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How much responsibilty should we take for other people's children?

(48 Posts)
givenupforlent Sat 12-Feb-05 19:14:45

After WWW's incident this week and my incident today, just how much responsibility should we take for others' children?

Twiglett Sat 12-Feb-05 19:17:30

I think you have to take the kind of responsibility for other people's children you would want them to take for yours if they found them alone

WideWebWitch Sat 12-Feb-05 19:24:27

I have to say I'd think twice (if there was a next time) before I just talked to a child on his/her own again. I like to think I'd still do the same and check they were ok but actually, the fact that I did caused me a hell of a lot of personal hassle and grief this week. And I'm not sure it will have made any difference whatsoever to that child or his life. It's a bloody sad world we live in (sorry to trot out a cliche but they become cliches because they're true sometimes) where people don't look out for others peoples' children but I now know why they don't. This incident has really made me think about my view on this tbh.

WideWebWitch Sat 12-Feb-05 19:25:23

and I'd really love to know what the official line is on this. What do social services/the police/nspcc think we should all do?

Demented Sat 12-Feb-05 19:26:10

Having had my two year, last week, old wriggle under the toilet door (I couldn't grab him it was a big cubicle and I knew the doors out of the toilet were heavy and didn't think he could open them), then to my horror (as I was on the loo at the time) hear him open both of the doors out of the toilet, out into the leisure centre foyer (obviously I got out pretty darn quick behind him), where there is an automatic door, I saw him disappearing out of the door (at which point I dropped everything and sprinted) which led to a main road. As it was fortunately I was able to grab him before he got too far but when I went back into the leisure centre I saw a number of people just frozen and when I think of it I hope none of them were delaying going after him or grabbing him out of fear of reproach.

My DH so often worries about talking to children or helping them in any way in case anyone thinks he is a paedolphile and I know my Dad worries similarly.

I am also wary of interferring but think I would have acted similarly to WWW and givenupforlent if I was in the situation.

WideWebWitch Sat 12-Feb-05 19:30:01

Demented, dp said he absolutely wouldn't have talked to that boy last week because he is male. And had it been the week before, he was the one being a sahp and doing the school run, not me.

oxocube Sat 12-Feb-05 19:32:09

Have just added my bit to your other thread! Am unsure TBH. My kids go to a school (which is an international school because we don't live in Britain) but this school, by its nature is reasonably small, everyone knows each other, at least to speak to, and everyone looks out for everyone else's kids. To my knowledge, there are no parents who would act like the parents of this child. I probably give my kids more freedom and responsibility than most. Possibly, this colours my judgement regarding taking responsibility for other peoples' kids. I also know that we are very lucky and am not sure that I could not feel responsible for a child who did not have the loving environment that my children have. (sorry, badly worded but you get the gist)

Twiglett Sat 12-Feb-05 19:32:14

sadly I think it is different for men .. but as women we have to step in when we see a child in potential danger

I do understand what you mean though www

oxocube Sat 12-Feb-05 19:36:45

WWW, its tragic (and again, NOT a criticism) if an adult man cannot walk up to a child who may be lost or distressed for fear of what people might think or because of horrible potential consequences. What does this say about our society?

LapsedGymJunkie Sat 12-Feb-05 19:41:53


Where in the world are you??

oxocube Sat 12-Feb-05 19:44:38


misdee Sat 12-Feb-05 19:45:29

was in homebase today with my other sister, and we npoticed this little boy of about 5years old had latched onto us and was walking round the store with us. he was quite happy and chatty, and tbh i dont think anyone would've batted an eyelid if we had taken him out of the shop. i asked him where his mum and dad were and he just shrugged. other people werent concerned at all. i was about to leave dd1 with my sister and walk the boy round to customer services for them to put a call out to his mum/dad to collect when his mum came round the corner. he had been following us for at least 10mins and she didnt even seen concerned, just asked him if he was looking for a new family in a jokey way.

SenoraPostrophe Sat 12-Feb-05 19:46:39

I've ranted about this before: in the UK in general we don't take enough responsibility for other people's children (www being an exception).

In Spain no-one thinks twice before talking to a child (whether alone or not). Mostly that's because there is much less paranoia about peadophiles here, but I think also there's a very British thing about minding one's own beeswax. People in the street stop me all the time to give me valuable advice such as "you should give that child a dummy" (she sucks her thumb) or "there is snot". I know i'm not in the UK with dd often, but that kind of thing seems much less common. Also i have never ever been given a dirty look for smiling at a child here : I have in the UK.

oxocube Sat 12-Feb-05 19:47:52

Senora, I know exactly what you mean Same here

soapbox Sat 12-Feb-05 19:52:42

This is a really hard one - given WWW's experience last week.

