All it takes is one split second.
This isn’t meant as an alarmist banner, rather, a reminder. A reminder that even though we live in relatively crime-free cities, there are people walking our streets with ill intentions and we must always be on alert.
Just last month an e-mail circulated through the Mommy Set in a particular neighbourhood in Toronto, alerting them and alarming them of predatory danger to their children. Some thought the story wasn’t true, like an urban myth; others needed more information and called around for verification.
But, for the most part, moms, dads and caregivers alike took note.
The e-mail stated there was an “attempted abduction” of a two-year-old at a local toy store. The alleged perpetrator was described as “65 with long, grey hair, beard and glasses, in casual dress.”
It also stated this same man had been spotted at a local park, and police said he “may be part of a pedophile group.” Spread the word and be on the highest alert, was the overriding message.
“He is obviously trolling and is smart enough to know the places where kids might get 30 seconds alone with your back turned.”
For two days, anywhere and everywhere I went with my children, the “incident” was the red hot topic.
And then I received the followup e-mail, written by somebody’s sister (although I received it from two different people with different sisters). This woman had called the toy store where the “incident” had occurred, and had spoken with the manager.
According to the manager, as the man in question was leaving the store, he commented to a little girl, there with her caregiver, on how pretty she was.
“He did not try to grab her, he didn’t threaten her or try to hurt her in any way. Later, the child’s parents called the store about it and the store called the police and filed a report.”
It’s amazing how things can get blown out of proportion.
There was no actual abduction attempt, just an irregular customer, browsing through a toy store, behaving in an odd fashion, who spoke to a little girl.
Part of me wonders if he wasn’t just an elderly man, perhaps in an altered state, maybe suffering with early on-stage Alzheimers, meandering through the city, looking for happier times.
No matter. As adults, we hope we can usually figure out who’s menacing, and who’s simply muddled. But, as parents, our antennae need to be raised at all times.
We don’t want to live in fear, nor do we want our children to grow up fearful or tense when out in public. But for adults who are involved with children, the risk of not staying watchful and alert is far too great.
This is a reminder: keep your eyes on your children, and stay close without making them nervous.