Patterico's Pontifications

5/22/2015

Nothing To Be Concerned About: 6 Year Old Child Lifted Up Over Schoolyard Fence By 60 Year Old Stranger To Retrieve His Ball

Filed under: General — Dana @ 6:01 pm



[guest post by Dana]

The folks over at Reason are clucking about the police investigating a stranger who lifted a little boy over a schoolyard fence to retrieve a runaway ball. At no time did the stranger try to take the child, but appeared to simply be helping him. The Reason folks believe this might be a new low:

In a world gone crazy with mandemonium (pandemonium sparked by seeing a man near a child), this all points bulletin may be a new low.

What are they going to charge him with? Attempted kindness?

From the police report:

Police Investigate Incident at Lyles-Crouch Elementary School

For Immediate release: May 20, 2015

The Alexandria Police Department is investigating an incident that occurred earlier today involving a six-year-old student at Lyles-Crouch Elementary, 530 S. Saint Asaph Street.

At approximately 10:15 a.m., a male student went to the edge of a fenced playground to retrieve a ball on the other side. The student was approached by an unknown man who lifted him over the fence to retrieve the ball. A teacher saw the child being picked up and challenged the stranger, at which point the man escorted the student to a fence opening to re-enter the playground. The unknown man then left the area. At no time did the unknown man attempt to leave the area with the child.

The man is described as a black male in his 60’s, 6’0” tall, wearing a beige and green shirt and khakis.

The Criminal Investigations Section is continuing to investigate this incident. Anyone with any information is asked to call Detective Alma Zepeda…


I want to know why the man lifted the child over the fence rather than just picking up the ball and tossing it back to him?

Further, if there was a fence opening, why didn’t the man direct the child to it in the first place so he could retrieve the ball, or better yet, pick up the ball and toss it to the child through the opening?

And, as one responsible for her students’ welfare, was the teacher unreasonable in contacting the authorities?

Anyway, the Free Range Kids group is also up in arms about it. I guess the thinking is, if nothing happened other than a man helping a child, what’s the big deal? But if something had happened, then what? Would the original behavior they currently approve of (a strange man lifting a child up over a schoolyard fence), then become something unacceptable because something bad happened as a result?

What if were your child being lifted over the fence?

–Dana

99 Responses to “Nothing To Be Concerned About: 6 Year Old Child Lifted Up Over Schoolyard Fence By 60 Year Old Stranger To Retrieve His Ball”

  1. Hello.

    Dana (86e864)

  2. There was a rumor of a molester in the area of my grandson’s little league park. Local hysteria for a few days.

    Mike K (90dfdc)

  3. This is exactly the kind of fear-mongering Reason and Free Range object to; the presumption that the worst case scenario is the one most likely to happen. (“Worst first thinking”, they call it.) In this case, there’s nothing to suggest that the man had any nefarious intentions, and just wanted to help. “Why didn’t he do X, Y or Z?” Presumably because he didn’t think of it.

    JWB (52a414)

  4. JWB,

    I hope you are not suggesting that I am fear-mongering, rather I am asking reasonable questions that I would think most people would be curious about. I would like to hear your response to them.

    Dana (86e864)

  5. I do think there is a degree of irrationality about and am not in favor of acting as if a kidnapper/molester is behind every bush.
    But I also think they are reasonable questions, and the fact that a teacher was there immediately may have altered something.
    Nearing 60, I’m thinking it would likely have been easier to get the ball and throw it back rather than lift the child, otoh, perhaps the ball had travelled enough distance he thought it was easier to lift the child and let him go run and get the ball, so I guess more details might actually help.
    But,
    having learned today of a bizarre incident involving a grand child of friends of mine, I am tilted to the be careful side of things.

    Anyway, I would hope that they are presuming innocence and would hope to confirm it was simply a kind gesture rather the rake the guy over the coals.

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  6. Attempting to criminalize it seems like a stretch, but minimizing this also seems wrong, because this is NOTnsupposed to happen at school.

    JD (3b5483)

  7. R.I.P. Harlem Globetrotters great Marques Haynes, dead at 89

    Icy (703619)

  8. I agree, JD, this isn’t supposed to happen at school.

    With that, do you believe he should be brought in for questioning?

    Dana (86e864)

  9. this is a misuse of the internet

    happyfeet (831175)

  10. I should have added a trigger warning, eh?

    Dana (86e864)

  11. Using street view in Google Maps one can see that there is a large rec area behind the school.There is a waist high fence around three of the sides. On the side by the school there is no fence and is bounded by a parking lot and bus path for school buses. Long way to walk to this opening then. Sounds like guy just lifted a kid over the shallow fence, got accosted and told the kid to get out on his own.

    zdude (994096)

  12. sweet mother of pickles it’s just an anecdote

    but odds are the man was not perniciously lifting

    and you know what?

    if he was perniciously lifting?

    and a wee small failmerican child was perniciously lifted?

    i give precisely 2.75 pikachu craps

    happyfeet (831175)

  13. “Just asking questions”? Come on.

