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Adult Protection (as well as Child Protection)

(27 Posts)
NotADaddy Mon 19-Sep-16 01:03:53

Hello Mumsnet,
This will be rather a long post: I want to try to create a full context for the ultimate question which is, "Child Protection is a serious & important issue. But what can the adult do to ensure Adult Protection".

There's rather a lot to this scenario and it might seem rambling: but hopefully the complete picture should gel.

Here's a starting thought. I'm a single male with no children. I'd love to have a child or children. So far so good. I love children. Question: do you understand why that feels like a really awkward thing for a single middle aged male to say?

I love children's inquisitiveness, I love to chat to them about the things going on in their little lives. I love to introduce little threads of learning like a school teacher might do. I'm very well educated and I know that my interest in knowledge and tons of practical skills/hobbies/crafts was very much ignited by inspirational adults in my early life. Many people have said to me I'd make a great teacher. Maybe if I could go back in time a little I'd go down that career route.

Where I live is classed as one of the most deprived parts of the UK. There is a wide social spectrum. Roughly speaking one quarter homeowning professionals, one quarter with chronic drug/alcohol addiction issues, one quarter chronic unemployed with mental health problems and one quarter supplementing job hopping with criminal activity. There are several social housing units specially for people with mental health or addiction problems, so if you'll forgive my flippancy there is a lot of 'crazy' round about here.

I am self employed. I have an adorable dog who loves people and who people who love dogs love. Children love my dog. Readers will hopefully appreciate that there is a world of difference between having a loveable dog that loves people, and having a fictional basket of puppies in the woods that your mother told me it's okay for you to come and pet. (Charlie says...)

My neighbour's daughter is six. Her mother has social anxiety and a second child with very complex special needs who requires constant attention. The little girl adores my dog - my dog adores her. I am very fond of her: she's a smart, funny little thing. Her father is the worst kind of absentee father. Her gran is around most hours of most days but she has learning disabilities and no grandparenting skills other than feeding her granddaughter copious sweets. The grandmother is also highly suggestible. If I told her that the six foot tall black man who lives round the corner was actually an albino dwarf she'd run with that.

The little girl craves attention, friends and company. With her mother's consent I've introduced her to friend's children of the same age and she's made two good friends from this. Prior to this she was rarely outside of her flat and had no friends besides at school.

She talks about her father quite often, "he's going to get me a bike for Christmas", "he's coming to see me today", "he came to see me yesterday" etc. These are all fictional stories (sadly). It's very sad. It's also worth noting that she tells lots of these stories, which I suppose is typical of a six year old.

She'd love me to be her daddy. I'd love to be her daddy but that's not feasible and that's not going to happen.

I walk my dog four or five times a day. She waits for me coming out and desperately wants me to invite her along. A few times she's come: usually when I know a female neighbour/friend is able to bring their dog and chaperone. A few times she's come along with just me (with her mother's full agreement: I'm at pains to say where we're going (the park), how long we'll be, that I have my mobile (and the mother has my number).

On one occassion I've been asked, "is this your daughter?" and I say "no, she's my neighbour's little girl" and I introduce her. On another occassion a woman with serious mental health issues (who aside from that is a deeply nasty, vile, spiteful woman well known to the local police) asked why I had the little girl with me. I explained that she loved coming out for a walk (instead of being constantly couped up in her flat) and that I enjoyed her coming along: and this woman's response was that her mother was taking the p*ss out of me and getting me to be a free babysitter. There was no comprehension that I might be doing it as a 'nice thing to do' or that I might like the fact that the little girl enjoyed coming along.

This woman (with the serious mental health issues) also craves my company/attention and walked with us completely ignoring the little girl and blocking conversations between me and the little girl. I can add that this woman has two grown children who were raised solely by their father for reasons I can only guess at.

Other than these two examples, there is a prevailing puzzlement by people that I should be taking my neighbour's daughter on walks to a park.

In the world in which we live my concern is that people misconstrue (through ignorance, through mental health issues, through their own not-rose-but-grubby-grey-tinted-glasses, through their own pathetic attempts at parenting, through their own dubious predelictions) my actions. There is more I could write to evidence my take on this: but there is a troubling number of people I've encountered who are puzzled by an adult taking the time to interact with a child.

In short they cannot quite grasp the concept of positive interaction between a child and an adult neighbour, in the context of their own muddled up existences or their deranged 84"-telly-with-full-Sky-package-out-of-Brighthouse priorities.

So now when I go a walk with my dog on a beautiful day and this little girl is hovering around hoping, hoping, hoping that I'll invite her along (and go through my extensive checklist with her mother), and she asks in a round-about-way if she can come, "I think Spot (not my dog's real name) would like me to come a walk with you to the park" I tell her that I'm sorry, she can't come, not unless a grown-up like her mum can come with us. She doesn't argue the point about me being a grown-up because, bless her, she's only six and that confuses the bejesus out of her.

