Half of All 5-10 Year Olds Have NEVER Played on Their OWN Street

Dear Readers — Here is an extraordinary nhehtiekda
from the Times of London, “We Approach Others’ Children at Our Peril.” It traces how “what began 25 years ago as an understandable desire to raise awareness of child abuse is turning into something extremely distructive — an instinctive suspicion of any encounter between grown-ups and unrelated children.”

This fear has lead not only to parents locking their children indoors — as indicated by the statistic in my headline (from England) — it is also changing the very relationship between children and grown-ups. As notes the article, by Jenni Russell, this generation of children has “been taught from the time they start school that all strangers may be dangerous and all men are threats. So children have become frightened of adults and adults — terrified that any interaction of theirs might be misinterpreted — have become equally frightened of them.”

Men: Has there been a time when you were thinking of helping a child, but held back, for fear you might be mistaken for a lecher, or worse? I’m curious about this.

Meantime, the takeaway point is this: When adults can’t approach a child without first second-guessing the consequences, and children think of all adults as potentially evil, we have a prescription for a stand-off. And that’s exactly what seems to be happening. Kids can’t ask grown-ups for help, grown-ups can’t volunteer it. Who is safer as a result?

No one, of course. All in the name of child safety.  — Lenore

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46 Responses to Half of All 5-10 Year Olds Have NEVER Played on Their OWN Street

  1. Mathman August 18, 2009 at 4:50 am #

    I have had an instance where I was going to help a child and thought twice about it. I was shopping at Wal-Mart when I saw a child hiding inside some clothing racks. A moment later the store announced that there was a missing child. Instead of getting the child out, I decided that I had better track down an employee and let her know where I had seen the child.

  2. Gabe August 18, 2009 at 4:58 am #

    While I may pause to think for a moment, I don’t let that stop me from interacting with children. It’s only those times where I might have to physically interact with them where I make sure that it’s clear my motives are nothing but being helpful and proper.

  3. toyfoto August 18, 2009 at 5:34 am #

    I was just having a discussion about “safety”
    with my five-year-old. Thanks to preschool she’s already spouting “Don’t Talk to StrangersTM.”

    I’m not worried though. She can’t really help herself when it comes to talking with strangers. The best part of her has a ton of curiosity.

  4. John August 18, 2009 at 5:34 am #

    I had an encounter just this past weekend where another adult male was going to help my child on a swing, in front of me, and I had a first instinct to step in and help my child myself.

    I did, however, simply sit back and let the other adult help my child and I smiled inside for a second as I realized how conditioned I was to be wary of other adults interacting with my kids.

    I will point out one thing, though: I live now in a city I did not grow up in myself, and I am inherently less trustful of other adults here. Im certain that if I was in the area I grew up in, I would not be as cautious.

  5. Elizabeth August 18, 2009 at 6:30 am #

    I heard the story on this blog of a 2 year old who wandered outside without her caregiver’s knowledge and drowned despite the fact that a man saw her before she got to the pond. He didn’t stop to help her even though he instinctively wanted to because he was afraid he would be viewed as a “bad stranger” out to do her harm.

    I told my husband about the event and he confessed that he too is scared to speak to or interact with children he doesn’t know when our own children are not present because he has the same fears: that someone will see him and assume that because he is a man he must want to do harm to the child. It actually makes him really angry (and me too) that his good, positive, helping, fatherly instincts are viewed as suspect just because he is male. It’s wrong and doesn’t keep anyone safer, you are absolutely right about that.

  6. Carey August 18, 2009 at 6:59 am #

    toyfoto: You might ask your daughter what a stranger looks like. I suspect they all wear dodgy overcoats or something.

  7. KateNonymous August 18, 2009 at 7:04 am #

    In the past few years I have had two occasions to offer help to a strange child. In both, I made sure that I first started talking to the child from across the street, so that they would not see me as an immediate looming threat.

    In the first case, the child was a six-year-old girl who had been left in the apartment by her parents and had decided to go out and look for them. She came over to our building, and she and I sat on the lawn and waited until the police showed up (which, by the way, took nearly a half hour after Mr. Nonymous called them).