    “do you believe he should be brought in for questioning?”

    On what grounds? Inappropriate kindness? Unlawful humanity? Even “asking questions” about a casual interaction like this is fear-mongering. What is the premise behind the questions? What drives them? The irrational fear that he might have been a predator.

    JWB (52a414)

  14. meanwhile Mike Huckabee is creating the GOP-DuggarDuggar Child Molester Alliance Avengers Assemble Thunderbirds Are Go

    yeah I’m a let you guys go first with the wagon-circling on that one

    what kind of duggared out whore has 19 children anyway

    happyfeet (831175)

  15. But if something had happened, then what?

    But nothing happened. I repeat, it does not matter one iota what could have, should have would have or “had” happened. Nothing happened. Are we as a society gonna go all crazy every time something could have happened but didn’t? Then when do we start prosecuting and incarcerating people for things they could have done but didn’t?

    Hoagie (f4eb27)

  16. You Americans are crazy.

    Christoph Dollis (0ef8b4)

  17. Attempting to criminalize it seems like a stretch, but minimizing this also seems wrong, because this is NOT supposed to happen at school.

    No it’s not. At school is where the teachers are supposed to be sodomizing the kids, not black men. Racist!

    Hoagie (f4eb27)

  18. i stand wif dollis

    happyfeet (831175)

  19. Even “asking questions” about a casual interaction like this is fear-mongering. What is the premise behind the questions? What drives them? The irrational fear that he might have been a predator.

    JWB,

    I dont want to misunderstand you – you think the police asking questions is fear-mongering, or me asking questions?

    Dana (86e864)

  20. So an apparent foreigner named Christoph Dollis calls you crazy and you immediately agree with him. You’re a deep thinker happyfeet.

    Hoagie (f4eb27)

  21. I doesn’t matter who’s asking questions. The guy didn’t do anything, did he? So what questions would one ask? Perhaps: Why didn’t you rape the boy? Or Do you like lifting little children? Maybe the cops should go to his home and interrogate him. Then his neighbors can think bout what an almost child molester he is. Get a grip.

    Hoagie (f4eb27)

  22. We’re approaching a tipping point where the helicopter adults will no longer allow any non-family, non-government figure around kids for any period of time, nor will they allow those same kids to experience life without some form of approved supervision. It’s sickening.

    As for this incident, it’s a gross overreaction, and it happens all too often. Conservatives need to push back against this sort of thinking because its the same failed logic used against gun owners. Adult picks up kid to help retrieve a ball without any apparent malice towards the boy, but the act alone is justification in their minds to cause panic. Law abiding citizen open carries or has a CHL without any malice or intent to kill or injure, but the left makes the case that it’s going to be the wild west and shootings everywhere because the gun is present. Same hysteria.

    Sean (69ccc8)

  23. this is the part of the state, that elected mcawful, so common sense shouldn’t be expected,

    narciso (ee1f88)

  24. Cristoph is kind of stalker-y

    JD (3b5483)

  25. JWB – care to explain why that is irrational? Your vehemence to the contrary position is rather ironic.

    JD (3b5483)

  26. It seems to me that claiming nothing happened this time is missing the bigger picture.

    JD (3b5483)

  27. I doesn’t matter who’s asking questions. The guy didn’t do anything, did he? So what questions would one ask? Perhaps: Why didn’t you rape the boy? Or Do you like lifting little children? Maybe the cops should go to his home and interrogate him. Then his neighbors can think bout what an almost child molester he is. Get a grip.

    Hoagie, my grip is just fine, thank you. Of course it matters who is asking the questions. Obviously, me asking questions here and the police asking questions of the man are clearly two very different things with two very different motives.

    I am curious about where the line from reasonable to unreasonable begins. When I had small children, they ran and played and checked in throughout the summer days. But that was a long time ago and environments change, society changes and neighborhoods change. What may have been considered safe at one time, may not be at another. Personally, I would be uncomfortable knowing a strange man lifted my kid over their schoolyard fence. It wouldn’t matter that nothing happened. I wouldn’t want a stranger to unnecessarily lay hands on them. That doesn’t seem unreasonable. Does it mean I believe there should be an APB out for the man? No, I don’t believe so.

    Dana (86e864)

  28. If’n he has the sense Allah gave him, he won’t come forward either. What a country this is becoming.

    Gazzer (d3f7b0)

  29. I want to know why the man lifted the child over the fence rather than just picking up the ball and tossing it back to him?

    First you need to know how tall the fence is. Unless the fence is three feet tall the stranger is not reaching over the fence and picking kids off the ground.

    If it’s a six or eight foot fence then somebody must have climbed it.

    I would wager that would be the child, not the 60 year old. And then the 60 yeaqr old reached up and helped the kid down.

    I could be wrong. Maybe the description is incorrect and they’re looking for some guy twelve feet tall.

