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'We approach others' children at our peril'

(40 Posts)
Aranea Sun 16-Aug-09 21:16:48

In the Sunday Times today

I got a bit depressed reading this.... what do you think?

themoon66 Sun 16-Aug-09 21:20:12

I read this in sunday times this morning. Very depressing, but pretty much correct I think. And that's the impression I get from hanging around mumsnet most days.

tatt Sun 16-Aug-09 21:24:50

depressing, true - but caused by those who work in the industry that dealing with children has become.

kathyis6incheshigh Sun 16-Aug-09 21:26:32

Yes, it seemed pretty spot on to me. It's all been said before but it's good if people keep saying it.

wilkos Sun 16-Aug-09 21:27:49

too true, very sad really. at our local childrens farm i spoke sternly to a boy who was picking up the guinea pigs and then dropping them. he ran off to his mum and i suddenly thought - shit, what if she is some nut who's going to punch my face in. even though her son was being totally out of order and deserved a tongue lashing

what i'm saying is that we're not just afraid of kids, but afraid of each other as well sad

MollieO Sun 16-Aug-09 22:00:23

Gosh, I don't think like that and now I'm wondering if I should? We were out at a railway yesterday with a model railway section which you could put money in and see the trains work. Ds put some money in and the trains started. The machine had a red light above the coin slot that lit up when he put the money in.

Soon afterwards two older boys - 7 and 9 I reckon - came in and the older one said loudly that he was going to press the red button and stop the train. I waited for the father to say something. He didn't so I turned round and said (loud enough for the father to hear) that the red button wouldn't turn off the train and that wasn't a very nice thing to try and do. Neither boy answered nor did father. Didn't give it a second thought that I may have got punched for teaching some manners.

LovelyTinOfSpam Sun 16-Aug-09 22:26:32

Something brought this home to me the other day.

On the way back from the shops I spotted an older woman and a girl of about 14 taking photos of each other in our shopping precinct. Yikes! I thought, what loons, and clearly not from around here (precinct not v photogenic - one posed outside bay trading centre hmm).

Anyways DD1 was toddling along and the girl saw us, and came over and stood in front of us smiling. Then she bent down and patted DD and smiled at her. Then she smiled at me again. Then she bent and kissed DD on the top of her head and went back to the older woman.

My first thought was, briefly, crikey what a loon. My second was, well they're obviously not from the UK, presumably her behaviour was quite normal appreciation of a cute toddler in her part of the world.

Made me think - what a bloody shame that people can't go around kissing and petting toddlers here any more.

We really have withdrawn from each other totally. I think it is probably worsened by "british reserve" - any small amount of interaction that we were once comfortable with has gone. I hope not for good.

Morloth Mon 17-Aug-09 15:20:52

Good article, very accurate.

Just have a look around on Mumsnet and you can see it in action.

There was a thread on AIBU where a woman was complaining that someone told her child to not hit a baby. I mean really REALLY?!?!

I have told kid's off, but I won't touch a strange child. Not even if the child is in danger, it basically boils down to: The danger a kid is in, isn't worth the risk to me and my family of any "allegations" that might arise. It isn't right at all, and I would feel guilty if a child was hurt because of it. But I care about my family more than other people's kids. Totally as much a part of the problem as anyone else.

I notice the lack of men in schools and just generally involved in teaching, and I think it is awful - but I can understand why no man would want to risk it.

LovelyTinOfSpam Mon 17-Aug-09 15:34:47

Morloth wouldn't you even stop a toddler or baby about to wander off a cliff/10 foot wall/into traffic?

You are exaggerating?


alexpolismum Mon 17-Aug-09 15:35:56

I told off someone else's children the other day.

I was in a park with swings, slides, etc, with my 2 yr old ds. He was playing on a slide when a much older child (about 10 yrs old) came and started bullying him - he pushed him down the slide before he was ready, and then when ds was waiting at the top, the other child climbed up the slide (rather than the ladder) and waited in the middle so that ds couldn't go down.

I told the other child he should be ashamed of himself for picking on such a small boy and that the slide was there for all the children to play on, not just him. I saw a woman rushing over and braced myself for her attack, but she started giving the boy a right telling off. It just goes to show - you never know how people are going to react!

Morloth Mon 17-Aug-09 15:45:09

I probably would Spam but I would hesitate to do so - and that in itself is a tragedy.

The fact that it would even cross my mind is sad I think. Not in any way claiming that it is the right way to feel.

Wasn't there a park in South London a couple of years ago that wanted to ban "unaccompanied" men?

noddyholder Mon 17-Aug-09 15:49:55

Awful I agree.In the summer I went to an art sale in big posh local house.I bought 2 paintings and the girl taking the money was set up in a little room at a desk.i went in to pay and she had a little girl about 18 months in her arms and she was doing virtual somersaults out of her mums arms while she was trying to open the cash box to give me a reciept I reached out and said I'll hold her for you and she nearly took my head off and said DON'T TOUCH HER! I was shocked as was dp esp as she was a typical brighton twisty haired tree hugger type sad

MotheringHeights Mon 17-Aug-09 15:56:54

I certainly think we're getting odder with each other in general, but especially where children are concerned.

