asleep and then call them.

  83. Puzzled November 2, 2014 at 2:00 am #

    I don’t see it as lopsided at all – she’s a human being and has a right to decide where to be. She’s not obligated to return just because people are looking for her.

    Previously, the claim was that it was a dispute between the girl and her parents, and the man should automatically side with the parents because…adults gotta adult, or whatever. Now some amorphous group called ‘the community’ is supposedly also entitled to her return because they looked for her. I say she alone has the right to decide where she feels like being, and he can either help her, or not, but fooling her as has been suggested (wait until she’s asleep, then call the police) or dragging her back, sight unseen, or not proper choices.

  84. Catriona November 2, 2014 at 3:47 am #

    I don’t see it as fooling her to wait until she is asleep but the girl is 11 not 15 or 16 if she were I think it would have been different. Sadly today’s society is so hyper vigilant that they were automatically going to think he was after something. If he called the police and said she is asleep and doesn’t want to go home but is safe then the police can come and assess the situation.