    Steve57 (fb1453)

  30. what happened to mr. dollis is this a poltergeist thing

    happyfeet (831175)

  31. hate poltergeists so much i really do

    happyfeet (831175)

  32. Steve57,

    The report said the child went to the edge of the playground and “The student was approached by an unknown man who lifted him over the fence to retrieve the ball”.

    I interpret that as the boy standing at the fence and the man reaching over and lifting him. He’s 6′ and could easily reach over a 4′ fence. I don’t see that the child necessarily climbed it.

    Nonetheless, just toss the ball over.

    Dana (86e864)

  33. it’s getting late but we have to resolve this or me for one i’m sure as hell not sleeping a wink

    happyfeet (831175)

  34. there’s all this lifting going on

    happyfeet (831175)

  35. zdude (994096) — 5/22/2015 @ 7:18 pm
    Following your lead, I am not well versed in using street level view, but it looks to me like that large play area, surrounded on 3 sides with fence, has on the other side of the fence basically sidewalk and street.
    I don’t think I would lift a child over a fence to tell him to run across the street and get the ball.
    I think it would be overreach if it was somebody you saw in the neighborhood regularly and knew a little bit about and the event seemed normal enough. If it was someone you never saw before, especially if the interaction was odd (the ball was 3 feet in front of you, why didn’t you just pick up the ball), then more concern seems reasonable.
    The fact that it happened while at school with a teacher monitoring I think made it mandatory that the teacher had to report it.

    I say assume innocence of evil intent until proving otherwise, check it out, and if the guy is a registered sex offender then maybe you’ll be glad you checked it out.

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  36. Take a walk around the school and look at the fence yourself,
    amazing, ain’t it,
    just think what the NSA must have:
    https://www.google.com/maps/@38.799642,-77.046967,3a,75y,90h,82.66t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sNguXUMlWm3UhAieqBKtWXw!2e0

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  37. Dana @33, I don’t doubt you. But police reports aren’t usually well written.

    Often because as in this case the officer didn’t witness the purported crime.

    Around here there are no school yard playground fences that I can’t stand next to, reach up as high as I can, and still not reach the top.

    Conduct your own experiment. Walk around and see if elementary schools are surrounded by waist high or chest high fences. Don’t take my word.

    What I believe is likely is the kid had already reach the top and they man just helped the kid down. But the teacher described it to the cop (who didn’t witness the incident) as if the man reached over the fence.

    How tall is the fence?

    Steve57 (fb1453)

  38. I read this as that the man and the boy were on the same side of the fence, and the ball on the far side. If thats right, that kills all “just throw the ball back” suggestions – because the ball was on the FAR side.

    There’s also no indication if the boy was in attendance at the school, or was just playing outside it. If school was in session, and the boy was there, on school time, then what do the teacher’s that were supposed to be supervising have to say?

    There’s lots of information that’s unclear or being left out here, and none of it should require an “investigation” should determine – its all information that should be available in the initial report. I do admit leaving it out makes it look more “scary”, and “scary” of course sells more newspapers and/or gets more “but think of the children” votes that clear and informative do.

    The Internet (31b838)

  39. Steve57,

    See MD’s link @ 38.

    Dana (86e864)

  40. This simple post makes me think it’s about time for Jesus to carry me away. In my younger days, I worried about war, pestilence, the threat of nuclear war and my wife’s stare.

    I’m a 57-year-old man white man. If I saw a child in distress, or just trying to retrieve a ball over the fence, you know what I would do? Nothing.

    As a matter of fact, I would hesitate to rescue a young person from drowning or involved in an accident.

    It’s not because I don’t care. It’s because I would go to jail and my family would be destroyed. The mere fact that I am an old white guy prevents me from doing what is right.

    This is where we are. And where we are is the whole point of the left.

    Ag80 (eb6ffa)

  41. “What if were your child being lifted over the fence?”

    I would thank the man for helping my child.

    This paranoia is primarily an affluent young White female preoccupation – a mattress of sorts that they all carry around. The Black duffer probably thought the old rules still hold on the other side of the tracks. How wrong he was. The upside to living in the ghetto is that you don’t have to fantasize about threats to public safety.

    ThOR (a52560)

  42. A while back I was in bathroom in Wall Mart, when a small boy was attempting to wash his hands. Of course the faucets were too high. I went outside and found his Mom. I ask permission to lift him up so he could use the faucet. Was I stupid to do it anyway? Didn’t think so then, do now.

    LYNN (a6c758)

  43. Do you realize how rare child abduction by strangers is? The whole ’80s hysteria persists, the indoctrination of kids on “stranger danger” papered over the fact they are far more likely to be abducted or molested by someone they know.

    Kids are missing something by this obsession with adult supervision. It’s called, “growing up.” Experience is not only the best teacher, for many things in life it is the only teacher.

    We are raising our children to be fearful and dependent, maybe even to vote Democratic. That’s the real child abuse epidemic.

    Estragon (ada867)

  44. But, Monday is Memorial Day.

    Ag80 (eb6ffa)

  45. was the teacher unreasonable in contacting the authorities?