A few weeks ago I was standing beside a sandbox type thing that was a mocked up dig at a dinosaur exhibition. Besides me there was DS2, DD and another woman and her daughter. The daughter did something considerate and I said something appreciative to her. The other woman turned to her daughter and said "remember, we don't talk to strangers" and they both proceeded to ignore me.

reikizen Mon 17-Aug-09 16:00:16

I think articles like that contribute to people feeling that they shouldn't engage with others despite what their personal experience has shown them. It is our own responsibility to shape the world we want our children to grow up in, not back away and blame everyone else.

GrimmaTheNome Mon 17-Aug-09 16:02:08

I took DD swimming yesterday. Normal council unisex changing with cubicles arrangement. A lad a bit bigger than DD - maybe 12 - came up to me and asked if I'd help him put his locker key wristband on (they are a bit fiddly).

And I a thought, as I cheerfully obliged, blimey, how wonderfully normal - lad needs help and simply asks an adult for it. Even though we were all in swimming cossies. So at least there are some kids left with more sense than paranoia!

kathyis6incheshigh Mon 17-Aug-09 16:03:32

I tend to find myself being the person that rushes in to help a child these days because I sort of feel that as a mother myself I am seen as 'safer' than anyone else hence it is safer for me to do so than anyone else IYSWIM. ie any men around are going to expect me to do it rather than them, and with reason.

kathyis6incheshigh Mon 17-Aug-09 16:09:30

I don't know Reikizen - I just get on with it (ie talking to children in a sane way) and find it quite helpful to be reminded that on the few occasions where people have been off with me about it, it's because they are paranoid not because I am the one behaving weirdly.

When I was a student I was coming out of my college when a toddler fell over in the street in front of me. Parents were yards ahead not looking back and hadn't noticed. Toddler was lying there crying, I picked him up and put him on his feet again and was about to call out to parents when woman turned round, saw me with child and started yelling at me hmm. I was hugely upset by the whole incident at the time but now I would just think 'ah, you're part of the prevailing culture of paranoia'.

Ripeberry Mon 17-Aug-09 16:10:40

Loons! You give a compliment and the woman tells her DD to ignore anyone who talks to her. Now we know why teenagers are so sullen and scary for adults!
I'm going on a child protection course in September and this article has given me loads of ideas for questions on what are we doing to society as a whole?

msrisotto Mon 17-Aug-09 16:14:00

It is a shamebut very true. My OH said hello to a toddler at a supermarket or somewhere and her mum told him not to speak to her child. Kids aren't really allowed to speak to other adults now, especially men. Shock horror.

MotheringHeights Mon 17-Aug-09 16:45:06

reikizen, I'd always thought like you until recently, and I do still step up to help when someone needs it. The loopy mother at the museum isn't the only time I've run into responses I find baffling.

Another recent example was a middle-aged woman out for a brisk walk who swung her arm sharply to the side because her headphones were tangled and clocked DS2 one on the side of the head. She shouted at him shock and then told me he should be at home and not running wild anyway. He's 8, and he was out with me! I get that she was startled and reacted badly, but she seemed genuinely put out that we were also using the path.

The more children are kept inside to play, the greater the divide. It's like a sad kind of segregation.

I hate that so few children roam around and play, that while I'm happy to let my 10 year old go for a ride, there's nobody for him to ride with. If the world is so unsafe, and I don't believe it is, there has to be a better solution than keeping kids in and then hearing endless mutterings about childhood obesity and antisocial teens.

PrincessToadstool Mon 17-Aug-09 17:33:06

The world is full of idiots but the only way to change things is to lead by example, surely? I would hope that another parent would say something to my DS if he was unkind to another child in the park - and I also hope I'd do the same, but thinking about it, would I? Not sure... because those aforementioned idiots can look shockingly normal

wahwah Mon 17-Aug-09 18:13:02

I note that most of the paranoia relates to schools. Sadly most don't understand child protection (it's the new 'pc gone mad') and we end up in a situation where children feel unsure because the adults are insecure and unconfident. I think this fear and lack of proper boundaries creates an environment where allegations and paranoia thrive.

I still think most of us are sensible and judging by my local park and how children and adults from all backgrounds relate to each other, that seems to be the case.

GrimmaTheNome Mon 17-Aug-09 18:25:28

I have to say that IRL I do talk to people including kids, and helped them physically in playgrounds if needed, and I've never had any paranoid reactions. (I do always ask first if they want a hand, of course) I've also had offers of help eg when DD was 5 months old and I was trying to eat something while we were out, a very kind lady offered to hold DD - she said she knew what it was like! I was most grateful.

The thing is, that sort of normal small act of human kindness isn't newsworthy. We only hear the negatives. I don't intend to be put off behaving normally.

hocuspontas Mon 17-Aug-09 18:43:23

I don't think playing out on the streets is in the same category. It's the sheer number of cars, speeding or parked nose to tail, that have sounded the death knell for most children playing outside.

I was at my mum's today. I passed the road where I grew up, where you left go-karts and roller skates in the road while you went in and had tea, and it was chock-full of cars and some lunatic trying to beat the land speed record. Parents would be called neglectful if they let them play out there now!

MotheringHeights Tue 18-Aug-09 01:05:25

Hocuspontas, I just wish that our focus was on changing that instead of keeping kids in. We should make it too hard for cars to go fast, implement some of the strategies we know reduce traffic and speed, and make the streets safe again.

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