    In the second case, a boy of about 8 fell off his bike, hard. I asked if he was okay, and he looked at me in terror and said, “I’m not allowed to talk to strangers.” I said, “That was a hard fall, are you okay?” and he screamed, “I’m not allowed to talk to strangers!” and threw himself back on the bike and pedaled off furiously, looking back once to make sure that I wasn’t following him.

    I really feel bad for that little boy. Someone taught him to fear anyone he didn’t know, and to be unable to pay attention to signals. That’s not going to help him in the long run.

  8. Marion August 18, 2009 at 7:10 am #

    One of the ‘Grumpy Old Men’ (BBC programme) tells all about how he was fingered a paedophile for playing a pulling faces game with a little boy in the subway (and there’s a lot freerangekids stuff in this bit as well)


  9. RobC August 18, 2009 at 7:11 am #

    “Has there been a time when you were thinking of helping a child, but held back, for fear you might be mistaken for a lecher, or worse?”

    Yes. A few months ago, I was at the playground with my kids. I needed to use the bathroom, and as I was about to leave, I saw a young boy (probably around three or four) in one of the cubicles in some obvious distress. I wanted to help him, but there was no way in hell I was going to approach a little boy who I didn’t know, while he was crying with his pants down around his ankles. I probably would have been lynched on the spot.

    I did manage to find the kid’s older siblings and let them know their brother was in there and needed some help.

  10. kherbert August 18, 2009 at 7:44 am #

    I’m a teacher so that lowers my barriers both for helping kids and correcting them. I will offer help to a child just like I will to an adult who needs it. As long as they are conscious they have the right to refuse.

    I’ve had kids accept, had kids ask me to go get their parent, had kids refuse. I’ve offered adult my first aid kit had it accepted, had them look at me like I had two heads.

  11. Elizabeth August 18, 2009 at 7:57 am #

    That’s a great clip from ‘Grumpy Old Men’, thanks for posting it, I really enjoyed it!

  12. divedeeper August 18, 2009 at 8:32 am #

    “Has there been a time when you were thinking of helping a child, but held back, for fear you might be mistaken for a lecher, or worse?”

    Yes, I don’t have any specific stories but because I’m a rather large man (6’6) I take extra precautions to not freak kids or their overprotective parents out.

    Sadly, I was told by a good friend that they wouldn’t let me (or any man) care for their children alone because of these fears or even the accusation of improprieties. Since that I haven’t offered to care for other kids when my wife isn’t available to avoid these fears in others

  13. Kylie August 18, 2009 at 8:55 am #

    I love that clip Marion. Thanks for sharing it!

  14. Carrie Burrows August 18, 2009 at 9:13 am #

    While I definitely think kids should play outside, I don’t know that they need to play in my yard or driveway where I’m liable for what happens to them whether they’re trespassing or not.

  15. Jay August 18, 2009 at 10:07 am #

    It isn’t any wonder that “strange” men are scared to help kids.

    My daughter’s godfather has a different skin tone than she does. He is a very dark African American, and she is a very blond blue eyed English Canadian. He had her at the mall when she was 3 and someone reported him to store security for kidnapping!

    They were just walking down the mall hand in hand with my daughter as happy as could be to be with her “uncle”!

    In the end security released him when his wife showed up with the medical proxy I had left with them. It included a photocopy of my drivers licence and listed thier names and gave permission for them to seek medical treatment for my daughter if needed. I guess security figured that if I trusted them to OK medical treatment I trusted them to wall down the mall together!

    Imagine if he HAD actually been a “stranger” helping her look for her ‘lost’ mom? What explaination would have been necessary? Would the police have been called? Would he still be in court? All because he was a man who was clearly not the child’s father walking down the mall.


  16. Celeste August 18, 2009 at 10:14 am #

    Back before I was a mother (about 4 years ago), I was driving home from work and saw a small boy walking down one of the very busy streets of my city. He looked about seven years old and frightened to death. I knew immediately that he needed help and figured that I’d better do it, knowing my intentions to be pure, rather than risk letting the wrong person help him. I got out of my car and approached him. He was nervous, but told me he had been riding the bus to go to his dad’s and he thought he’d missed his stop. He knew his dad lived near a Walmart but that was about it.