    Most certainly if she’s similar to quite a few others in her profession (ie, ideologically) and endorses the idea that the Boy Scouts of America be mandated to allow adult male homosexuals as troop leaders.

    Mark (abf005)

  46. Just skip to 13:21. There’s you’re next President.

    Ag80 (eb6ffa)

  47. Interestingly, last month a man attempted to kidnap a 7 year old right from the elementary school campus. Thankfully, the girl was well prepared and kicked and screamed drawing attention from nearby parents. The would-be kidnapper was arrested a week later.

    Dana (86e864)

  48. Was the man a Duke LaCrosse player, or maybe he was BILLY BLUE DRESS JIPE CLINTON?? Or maybe he was HARRY the PEDO REID??? SOMEONE told me… that Harry Reid had PERVED on kids for the last 10 years. Maybe Reid should PROVE that he didn’t. He “didn’t”, not He “diddled”.

    Gus (7cc192)

  49. Was the child harmed? Was the “lifter” a libtard, Muzztard or other FREAKISH lefty??? Was the lifting of the child a UNION JOB, and was the FENCE libtard govt approved?? Did the man lifting the child have APPROVAL from the TEACHERS UNION????
    WTF!!!

    Gus (7cc192)

  50. It’s funny that several male commenters appear to not be completely at ease with the situation and yet, it’s being referred to as a “paranoia” preoccupying affluent, young white females.

    Dana (86e864)

  51. Primarily pre-occupying…

    Dana (86e864)

  52. Was the teacher unreasonable for contacting “THE AUTHORITIES”. Yes, the TEACHER was a CLOWN, and WHO, exactly are the AUTHORITIES involving helping KIDS retrieve a BALL?????

    Gus (7cc192)

  53. I’m completely at ease with the situation. I doubt he planned on the ball being hit over a fence. When that happened, he lifted the kid over. Nice guy.

    Christoph Dollis (0ef8b4)

  54. Christopher Dollis. What is wrong with you??? We cannot have UNAPPROVED PEOPLE, helping CHILDREN!!!!! And IF a CHILD was being attacked, abused or even SEXUALLY ASSAULTED, people should turn the other way. UNLESS THEY ARE GOVT. LIBTARD APPROVED.

    Gus (7cc192)

  55. What is the primary cause of severe injury and death for children under the age of 16?

    Automobile accidents in which the child’s mother is behind the wheel. The incidence of such events is an order of magnitude greater than stranger abduction. If we, as a society, are truly concerned about child welfare, we need look no further.

    ThOR (a52560)

  56. Monkey handle bars with a banana seat, with a baseball glove on one handlebar and a catchers mitt on the other, balls tucked in the gloves with a bat over my shoulder riding to the park to” Play Ball”, just like every kid in the 50’s and 60’s. What a farce society has become. Kids and parents have become what the media has longed for. Tools of their destruction.

    mg (31009b)

  57. do you suppose the kid said “he mister, help me over the fence so I can get my ball” then the guy noticed the opening;
    what a waste of electrons to even be discussing here and a waste of police time. You HOPE he presumed innocent? isn’t that the RULE? but I guess it is not the PRACTICE

    sdharms (c7dded)

  58. Dana, asking “What if it was YOUR child?”, and “What if something bad happened?” are fear-mongering questions. Here:

    “What if that ice cream was poisoned with Listeria?”

    “What if they tripped and broke their neck?”

    “What if they caught Ebola from a classmate?”

    “What if the airplane crashed?”

    All of these are ridiculous questions, especially when the disaster didn’t happen. More than that, thinking this way can turn children into fearful, paranoid, anxious adults were incapable of functioning because “What if something bad happens?”

    The idea that “police are investigating” is simply obscene.

    JWB (52a414)

  59. No harm, no foul. Move on folks.

    But if same man described is seen hanging out repeatedly with no reason near children then PROFILE AWAY and see what is up.

    But without further evidence to PROFILE then you must assume the person is simply kind.

    Rodney King's Spirit (b31520)

  60. @Dana:When I had small children, they ran and played and checked in throughout the summer days. But that was a long time ago and environments change, society changes and neighborhoods change. What may have been considered safe at one time, may not be at another.

    And crime rates were much HIGHER then than they are now. As Screwtape says, “The game is to have them running about with fire extinguishers whenever there is a flood, and all crowding to that side of the boat which is already nearly gunwale under… Cruel ages are put on their guard against Sentimentality, feckless and idle ones against Respectability, lecherous ones against Puritanism…”

    At the safest time in history, that’s when people are the most worried about being unsafe.

    There is nothing more dangerous, that a mother does daily, than strap her kids into a car and drive them somewhere. Guns, five-gallon buckets, child molesters and kidnappers, swimming pools, playground equipment, added together don’t come to more that a small fraction of car accidents.

    That’s not feels, that’s math.

    Gabriel Hanna (a3ed6e)

  61. But Gabriel, if the car had crashed the mother would be guilty of child abuse. Since nothing happened let’s investigate her just for child endangerment.