I think that I would want to do what I would want others to do for me - as Twiglett says. However, I do wonder now whether I would for an older child (older than 5 say) who did not appear distressed to be by himself.

I think I have to accept that other people's parenting is different from mine and they expect their children to look out for themselves at an age where I think they are still young children. My DD will be 7 in June - I would rip limbs from my body rather than having her roam the streets on her own Clearly some parents don't share my views.

If it was a younger child or one who was distressed, I would probably take them to the nearest police station, or school. If nothing else it would be a lesson for the parents if they were the type to let their kids roam free. If they were the concerned type then they would probably be very grateful that they had been taken to a place of safety!

It is so difficult to bear isn;t it - the thought that these kids have such thoughtless and uncaring parents

milkbar Sat 12-Feb-05 19:54:14

I was in woolies the other day and lost dd (3)- one minute she was right next to me discussing socks the next she was gone. It was terrifying - because tbh I didn't know how long she had been gone for (seconds,a minute? two? more?) I told a shop assistant who walkie talkied all the other staff.

She had run out into the busy street, someone had spotted her and brought her back into the shop and told the staff. Thank God.

It taught me a lesson. And made me VERY glad someone else had 'interfered' and seen that she shouldn't have been there on her own.

sobernow Sat 12-Feb-05 20:00:26

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SeaShells Sat 12-Feb-05 20:01:29

The common thinking these days is that anyone who talks to your child is 'a paedophile' mostly due to all the media hype in the past few years. It doesn't seem accepted these days to approach children, which is so sad, this is a catch 22 really, because what if a child is in need of help and no-one feels right helping them! The kind of parents who are like the ones who WWW encountered are the ones who don't look after their own children properly and those are the children who are most at risk! What can you do really when the parents don't do their bit to protect their kids?

Podmog Sat 12-Feb-05 20:02:31

Message withdrawn

roisin Sat 12-Feb-05 20:08:25

I often interevene with children - e.g. questioning them if they're heading in the opposite direction from school, telling them off if they're up to mischief, that sort of thing. And I like to think that other people would do the same for mine if necessary. But I did find WWW's experiences very shocking, as when I think about it we do have parents round here who might react similarly.

However, I would have no hesitation in turning away a child who knocked at the door uninvited (during the day) if it was not convenient for them to come and play.

givenupforlent Sat 12-Feb-05 20:24:30

Roisin - that's one of the things I was battling with. When he actually did come into my house I was presumably responsible for his safety (at least to ensure he came to no harm) hence I felt I couldnt turf him out even when his parents said he should walk home

rickman Sat 12-Feb-05 20:26:45

Message withdrawn

LapsedGymJunkie Sat 12-Feb-05 20:30:29

Sorry OXO you sound like my darling Cousin who I am trying to tempt on here, she is in the Middle East and could do with the support. Got a bit giddy at the fact that all my nagging may have paid off. Sadly not

KatieinSpain Sat 12-Feb-05 21:11:29

Stood in a playground in London, last summer, holding someone else's 2 year old, so he could see and find "Daddy", but I was aware that I might get the response that WWW got this week, rather than thanks.

Totally agree with Senorapostrophe, in Spain you expect everyone to interact with your kids but it is definitely more hands-off in the UK. Sad? Of course, it is.

I think, you can only do what you feel is right, even when you know you might get it in the neck. Like someone else said on WWW's thread, I still wonder how those people who didn't step in with Jamie Bulger ever dealt with it.

I really think WWW and givenupforlent should be proud of being caring and responsible adults - the very best of role models and not just for their kids. I'd like my boys to know you - .

suedonim Sat 12-Feb-05 21:39:46

I think this is a vexed Q nowadays, sadly. Podmog's suggestion is also what I'd do - call in reinforcements asap, even if it meant phoning the police. Sometimes I've watched a child, apparently on its own, without speaking to it, in the hope that a parent will appear.

One really sad case I know of, more akin to Givenupforlent's experience is a friend's neighbour. This little boy's mother died of cancer when he was less than two. Dad then acquired a gf, whose mother used to help look after the child. Gf and dad split up and now dad just puts the child outdoors each morning and tells him not to come back until 7pm. My friend was childless when this started and the boy used to come round to her house to ask if her dog was coming out to play. He then used to visit all the other houses, looking for somewhere to go. SS weren't particularly interested as they didn't regard him as being abused, no drugs involved or anything. That's good old-fashioned neglect, imo.

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