I was in the mall the other day and walked past one of the bath and body, candle stores. As I approached there was a little girl, maybe 4 years old, standing in the front of the store. She was turning in circles, on the edge of tears. Before I got to her a gentleman in his 30’s approached and asked if she was lost. She replied “mommy?” and started crying. He said “Come with me sweetie, we’ll go to the information booth and they can find your mommy. See, it’s right there.” as he pointed over the glass rail to the lower level. The info booth was directly below us on the first floor, you could see it from where we stood.
As I looked around every woman within ear shot had converged on this store front and was questioning this man’s motives in whispers to each other. I too hesitated to walk off. I walked into the bath/body store and asked an employee if they had a customer with a little girl in a bright blue tank top, about 4 years old. A dad approached and said “Where is she?” I explained the gentleman was taking her to the information booth just below us. The dad left the store and caught up with the other gentleman before he reached the escalator. I do not know what was said or happened at that point as I walked away.
The whole event got me thinking. Why were we (all the moms and women) so concerned over this gentleman helping this little girl? Women came from everywhere as he walked her toward the escalator; there were at least 6-8 women in addition to me. The mall is open and you could see the escalator and the information booth. Why did we all assume this man, probably a father himself, was a child predator? If a woman had approached the little girl and offered to walk her down the escalator, would we have stayed and watched? Would we have questioned her motives? Would anyone have given it a second thought? I know my husband would have helped the little girl as well and is sickens me to think others might believe him to be a child predator.
I wonder what the girl’s dad said to the gentleman, what he thought. Did he question the man’s motives as well? Did he even give it a thought? Or did they have some sort of ‘understanding?’ What has our world come to that we cannot even trust a man to walk a lost child to an information booth in the mall, while remaining in full view?
I fully understand ‘stranger danger’ and that we live in a world full of people who do prey on children, but we also live in a world full of kind, good, caring people who do the right thing. I feel badly that I questioned this man’s motives and I apologize to him and all the other good guys out there who would have helped as well. But, unfortunately, I will question the next man too……