    Hoagie (f4eb27)

  62. alexandria, apparently has little else to concern itself:

    http://www.cityrating.com/crime-statistics/virginia/alexandria.html

    narciso (ee1f88)

  63. The take home lesson for this 64 yr old white male (me) is: note the situation, assess that there is no danger to the kid; then yell at the teacher to get her ass over here, do her f’ing job and get the ball for the kid

    Angelo (06deb4)

  64. I think we have fallen again into the trap of pontificating when the simple facts are not clear.

    Yes, I grew up when I would disappear to play in the neighborhood at 10 and not come back for hours. and I could have gotten into enough trouble being offered drugs and seeing domestic violence, etc., and lived to tell about it.

    From my reading the man was not on the same side of the fence as the child, but on the opposite side where the ball was, which is why, after lifting the boy over the fence to get the ball, he accompanied the boy and ball around the fence instead of lifting him over again.

    Look at the pictures. You have the fence, a thin strip of grass, sidewalk, then parked cars. Maybe indeed he was simply being helpful. Yes, I’ve been to parent meetings at my daughter’s previous public school trying to set up a neighborhood watch type program, and it was asinine what the person from the police dept was telling us. It got to the point where I stood up and said, “You know, from what you are saying, it sounds like if I see a child hit by a car in front of me and they are bleeding to death from a severed artery in their leg, I would be better off doing nothing and letting the child die waiting for an ambulance to come rather than risk something by putting pressure. It seemed that all he wanted to do was tell us we didn’t have permission to do anything except stand and shut up, observe, and call police if we thought it was bad enough, all with the main objective of CYA.

    Bottom line in my thinking, ya had to be there.

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  65. Don’t even assess danger. Treat strange children like bear cubs and assume that interacting with them will result in injury.

    JWB (52a414)

  66. Dana, your questions are what should be asked by reporters all the time, and this is the reason that I don’t read the newspaper anymore, because reporters don’t ask the obvious.

    Denver (eadc69)

  67. Mr. JWB is right for the most part but i still keep an eye out on these train platforms when kids are around

    especially some of the narrower ones

    happyfeet (831175)

  68. Clearly most of us can only guess at the details of this story and there are several issues at play here. I think what many of the male commenters here (and at Reason) may be responding to is their strong belief that had an older woman been there near the fence and lifted the child to help retrieve the ball, there’d have been no teacher calling the police, no law enforcement bulletin describing the mystery person’s outfit, and no investigation undertaken by the Criminal Investigation Section. I’m not so sure we can safely assume that would have been the case in this day and age of social nuttiness when constant examples of over- protecting children is concerned, and an extreme victimhood mentality by somebody seems to rear its head at almost every turn, but I do understand where good men are coming from and why they are reacting to this post as they are.

    For many secure females (including me) who love and appreciate men– and especially so when they are performing their traditional maleness roles in society– we sense there is something awful and demeaning and emasculating happening in the 21st century where men are concerned. And it’s not even subtle anymore. This does not bode well for humankind.

    elissa (3e978f)

  69. i dreamed last night i was a wee small child

    and my ball got away from me

    over the fence it went

    i could not get it back it was over there and i was over here and oh my goodness i just felt so sad

    and i said a little prayer

    and I was lifted up!

    my ball was mine again I was so so so happy

    and I said Lord why did you let me sit so long feeling so sad without my ball

    and he said oh no lil guy the times when you see only one set of footprints

    that is when I carried you!

    oh my goodness thank you so much I said

    happyfeet (831175)

  70. Yes, narrower kids are often in danger. Well said.

    Gazzer (d3f7b0)

  71. I guess the question would be what would have happened if the man thought nobody was watching. We have no way of knowing.
    If I saw a kid in trouble, I’d grab the nearest adult, preferably a woman, to watch me help, whatever it was.
    Several years ago, a Brit truck driver saw a kid wandering around but didn’t stop for fear of being arrested as Chester the Molester. The kid was later found drowned. He could have claimed to be Muslim, in which case anybody objecting to him wrapping the kid up in a tarp and stowing her in the trunk would be arrested for hate speech.

    Richard Aubrey (f6d8de)

  72. I’d want to see the fence, and also know if my son was already trying to climb it.
    But if the old guy was 6′ tall, the fence had to be short… I’d be OK with it. I’ve done the same sort of thing.
    Of course I can get the ball for the kid, but sometimes the kid really really wants to go get it himself and just needs a little lift. The two footprints of Jesus lift. Its a CrossFit workout.
    Jesus.

    steveg (fed1c9)

  73. This story is utterly ludicrous. The kind of person who assumes a man having interactions with a child in public should be suspected of attempting a sex crime is a sick, twisted individual. The exact kind of person in other words, that drives irrational moral panics and creates ridiculous laws to sooth their case of the vapors. Seriously, if this story bothers you, then YOU are the problem.

