Thursday, April 06, 2006

Did Pedophilia Hysteria Cause Child's Death?

At an inquest held in England after a child fell into an algae-covered pond and drowned, a man who saw the toddler wandering unattended said he didn't stop because he was afraid people would think he was trying to abduct the child.

So did hysteria really cause the child's death? I say no.

I can relate to this man's fear of being seen as an abductor, but even with our heightened sensitivity, there were options available to him other than the rejected option of immediately grabbing the child.

1) If he had a cell phone or 2-way radio, he could have called the police while staying close enough to the child to prevent tragedy.

2) If he didn't have a way of summoning help where he was, he could have stopped at the nearest occupied building (maybe the daycare center), requested help for the child then returned to a position near enough to the child so he could intervene if needed, but far enough away so he couldn't be accused of trying to abduct her.

There's a good chance that the real source of the problem is a dialogue like this:

"If this were a real problem, someone else who has more time and less to lose will help."

"Well maybe the child is lost, but her mother will find her any second now."

"I'm on the clock and getting involved will mess up my entire day."

"Besides, some fool might call me a pedophile."

I'm not trying to attack the man who didn't stop, only to look at all of the motivations we have for ignoring signals that tell us something isn't right.

Here is Alas, a blog's take on this subject.

In this Fox News story it's interesting that another example of this hysteria is the arrest of a man who grabbed a girl's arm after almost hitting her with his car. The Fox story paints the man as a lifesaving hero who's been punished with a conviction on the charge of "the unlawful restraint of a minor," but he might have been convicted for an act of road rage.

Rather than lowering the fears of potential life-savers, Fox's coverage raises the hysteria level while blaming the hysteria on those who are trying to bring very real problems into the open so we can fight the victimization of children.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 1:04 PM   2 comments links to this post


At April 12, 2006 1:00 PM, Blogger ajs said...

A two year old girl, on her own, is walking down a surburban street. A builder's van stops. A man gets out. He seems a little unsure of himself; almost furtive, even, as he makes his way to the pavement in front of her. He crouches down on the ground and says something to her; you are just out of earshot. She begins to protest. He makes some gestures. She seems to calm down a little. Eventually he persuades her to get into the van and drives away, slowly .....

Because of course his intentions are entirely honourable, in fact, you were just thinking to yourself, "Aw, isn't that sweet? The nice builder in his scruffy work clothes is putting that girl in his van, so he can drive around and look for her mummy!"

It's not feasible to call the authorities every single time you see a child without a parent! In any case, the guy might have had his own reasons for not wanting to involve the Old Bill: perhaps he was carrying, or maybe he had already had a run-in with some little scrote who abused him, then threatened to falsely inform on him when he retaliated.

At April 12, 2006 5:19 PM, Blogger Marcella Chester said...


I'm not sure what your point is.

I certainly didn't suggest that the man should put an unknown child in his vehicle the way you describe in your opening paragraph.


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