    Luckily I knew there was a Walmart just a couple miles back. So I offered to let the boy use my cellphone first to call his dad. There was no answer. At this point, this sweet, scared little boy and I broke all the “stranger danger” rules and he got in my car with me. We drove down to the Walmart and the boy said this looked like the right place. We then found a side street and located his dad’s condo. His father had been waiting outside and didn’t even look at me, let alone say anything about his son riding up in a strange car. I was rather shocked, but grateful that no one freaked out over the incident either.

  17. Heather August 18, 2009 at 10:16 am #

    A bit of a tangent, but somewhat related…

    “Has there been a time when you were thinking of helping a child, but HELD BACK, FOR FEAR you might be mistaken for a lecher, or worse?”

    I find that as a mom, I often overprotect or hover with my own kids not out of my own desire or need to do so, but because I fear the backlash from other adults. We live in such an age-divided society that any free-range activity on the part of kids is often directly translated into some sort of heinous parenting deficit. I hate myself every time I verbally or physically rein my children in just because I can feel those judging stares and worry about not only anonymous scorn but the real Nanny-State nutjobs who just might file a CYS complaint. My kids often pick up on my discomfort, too, and I find myself at a loss for what to tell them. And what kind of message am I sending, if they see me compromising our normal way of behaving just to avoid confrontation with (albeit grouchy) people?


  18. Sierra August 18, 2009 at 10:47 am #

    This reminded me of the controversy about British Airlines not allowing male passengers to sit next to children: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airline_sex_discrimination_policy_controversy

    It’s totally appalling, and I just want to take a moment to point out that the particular fear about children being with men isn’t a form of “reverse sexism” or special discrimination against men: it’s born from the same patriarchal woes feminists have been fighting for generations. At core, this fear aligns women with children, and keeps them in their place in the domestic sphere. Men are marked out as different and dangerous, keeping them away from kids, childrearing, and domestic life. It’s a paranoia that protects the status quo of power between the sexes, and across political and class lines. It’s much larger than the inidividual harm done to children, men and women as they’re taught to fear one another.

  19. MaeMae August 18, 2009 at 11:24 am #

    What?! They banned the backstroke? Whatever for? That was a great clip Marion. This post just makes me sad for all that children are missing out on.

  20. Kevin August 18, 2009 at 3:33 pm #

    I’m a father of two who is petrified of having any interactions with anyone else’s children. It’s not specifically that I am afraid of being accused of something, it’s just very deeply ingrained in me that if I say anything, I am Mr. Stranger Danger and the kids in question are _supposed_ to go running and screaming for help. The nicer and friendlier I would try to be, the more I would just feel like I was playing the part of an evil madman skillfully drawing them into my trap with my deception and lies.

    Interacting with a child in any way makes me feel like I’m doing something dirty and wrong.

    I think it’s partly because of this situation that I feel like something of a loner in my community (which is making my kids loners too). I feel isolated from everyone by a wall of distrust and fear. It’s not the way I wanted my life to be like.

  21. george.w August 18, 2009 at 4:08 pm #

    3 incidents. In the first, I was driving to the gym in winter, when I saw a toddler wearing only a diaper running down the street crying, with nobody around. I got out of the car and put my coat around the child. Instantly he calmed down, but what to do? No way in HELL was I putting that kid in my car. I abandoned my car with the keys in it, and walked the remaining 1 block to the gym (the direction from which the child had come) carrying the child. Made a bee line to the child care section and handed him to the nearest female… safe! Not the child, me. Turned out the kid had walked away from apartments next door and the father was frantic.

    Second incident: I was riding my bike to the bank. small child rolled out into the street in front of me on a wagon, apparently oblivious to the line of danger represented by cars on a pretty busy area. I told her to stay out of the street; the child looked up at me but said nothing. Looked around; was any adult watching this child? After a moment, a woman appeared so I rode on.

    After the bank, riding back, the whole area was full of cop cars; I was stopped and questioned. Because you know, child abductors usually ride bicycles or something. The cop told me that I had “terrified” the child. No doubt she was terrified, but ‘twern’t me that done it.