    Mr Black (f1b3a7)

  74. Have most of you gone batty? Sure this may have been totally innocent. However, the arrangement of the school yard makes it appear that lifting the kid over a fence was not necessary, and maybe a pretext. It is prudent to check into the circumstances a bit to verify that it was an innocent action. A simple check would be to ask the boy what happened. You would have to carefully ask, so you wouldn’t make him think he might be in trouble for something.

    If it was not an innocent action, then ignoring it just allows some other kid to be endangered later.

    Ken in Camarillo (061845)

  75. Dana & JD, the position you take is unreasonable precisely because of the reaction of commenter Ag80. A grown man interacted with a child by physically touching him. You acknowledge that back when you were kids, that wouldn’t have been that big a deal, but times change. Yes, times change. Statistics show that children are far safer today than they were back then. Statistics show that stranger abductions and stranger molestations are vastly less common than abductions and molestations by family and friends.

    I once talked with a lawyer I knew, a father, who was scared to give his toddler-age daughters baths, because, well, who knew what somebody might say one day. These days, having a photo printed of your naked 2 year old after a bath is liable to get the cops or child welfare called on you. That very real fear causes good people, especially good men, to change their behavior, to not be helpful to others out of fear of what busybodies may say about them, about what cops may suspect if they are called, about the insinuations and lengthy analysis of what the simple act of helping a kid over a fence may cause.

    So that’s the flip side. That’s the danger. If we suspect any adult male who has an interaction with a small child… even if only suspect enough to “ask some questions,” then we are sending the message that no adult male should ever interact with an unrelated small child in any way.

    Look, I have a 2 year old daughter. I get the instinct. I don’t like her talking to my own neighbors through our fence, frankly. I want to watch over and protect her and control every interaction she has with the big outside world. But I can’t. And it will damage her severely, over time, if I try to do so. No matter how gently you ask the child in this story about the incident at the fence, just getting questioned about it will tell the child that this shouldn’t have happened, that something was “bad” about the interaction. Is that really how we want to raise our children? Assuming that every adult who helps them in some way may be about to kidnap or molest them?

    Sure, all kids should be taught to be wary of the strangers with “lost puppies” or “your mommy asked me to come get you” stories. But the far, far, FAR greater risk is that their teacher, their aunt or uncle, their neighbor, their minister, their coach, somebody they know will bully them, molest them, hurt them.

    I’m not going to spend my time on Google Maps and street views of this place. I concede that it’s possible that the nature of the fences, placement of the ball and gates, etc., might make the scene more untoward than appears from the simple narrative description. But at the moment, I think far too many people are overreacting to these kinds of situations, and so I think the odds are is that this is an overreaction.

    PatHMV (3c5fde)

  76. There was an article about a year or two ago about a social sciences researcher. Back in the 70s, as a young scientist, he studied children at play. He picked a neighborhood of children, got permission from their parents, and followed them everywhere, studying how they played and interacted with each other. That was back in the “be back by dark” days where the kids in the neighborhood were left entirely to their own devices for most of the day.

    The researcher gained their trust, and the kids showed him their secret play areas, the abandoned lots, wooded groves, and ponds where they would play.

    Twenty years later, he decided to revisit his study to see how play patterns had changed. He approached the kids he had studied, most now parents themselves. All of them loved the freedom they had had as kids, truly enjoyed the lessons they had learned on their own all summer long, but none of them allowed their own children the same freedoms. Moreover, they were so distrustful of life in general that they would not give this researcher permission to follow their kids around the way he had followed them around. They knew, from personal experience, that this guy was a legitimate researcher, had no interest in hurting kids in any way, but still just wouldn’t agree to it, because that’s not what is expected of parents today. Calling the police to question the guy in this story is part of what reinforces that societal attitude.

    PatHMV (3c5fde)

  77. I am not sure if I care enough about your response to respond, but here goes. I don’t think it was as rational as some make it seem to call the cops, or as irrational as those that seem ANGRY about this being even looked into are. The kid was at school, and their safety is the school’s responsibility at that point. How could they not investigate when a non-school person was able to be on the property, and lift a child over the fence, a protective barrier and boundary? Trying to figure out how that happened is eminently reasonable, and I would want to know the answer were that my child, or anyone else’s. If that is irrational, so be it. I don’t get why some want to make an otherwise reasonable reaction out to be something way more than it is.

    Why are those like JWB, Mr Black, etc so ANGRY about this?

    JD (3b5483)

  78. I’m not angry, but I understand the anger. There is this presumption that a strange MAN interacting with unrelated children, is inherently suspicious. ANY interaction is enough to set off the suspicion. And once the suspicion attaches, it can follow you, destroy your life. The reality is that in most scenarios, if a woman help the child in this circumstance, nobody would even think twice about it. That’s just a fact. Their actions would not be minutely scrutinized, with satellite imagery to decide whether there was any other possible alternative to her actions. No, she’d be a mom helping out another mom’s kid. But if it’s a guy, “we just need to be safe” is the watchword.

    Would anybody admit they would behave differently in this scenario if it was a woman instead of a man? No, of course not. But they would. And that reaction is different today than it was just 30 years ago.