I read a lot, I've worked in professions where Child Protection and having an up to date criminal record check were essentials: so I know all about Child Protection and I am so glad it exists nowadays. I wish it had been more of a thing when I was growing up. That's another thread.

The problem here isn't Child Protection: my intentions could not be more correct. But I'm a single, middle-aged male. This little girl's mother trusts me absolutely - and she is right to do so. If I was a single, middle-aged female I know I'd feel completely unworried by this. Let's be frank: neither would you. Right?

But it's the age we live in. This is an issue of Adult Protection.

I've lived in my neighbourhood for a long time. I had a serious issue where a person with diagnosed paranoid schizophrenia spread a rumour throughout the entire neighbourhood that I worked in undercover law enforcement. I don't. I completely and obviously do not. It's a complete delusion. However, in a neighbourhood that has seen five murders in as many years and where a significant group of people earn their living in the informal pharmaceutical trade and associated trades, and an even more significant group of locals are patrons of the informal pharmaceutical trade and associated trades- that's a potentially deadly rumour. I've had a long discussion with the Police about this and for the first time in my adult life I find myself having (formal) pharmaceutical assistance to help me not worry or be preoccupied with this remote-but-realrisk to my life. It's also worth adding that a relative of the person who initiated this rumour is currently "staying with the Queen" for the murder of a random man who was out shopping in the local high street one day and never returned home due to a kitchen knife in his abdominal aorta.

The person who started this rumour has no scruples or ability for rational thought. So when a highly educated, childless, well-spoken, trustworthy, employed male adult takes an unrelated child (who lives next door) on walks in the park because he values children, because he marvels at their potential, because he appreciates that any six year old can become anything he/she wants in life with the right encouragement and inspiration, and because the child loves his dog, loves being allowed to hold the leash, has an absentee sh*t of a father and wants nothing more than a bit of attention: there is a rather obvious rumour that any self-respecting-paranoid-schizophrenic-alcoholic would be delighted to start. Do I need to spell it out? It starts with a p.

Recently I wondered about asking the little girl's mum if she thought about having her christened. I am an atheist, but I could set that aside and be her godfather. Then I could say, "this is my god-daughter" instead of "this little girl is unrelated to me, she lives upstairs, so make of that what you will during your brief moments of lucidity or sobriety you poor excuse for a human being".

What is the answer to this? At the moment the solution in place is for me to say time and time again, "no, I'm sorry, you can't come along without a grown-up". That's a solution. But is it the solution?

I'm really keen to write an article along these lines on "Adult Protection in a world of child abuse" (working title only!). Is there anyone out there intersted in collaborating or editing with a view to getting something into a national magazine or newspaper?

I know what it needs to say and I know I can draft it better. I think it's an important topic for debate.

But above all I'm desperate to know of a way for me to interact (positively) with this little girl without feeling that the world is watching me and judging me? Or that twenty years from now I might find myself being judged in a world where allegation and fact are one and the same. Where "there's no smoke without fire". Where, thanks to Mr Savile, cigar smoke and fire really, actually, are one and the same.

So. How do I become that middle-aged childless man who loves children (but not in that way), who wants to interact with them and teach them things (but not those things) with a little dog who loves children and that children love (but not that middle-aged-man-with-a-basket-of-fictional-puppies-in-the-woods)?

I'm really looking forward to some input/debate around this please.

GiddyOnZackHunt Mon 19-Sep-16 01:11:12

Get a job working with children then hmm
And stop complaining about being judged while judging wildly yourself

AdaLovelacesCat Mon 19-Sep-16 01:13:48

sorry but you cannot, the UK is now too twisted.
Possibly if you move to Spain or similar.
You are very eloquent but you do seem to hold most of your neighbours in utter contempt.

AndNowItsSeven Mon 19-Sep-16 01:17:36

Adopt, single people are encouraged to adopt or foster.

NotADaddy Mon 19-Sep-16 01:20:59

To Giddy, that's a horrific answer and I can only dismiss you.
To Ada, justify how I hold most of my neighbours in contempt. Justify that? Where I live is in the top three "deprived" neighbourhoods in my nation of the UK. It gets that tag because of issues like substance abuse and mental health. There are at least three large social housing centres specifically for people with substance abuse or mental health issues within a half mile radius of my home. These aren't actually the issues. If you read and understood my post you'd understand it's about more of a national hysteria.

AdaLovelacesCat Mon 19-Sep-16 01:26:36

yes I read and understood your post, thank you, it wasn't difficult. hmm

Read it back yourself if you are not clear about how you are coming across.

For example why did we need to know about somebody being diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia? " The person who started this rumour has no scruples or ability for rational thought. " really? That's nice.