    Third incident: just last week. I was at the park riding my unicycle. Two small kids found this fascinating and peppered me with questions. I would love the chance to inspire a child to practice muscle-powered activity, but no way. I just sort of grunted and rode away without making eye contact with them.

    I’m only 52 and I can remember when it wasn’t that way.

  22. Katie August 18, 2009 at 6:59 pm #

    Somehow I doubt anyone could perpetrate anything sinister on a unicycle…

  23. Dave August 18, 2009 at 8:46 pm #

    Societies thrive when relationshios between people are healthy. When we look after one another our neighborhoods are safe, our children and seniors are looked after and the quality of life is high. When fear rules the day we all auffer. Life is about growth and develment which involves risk. When safety becomes the only goal all else suffers.

  24. sonya August 18, 2009 at 10:03 pm #

    Once when we were camping with our kids and inlaws at a state park, an 11 year old boy came past our campsite crying that he was lost. It was near sunset, and he had gone to the restrooms and taken a wrong turn. Because my husband and I were busy with getting dinner ready and our own kids, my father-in-law (who is a school teacher) asked the boy if he could remember his campsite number (he could) and so after checking the map, my father-in-law walked the boy back to his own campsite. Afterwards he said he wished he had taken me with him, because he started to worry as he was walking, that someone would accuse him. But all was ok in the end.

  25. A. B. August 18, 2009 at 11:49 pm #

    My husband loves children. He loves to play with them. Make faces at them. Make them laugh. He’s always been this way and he’s a sweet loving man without a dangerous bone in his body.

    He hasn’t yet been accused of anything, but it is something that’s always in the back of my mind. What if someone thinks the wrong thing? Hasn’t society trained us to think that only sick men want to be around children?

    There’s also the story of a teacher in our area that lost his job. He was the one that a suicidal student called at 3 am. The teacher saved the student’s life by showing up and being there for him. The school decided that the teacher must be “Conditioning the student for abuse.” I mean the student couldn’t possibly have wanted to call the teacher because the teacher cared about him as a person. it must be because the teacher was getting ready to harm the kid. I just want to cry for this man. He saves a life and loses his job. How sick is this country????

  26. HappyNat August 19, 2009 at 2:58 am #

    Just last week my wife, daughter, and I were at some tide pools along the Pacific Ocean. A little boy (4 or 5) was scared to jump over a stream of water to get to the next line of rocks and pools. He yelled to his parents for help several times and they didn’t hear him as they were with other children. I was standing on the rock he wanted to get to next to my daughter and without think I held out my arms and said, “I’ll help you across.” The poor boy looked petrified and his eyes got as big as plates.

    I can’t say for sure it was a “stranger danger” reaction but that is what I suspect. His mother came over pretty quick and helped him and they were off.

  27. sleeprun August 19, 2009 at 5:04 am #

    …mother’s fear triggering….likely genetic….my understanding that, rather than strangers,…..most danger of any kind of child abuse comes mainly from mentally ill parents and close relatives…..duh…..

  28. Brenda August 19, 2009 at 6:04 am #

    My husband and I are childless by choice ( we love kids, but our lives don’t allow for us to have them at this point). We feel we get the double whammy on this. Not only are we stangers we are double dangerous as we are not approved “mommies and daddies” This breaks our hearts since we love and enjoy the time we spend with kids. My husband is a middle school volunteer coach and I help teach kids how to work with dogs.

    However, outside of those distinct activities we are very aware of our non-parental status when it comes to helping kids that clearly could use a helping hand. Being outgoing people we are the ones who generally want to help, but are often leery of implications of our actions.

    It is much easier helping all the lost dogs I find then helping a child that needs help for a moment. I don’t give a moment’s pause before doing so and no one questions why I keep a leash in my car or have come to their house with their dog (other than not knowing he/she was loose). And that says a lot about our society, I think.