    The problem is precisely because you are so adamantly convinced that your reaction is rational. Your reaction is that every single significant interaction between a strange adult and your child is suspicious and must be answered by that adult. That’s historically a very, very different attitude than we’ve had, certainly since when I was a kid. It’s a presumption of potential guilt, rather than a presumption of innocence. Legally, that’s ok, because you’re certainly not advocating locking someone up just for the interaction. But you want an investigation of some sort. Maybe by the police, maybe just by the teacher. You want more than “hey, the school should make the fence taller.” You want answers to that specific interaction. You have bought into the current culture that is antagonistic to the “free range children” movement.

    Me, I don’t want my kids to live in a world where their simple, basic interaction with a helpful stranger can lead to that stranger being questioned by police.

    PatHMV (3c5fde)

  79. I am so F@CKING tired of people arguing like Obama. If you want to disagree, great! But don’t attribute a position to me that I do not hold and then rail against that. It is dishonest.

    JD (3b5483)

  80. I went to grade school in the 1960’s and adults didn’t lift children they didn’t know over a schoolyard fence. Discipline was still the rule so teachers decided whether kids left the schoolyard, not adults passing by. At most, that passing adult would have thrown a ball back into the schoolyard. IMO schools could use more discipline and less zero tolerance.

    DRJ (e80d46)

  81. Heh. And I could use less bold. Apparently formatting isn’t my skill today.

    DRJ (e80d46)

  82. Good grief! I can’t believe that I spent precious time reading all the discussion here about a non-problem. If the poor man is guilty of nothing more than helping a child retrieve a ball (and no one is alleging anything else happened) then why the need to investigate anything? Make sure the child says, “Thank you” and be glad for the kindness of strangers.

    Margaret (b5205a)

  83. It takes effort to miss the points made by that much.

    JD (eb9bcd)

  84. JD, where exactly did I miss your point? I’m not angry, I’m trying very hard to answer your question, about the cause for the anger you’ve suggested others have. I’m not trying to put words into your mouth or to argue against straw men. Clearly I have failed in that effort, and do not understand the point you are trying to make.

    I wasn’t there. I don’t know exactly what happened or what I would have done in the same circumstance. But I have a BIG problem with calling the police to investigate something like this, based on what I’ve read in the article.

    In my experience, when stories like this that hit the national attention point, the discussions and debates extend farther the exact, specific circumstances at issue. Here, none of us were there. So we can’t know how we would judge the situation. The issue is more whether we, in general, inherently trust the viewpoint of the school official who decided to call the police and whether in general we support the principle of “better safe than sorry” when it comes to questioning strangers who talk to our children.

    Here, based on my own experiences and those of close family in dealing with the educational system over the past 20 years, I do NOT trust the teachers and principles and other school officials to make reasonable decisions. They are hamstrung by fear of lawsuits and bureaucratic processes. Not all schools are like that, but many school districts as a whole are, in my opinion. And so I don’t trust their judgment or evaluation of the situation.

    If I have mischaracterized your position, I certainly apologize, and I would appreciate your clarifying your position for me.

    PatHMV (3c5fde)

  85. OH MY GODDDDDD!!!

    A **man** actually TOUCHED A CHILD !?!?!?!?

    How horrifying!!!

    I can see the reason for the concern — who KNOWS what evil lurked in that man’s heart !!!

    Thank ALL THAT’S HOLY that the teacher was there to STOP this VILE PERVERT from touching the boy a second time!!!

    Yeesh.

    Dana, people need to stop PRESUMING that every single solitary MAN on this fucking planet is a god-damned PEDOPHILE lurking around with nothing else to do but molest children 24/7/365.

    It’s beyond ridiculous.

    This is the legacy of Janet Reno and Feminism.

    IGotBupkis, "Si tacuisses, philosophus mansisses." (225d0d)

  86. I hope you are not suggesting that I am fear-mongering, rather I am asking reasonable questions that I would think most people would be curious about. I would like to hear your response to them.

    I cannot speak for JWB, but my first reaction to your request is a polite “Fuck off”. The questions aren’t worthy of the respect involved in a response.

    I don’t think you are intentionally fear-mongering, but that, in the end, is all that is behind them.

    I can come up with “Well, why didn’t you/he/she do this?” questions about ANY scenario that you create that wind up making it sound as though there were nefarious motives involved. It’s called “paranoid thinking“.

    And it’s unfortunately become a common societal mode of thought, not just about men but about anyone deemed “the enemy”. Like Republicans. Or conservatives.

    Since you cannot really defend yourself against these ideas — they come from true paranoia, not rational estimation of the situation — any effort at defense only feeds the paranoia.

    So no, it’s wrong to answer your questions.

    IGotBupkis, "Si tacuisses, philosophus mansisses." (225d0d)

  87. sweet mother of pickles it’s just an anecdote

    LOL, wonder of wonders, I’m with happyfeet on this one, for once…

    Except I give even fewer pikachu craps.

