The responses to my recent Acculturated post about the spate of parental arrests is upsetting. Not because I’ve been criticized for my position that grown adults shouldn’t be calling the police when they see an unattended child, but because the criticism seems valid.
A plurality of commentators have said that if they were male, they would never approach an unattended child because of the fear of being accused of being a predator or pervert.
Joel quotes me and then responds:
“In just about all of these cases (and the many others over the past two decades), an adult who witnessed and worried about a child—a kid alone at the playground, walking by himself on the street or sitting alone in a car—didn’t actually take responsibility for making sure everything was alright. ”
That’s feasible for a woman (maybe), but a guaranteed trip to the police station for a man. If I stopped a strange child in the park to ask if they were all right, every bystander in sight would peg me as a pervert.
Several people agreed wholeheartedly with Joel.
And Andy wrote as follows:
I’m a 39 year old male who doesn’t want to spend his day sitting in jail charged with child enticement or charged with another crime.
If I see a female child alone, I’m not stopping for pretty much anything. It’s just not worth me having my name plastered all over the media as a potential abuser.
This is worrisome to me both because I want my kids to live in a world where their neighbors and even strangers (men and women) can approach if there’s a problem, without fearing retribution for doing so, and because I think physical community is so important and we have to be able to talk to one another even if we haven’t ever met before.
No one should fear the police. But it seems as if parents have a legitimate reason to fear the police getting involved in their kids lives (as they tend to get arrested for making harmless choices), and individuals fear being criminalized for caring about the well-being of children. This is harmful to citizens and bad for law enforcement.