  29. Chris August 19, 2009 at 6:50 am #

    Yep: there was a little boy, maybe 3, clearly lost at the farmer’s market, and I sort of herded him along without touching him while trying to find his father. I was definitely unwilling to pick him up, but I had a lot of resistance to the idea of even holding his hand, for fear of what kind of kerfuffle might have kicked up. (I think I assumed, probably correctly, that if I were touching him at all, anyone who decided to flip out could accuse me of abduction.) Fortunately for the whole enterprise, including the distraught child, a girl working one of the stalls noticed us and picked the kid up so he could look at everyone’s faces and identify a parent. We found the panicked father a few minutes later on the other side of the market.

    I’m a 32-year old Silicon Valley software engineer. I practice Zen and aikido, am generally pretty kind, and there’s nothing suspicious about me. But the culture is such that I felt I had to withold simple physical contact from a child, when it would have been helpful both for looking for his parents, and I think just for his sense that a grown-up was there and helping him (he was much calmer once the girl picked him up).

    But so it is.

  30. Azucar August 19, 2009 at 6:52 am #

    My father-in-law is a burly Italian-American man in his 60s.

    Once, while in a grocery store while I had my toddler with us, we saw a cute little girl in a cart with her mother. My FIL whispered to me that it was so sad that he couldn’t tell the girl that she was adorable, or well behaved, or pull faces to make her laugh without the parent thinking that he was a predator. The look on his face broke my heart. Here’s a guy who LOVES children, but based on some freakazoid new societal paradigms, can’t interact with them.

  31. Judd August 19, 2009 at 7:51 am #

    I was walking down a busy downtown street and I there was a small group of young kids off to the side. As I passed, I noticed the oldest girl was holding her arm. It was obviously broken. I stopped and told my friend to hold on. I waited a “safe” distance to make sure everything was OK. A few others watched but most people kept going, not wanting anything to do with the situation. Here was a girl with an arm bent the wrong way and nobody could even acknowledge her. I didn’t intervene until her younger brother started to help her up to walk home. I don’t have First Aid or anything but I did know she shouldn’t walk home with a broken arm. I told her to sit down and that we’ll get her help. She seemed so relieved that an adult was actually taking responsibility. I let her brother borrow my phone to call their parents. I calmed her down and reassured her that the doctor will make it feel better (not “hurt more”). I stayed until I saw a COP and flagged HER down.
    “You passed,” my friend said. “You’re ready to be a father.”
    Now at the playground, the mothers at the park can help my son onto the play equipment. That’s fine, but when their children look up at me, I just wait for a mother to come along.

  32. Olivia August 19, 2009 at 11:55 am #

    I struggle with this stranger danger idea now as a parent. My older son will be 4 in December and has decided that he needs to use the men’s room when he has to pee in a public restroom. (Not because he has a problem with the women’s room, just because he really really likes urinals) Obviously, I can’t go in with him, so I wait just outside. My husband and I had to figure out how to tell him what to do if someone DID try to grab him without scaring him about using the bathroom independently.. So in the end we basically talked about trusting his instincts. Someone trying to help him use the sink is not a bad person, but if he feels nervous around a person for any reason, just walk away. And if he feels he can’t walk away, scream. Now he tells me before going in that people helping are nice but if someone isn’t nice he will scream really loud. So far we are incident free, except for someone helping him turn on the water. 🙂

    In another strangers are ok situation, yesterday at the beach the same older son was filling a bucket with sand to make birthday cakes, and decided that one of the women sitting on a bench about 20 feet from us was having a birthday that day. So I let him run over to a group of people none of us knew to go sing Happy Birthday and present them with sand cake. They were enchanted, and he came back over really proud of himself. We did talk about not leaving the beach with anyone he didn’t know and all that, but it’s nice for me to see that he sees the people around him as friends, not as threats.


  33. Edward H. August 20, 2009 at 4:11 am #

    I to have had an incident many years ago when I could have helped a child in distress but didn’t because of what I thought others would think about it. It haunts me to this day that I don’t know what happened to that kid.
    It pains me to realize I’m looked on as a “monster” when out in public in the presence of “stranger children”.
    I honestly believe much of this problem is the attitude police officers take in these situations. It’s as if they have been trained to convict someone at the scene without any explanation at all. That they must be the “hero”.
    If law enforcement would make the same public effort to say to parents and schools that their actually are helpful law abiding citizens in their communities as they have turning us all into monsters, I think much of this problem would go away.
    I know it may upset some people that I’m blaming the police for this but after reading posts on this site, it just reinforces my opinion. They simply have not been properly trained to handle these particular events.