    IGotBupkis, "Si tacuisses, philosophus mansisses." (225d0d)

  88. But that was a long time ago and environments change, society changes and neighborhoods change

    No, Dana, peoples’ ATTITUDES have changed.

    This whole nanny-state helicopter parent movement comes from paranoid thinking. Just like someone else mentioned with regard to an open-carry situation.

    It’s driven by the same liberal idiocy that tries to turn the world into an utterly safe place, when it’s not, and, by doing so, is socially destructive because it leaves everyone with ill-feelings about one another AND ill-prepared for the real world. It leaves you imagining that the government is somehow going to protect you from things (because no child molesters work for the government) and thus that, in the event of any questioning, the government has the power to take away kids to a “safer” environment. Hey, it’s just the Pascal Principle at work… right?

    I have a friend. His wife has a teaching degree. Her mother has a teaching degree (so does his mother, and he’s now a teacher, though he was not at the time of the incident this story is about).

    Anywho, they figured they could use her teaching degree, along with assistance from the mother, and their large fenced-in back yard, to have her stay at home, care for the kids, and, at the same time, care for the kids of other people — not many, as many as 4-5 other kids in addition to their own. Enough extra money to help pay expenses.

    All went fine for a couple years. Then one couple noticed a bruise on their kid’s arm. This was not a large bruise, nor something obvious, like a hand. It was a single spot about an inch in diameter, on the child’s arm. Now, a rational person would do one of two things:
    1) They’d write it off as a kid thing — kids get bruises all the time.
    2) They’d pull their kid out of that environment.

    But no, the latter was not enough. They reported it to Child Protective Services. CPS came around and investigated.

    Nothing was found. But the facts of the situation were such that, if any other complaint was received, CPS could not only shut them down — But take away their own children. So if one of their OWN kids wound up injured while playing, and that wound up in the ER and the ER reported it, then suddenly they could lose their own kids, just because of some bruising on a child’s arm.

    Because, as I said, children never, ever do anything that might lead to getting bruises. Bruises only come from parental abuse.

    Needless to say, they didn’t need the money enough to risk losing their kids to some BULLSHIT complaint to some c-sucking government official who doesn’t ACTUALLY care about the kids as much as their own STATS on children “rescued” from a “questionable” environment.

    We’ve gone to the opposite extreme from totally ignoring abuses to being Chicken Little about the smallest injuries. And that’s even worse, because, once again, we’re handing extreme power over to the GOVERNMENT which it can apply for the merest excuses. Faced with losing their children, most parents will surrender to the bureaucrat’s diktat.

    IGotBupkis, "Si tacuisses, philosophus mansisses." (225d0d)

  89. Conservatives need to push back against this sort of thinking because its the same failed logic used against gun owners.

    This.

    Milhouse (bdebad)

  90. When I had small children, they ran and played and checked in throughout the summer days. But that was a long time ago and environments change, society changes and neighborhoods change. What may have been considered safe at one time, may not be at another.

    And there lies the insanity. Every person who claims that what was acceptable then must be questioned now because the world is a more dangerous place is disconnected from reality, and shouldn’t be allowed out without a minder. The world is not a more dangerous place than it was 40 years ago, it’s actually a safer place, and we should remember that, and not panic at things that didn’t bother our parents or grandparents.

    Because fear is easily communicated to children, and it’s not healthy to grow up afraid. It’s not healthy even when there’s actual reason to be afraid, like if you’re growing up in Stalin’s Russia, or in Sderot; but then your parents have no choice but to raise you that way. It’s certainly not healthy when there’s no real reason to be afraid, but your parents have bad imaginations.

    Milhouse (bdebad)

  91. I live in a part of the world which is more dangerous than it was 40 years ago. On average, two children are murdered here daily. I would want the person tasked with looking after my child to confront anyone who reached over a school fence and picked them up.

    If America is indeed safer today than it was 40 years ago, might it not be as a result of greater public awareness and reporting of suspicious behaviour – and picking up a child, instead of a ball, is suspicious behaviour.

    Charlotte in South Africa (a245be)

  92. Um, there’s an obvious reason why South Africa is a more dangerous place now than it was 40 years ago; that you seem afraid to acknowledge it just makes it more obvious.

    Milhouse (bdebad)

  93. Is that your way of acknowledging you were wrong when you stated the world is safer than it was 40 years ago?

    Charlotte in South Africa (321841)

  94. No, the world is much safer than it was 40 years ago. South Africa is not, for reasons you know very well.

    Milhouse (bdebad)

  95. Maybe the Western world is a bit safer Milhouse, but Africa, the Middle East and some of South America I’m not so sure about.

    Hoagie (f4eb27)

  96. tip of the hat to South Africans for the ingenuity required to come up with the spring-loaded, heavy duty, ankle-breaking bars deployed to “discourage” car theft a few years back.

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  97. Other than in war zones and South Africa, where in Africa, the Middle East, or South America is it lesss safe now than it was 40 years ago? Specifically in a way that should make parents worry more about their children than parents did 40 years ago.

    Milhouse (bdebad)


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