Why have you dismissed all your neighbours as being mental or unemployed or drug dealers? wtf. I am sure you are not the only semi educated person in the area.

PrincessHairyMclary Mon 19-Sep-16 01:26:47

You say "this is my friends daughter" and carry on your way.

If the mother is happy for you to take her daughter out then that's all that matters.

If you enjoy being with children join a group scouts or a youth group etc and help out.

Stop judging your neighbours or move out of an area you clearly aren't happy living in.

NotADaddy Mon 19-Sep-16 01:31:39

To Andnowitsseven: that's a one sentence non-answer to my post. Were I to foster or adopt I'd have to sell my home and buy a new larger home. I haven't suggested I want to foster or adopt. I've detailled a scenario where my neighbourhood (or maybe society at large) makes it impossible for me to safely take a neighbour's child to the park while walking my dog.

Isn't this an expert Q&A section? Any intelligent person would say that an expert response to a lengthy, detailled scenario would not comprise one poorly crafted sentence. I honestly thought mumsnet was something different to Yahoo Answers or the like.

AdaLovelacesCat Mon 19-Sep-16 01:34:04

the thing is that people on this forum really deconstruct posts, and they do not like the sound of you.

NotADaddy Mon 19-Sep-16 01:35:35

No PrincessMary: if her mother is happy for her child to come a walk with me that is not all that matters. Try to imagine this from the perspective of a male. Do you honestly not see any difference? Aside from Melissa George, it's fine to leave your children in the care of an unknown female. But aren't all unrelated males bogeymen? Isn't that the immediate reaction of everyone (male or female) when things go wrong?

This is hopeless. I was expecting intelligent debate and conversation.

Get off your momma-high-horses and see the thread for what it is.

NotADaddy Mon 19-Sep-16 01:36:32

Ada, you say "they" do not like the sound of you. Who are you speaking for? Who have you checked in with? You're beyond offensive.

AdaLovelacesCat Mon 19-Sep-16 01:39:01

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

astormgivenflesh Mon 19-Sep-16 01:58:15

I think what you're looking for on this thread is validation that you are, indeed, a fantastic guy who manages to be the only intelligent adult in an area riddled with judgemental schizophrenics and drug dealers. That might sound harsh, and I apologise but the undertone of the post seems to be very much in the vein of desperately needing confirmation that you aren't a menace to children and to congratulate you on your altruism because you've taken a little girl to the park. There is a definite sense that you hold yourself above them all because you are 'highly intelligent' - if that is not the case, perhaps revisit the words you've written and consider how they may come across to someone reading them.

You do have an opportunity to be a positive presence in this girls life but to assume that no one else is is incredibly hurtful and disrespectful to those around her who may be trying their best and love her very much. I think the godparent idea is lovely actually, and would definitely be a way of constructing a relationship between the two of you that is more conventional and comes with attached understandings and conventions that mean your uncomfortable/awkward attempts at 'justifying' your walks together cease to be an issue. I don't see why simply saying 'a friends daughter' is a problem, or why you'd concern yourself with the misinterpretations of strangers anyway, but if this gives you some peace of mind or validates your relationship in some way, then perhaps suggest it. However, it seems like you might need to work on building a relationship with the mother before you insert yourself into the family dynamic - again, I apologise if this isn't the case but there is a definite sense of ~male saviour in your tone, like you alone, this intelligent beacon of human righteousness can install order to this chaotic family who only feed the poor child sweets and let her hang out with strangers.

DioneTheDiabolist Mon 19-Sep-16 02:04:54

Put an Ad in the local paper/shops/FB pages asking for dog owners, children, parents, the lonely and anyone else who is interested to meet up for walks/park visits at a certain time 2 days a week.

Numbers provide a certain amount of safety. If your neighbourhood is as shitty as you say, there will be lots of people who would appreciate the opportunity to get out and get to know others in a safe, organised way.

It will provide some safety for you and the wee girl, as well as improving the lives of many more in your community. Thereby improving the atmosphere for all.

And that would be a good thing.smile

WickedLazy Mon 19-Sep-16 02:06:58

You sound like you're grooming this child, and hoping to seek a way to do so without the local residents alarm bells ringing. "It's fine, I'm her Godfather!".

"Recently I wondered about asking the little girl's mum if she thought about having her christened. I am an atheist, but I could set that aside."

Imagine someone else wrote that and read it back to yourself...

You set the scene of a place full of nuts, with wacky personal vendetta's against you, make sure to describe the woman as anxious (so not just letting her kid go off with just anybody), yourself as an upstanding citizen. You seem to have an unhealthy interest in this little girls life, sexual or otherwise. confused

Adult protection means you introduce children to other children they might like, talk to them over the garden fence, have a chat with them when you see them out and about, and if lonely, seek out the company of other adults. If you're so worried about the little girl, report the situation. If you befriend children you aren't related to, or whose parents you don't really know very well, you'll open yourself up to scrutiny. Adult protection is not putting yourself in a position where you can be accused of anything.