  34. Meg August 20, 2009 at 3:26 pm #

    I’m a mom and do help.

    From my husband’s perspective – he has, since a child, had a connection with children. His mom loves to talk about how they would go camping and DH would have all the kids playing with him.

    On our vacation last week, he and my older two kids (4 and 3) were digging in a sand dune. I was about 20 feet away with my youngest – not clearly a part of their group.

    A 14 y/o boy stopped and talked to my husband. Then, a 7 year old girl asked if she could help my family dig their “pit” in the sand.

    It never even occurred to me to think that someone would think it improper for my husband to have “contact” with other children.

    The parents dropped by at one point, to check in with their daughter, but they didn’t seem freaked out.

  35. RobC August 20, 2009 at 4:17 pm #

    Something I’m left wondering, after reading all the comments here – is this fear of being labelled a potential pedophile if a man interacts in any way with a child he doesn’t know in some fashion a real fear, or something that’s been blown out of all proportion, the way the parents we try not to be like are so fond of doing with their fear of abduction/fatal accident/goodness knows what else if they ever leave their kids alone for five seconds? *

    What I’m getting at is, if I was to speak to some random child in the supermarket or on the train in the US, would I really have an angry mob of parents descending on me with torches and pitchforks? Because that just wouldn’t happen here in Australia. I often interact with kids I don’t know directly (while observing what I think are reasonable boundaries), and have never been met with suspicion of any kind (that I’ve been aware of).

    * Yes, that was all one sentence. I’m sorry.

  36. Uly August 20, 2009 at 8:54 pm #

    What I’m getting at is, if I was to speak to some random child in the supermarket or on the train in the US, would I really have an angry mob of parents descending on me with torches and pitchforks?

    No, you wouldn’t. However there’s definitely some crazies out there who *would* assume you had untoward purposes – and a lot of otherwise sane people who say aloud that they’ll never hire a male to watch their young child or they’d never feel comfortable with a male as their kid’s teacher in school or they never let their young kid – even a boy, even with daddy! – enter the men’s room (because if predators are hiding out in the bathroom god knows they wouldn’t just hide out in the bathroom of the WRONG SEX), that they just don’t understand why a guy would want to watch young children anyway, etc. etc. etc.

    I’m not a guy, but I imagine that if I were these sort of things would add up and make me very uncomfortable in some situations… especially situations where you’re already the odd one out, like at a playground that’s mostly moms.

  37. Leonard Ewy August 21, 2009 at 1:18 am #

    When my son was in elementary school (he is now 27), I volunteered a lot at his school and got to know the kids–especially the troubled kids–very well. The teachers liked to assign those kids, both boys and girls, to me for one-on-one tutoring with reading and arithmetic. One first grade girl who had no male role model in her life became very attached to me. She would often cling to me until I would actually have to remove her arms from around my waist. This wasn’t too disturbing until the local news media began hysterical “news” coverage of a male day-care worker in a neighboring city who was accused of inappropriately touching a girl in his care. Even as authorities found no evidence that he committed any inappropriate acts, the poor guy was convicted in the media and he committed suicide. Because of that I forced myself to walk away from that little girl and no longer volunteered in that school for the rest of the year.

  38. Bryan C August 21, 2009 at 3:51 am #

    I was in a Target store last year, shopping by myself, when I saw a little boy walking up and down the aisles. He was crying and calling for his mother, so it was pretty clear he was lost. It was a slow day and there weren’t any helpful redshirts around, so I fell in beside him and guided him toward the front of the store, hoping he’d see his mom along the way or, failing that, I could drop him off at the customer service desk where they could make an announcement.

    Fortunately he saw her in a nearby aisle and ran on over to her. She smiled and nodded at me. I returned the gesture and went about my business. Nobody freaked out.

    I do understand the fear of being misunderstood, but I frankly don’t think it’s warranted. If you refuse to help a child in distress out of fear, it’s your choice, and not something the media or society has imposed on you.

  39. Omundar August 21, 2009 at 6:39 am #

    All these stories make me so sad; as a male who has loved children and childhood since I was old enough to reminisce about them, I am horrified. Even if the actual possibility is exaggerated, just the idea so many people would come to such a startling conclusion deeply troubles me. I think the best hope we would have to change this is for one guy to be accused of a crime for helping a small child out, and then have that guy be strong enough to go to and withstand trial, not to mention the media. People won’t realize the evil of these positions until they are shown to them by the very same medium that inspired their adoption of those positions in the first place.

  40. Nate August 21, 2009 at 7:12 am #

    One evening as it was getting dark I was out in the car with my kids and saw a boy walking his bike in our neighbourhood who appeared lost. I definitely thought twice about asking if he needed help. The fact I had my kids with me made me bolder. So I stopped, got out of the car, but didn’t approach him so as not to spook him, and asked if he was okay. Turns out my hunch was right, he was lost, so I let him use my cell phone to call his parents, then stayed with him until they came to pick him up. His parents said nothing to me, but my kids thought I was a hero!

  41. RobC August 21, 2009 at 7:15 am #

    “His parents said nothing to me…”

    Seriously? That’s just downright rude!

  42. Steve August 22, 2009 at 5:57 pm #

    Funny, I feel the same way. I’m 55 yrs old, and would not touch, approach, or get involved with any child.

    Whats even sadder for me is that with all the fear of strangers, far more damage comes from family members, in my case an abusive grandmother who had free reign to do what she wanted to me. I think there is too much emphasis on “family” being safe, and everyone else being damgeros. In my case, most strangers would have been safer and kinder than an emotionally and physically abusive family member.

  43. bequirox August 23, 2009 at 12:49 pm #

    My friend was shopping with her kids and her son asked a man his name. The man looked at her son, then walked away, and her son was devastated that someone would be so mean to him. I don’t know if he walked off because he was worried what people would think, or if he was just a jerk. But come on! Make up a name and THEN leave!

  44. sleeprun August 24, 2009 at 5:28 am #

    ..i’m older…..a guy..(.i tink…lemme check, yup)….i hug kidz, complement parentz on kidz, talk 2 kidz…etc… i meet out n about all the time….i jst read the kid n the parentz….wacked out parentz r ez 2 spot….they’re afraid of everyting!!!!….act scared, r hostile….mean…..i stay away frm them!….most r flattered ther kidz git attn…..bt i live in big city so….

  45. Lasivian December 17, 2009 at 3:37 pm #

    I am a 36 year old male that had a run in with a lost child at a local department store here in Seattle.

    I didn’t think at all about the possible ramifications of the fact that I was an adult man trying to help a very young boy, I just did what seemed right.

    I asked the child if they were lost but he didn’t answer, I figured he was scared. A woman came over and said “oh, he’s probably lost, i’ll take care of it, i’m a woman”.

    The mother showed up in just a few moments, but I did not hold my tongue against the comment. There was an exchange of words and the woman definitely felt like somehow men are all slime and women are all perfect and that no man could possibly take care of a lost child.

    I’m not normally violent but I wanted to backhand her for being so sexist and belittling me just because i’m male and not listening to a word I said otherwise.

  46. Kimberly December 18, 2009 at 11:54 am #

    A while back at the mall I saw a man trying to help a lost child, but the child wouldn’t speak to him. I took out my teacher ID and tried showing it the the child and asking in English and Spanish for her name.

    She pointed to my ID said maestra (SP) and gave us her name. The man then offered to get a mall employee while I stayed with the child. He must have found the family looking for the child just as he went around the corner, because he was back so quickly with them. The girls parents thanked both of us.

    I hope he didn’t think I did it because he was a man. I have use the teacher ID thing before with kids that were having some type of problem*. It seems to make them more comfortable.

    *Nasty spill resulting in cut that needed stitches. I gave 1st aid while friend ran home for a parent. (I keep a kit in my camera bag)

    Another time the chain had come off the bike. I helped them get it back on.