WickedLazy Mon 19-Sep-16 02:12:09

"I think the godparent idea is lovely actually, and would definitely be a way of constructing a relationship between the two of you that is more conventional and comes with attached understandings and conventions that mean your uncomfortable/awkward attempts at 'justifying' your walks together cease to be an issue"

Am I the only one that thinks this is a bit mad? A random neighbour whose dog a local kid follows to the park, who doesn't believe in God, who couldn't call the parents friends, wanting to be that childs Godfather? confused

NovemberInDailyFailLand Mon 19-Sep-16 02:15:17

*This is hopeless. I was expecting intelligent debate and conversation.

Get off your momma-high-horses and see the thread for what it is*

I appreciate your basic point, OP, but you sound incredibly contemptuous, not only of you neighbours, but how you are (now) proceeding to address women.
Is this, perhaps, the reason you are single?

astormgivenflesh Mon 19-Sep-16 02:18:27

Wickedlazy- oh yeah, it's definitely weird and I'd run a mile if a random man I barely knew asked me if I'd arrange a christening just so he could take my child to the park and not feel like a pervert

BUT I meant the idea in theory was lovely, and I could understand WHY it would work in a scenario where he wanted to establish an immediate bond between himself and the child to strangers who asked. The fact is, i can't see it happening as he seems to demonstrate such contempt for the family hence the ~male saviour comment, and why would they want to?!

KimmySchmidtsSmile Mon 19-Sep-16 02:21:36

Sorry OP but you have posted this far too early in the morning and in the wrong section. There will be parents on here who are involved in Child Protection and who can also advise on safeguarding while protecting yourself when acting loco parentis but you need to come back tomorrow preferably with a shorter and less judgemental opening post.

WickedLazy Mon 19-Sep-16 02:22:14

"could understand WHY it would work in a scenario where he wanted to establish an immediate bond between himself and the child to strangers who asked."

The fact it could work worries me, but not as much as the op's motivation.

astormgivenflesh Mon 19-Sep-16 02:26:57

wickedlazy - very valid and worrying thought tbh. I was working on assumption that op was (--smug, self righteous and indignant, but ultimately)-- harmless but can totally see how this whole situation can be anything but confused

WickedLazy Mon 19-Sep-16 02:44:31

The op has portrayed the little girl as quite vulnerable, and perhaps emotionally and otherwise neglected. "Craving attention".

Op has also already established that the little girl is a known liar. Unlikely to be believed about certain matters.

"The problem here isn't Child Protection: my intentions could not be more correct."

The issue is very much Child Protection here.

DioneTheDiabolist Mon 19-Sep-16 02:51:49

The best way to protect a vulnerable child is to give her a safe community with lots of adults and other children, knowing and looking out for her.

BillSykesDog Mon 19-Sep-16 03:22:46

I wouldn't leave my child with a woman I didn't know.

I also have to say, after reading that post, I don't think I would leave my child with you even if I knew you quite well.

If you come across IRL the same way you do in that post...I don't think you're aware of the way you come across. You seem quite arrogant and superior and rather given to flights of fancy and exaggeration. And, well, just odd. And yes, if you are a bit of an odd local man then people may well be suspicious of you - in just the way that you are suspicious and make presumptions about some of your neighbours. You do the same thing yourself.

Enjoy your walks with this little girl with a chaperone. That's not society having it in for you, that's just sensible precautions and good parenting. Children aren't normally abused by strangers, but by relatives and family friends - people the family know quite well. CRB checks don't mean much - Jimmy Savile would have had a clean one. And it doesn't seem to me that this family know you well enough to have absolute confidence that you are totally safe. Rather than complaining you need to be chaperoned, you should just be happy that your little friend is cared about enough to be kept safe.

And as far as being seen as a kindly friend rather than a pervert - do what everybody else does. Spend time with the child in an appropriate manner and in appropriate places - so around other people, with family in public places. That's just a sensible precaution from everybody's point of view.

KingofnightvisionKingofinsight Mon 19-Sep-16 03:24:22

OP I have to be completely honest. Based on what you've written, I wouldn't leave my child with you. It's not bc I think you're an undercover cop or whatever other ridiculousness you described (I skimmed). You just seem like a very self-important, judgmental, and frankly odd person. You are probably lovely on the inside but I take no chances with my kids. I have a feeling you wouldn't be in need of "adult protection" if you just toned things down a bit. Nobody cares whose kid you are with unless there are other red flags.

And the whole baptism thing? OMG I just can't.

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