I took my 10 year old daughter to a local park yesterday. A nice rural park equipped with a nice array of playground equipment that sits cropped on the edge of a heavily wooded area with abundant nature trails. We arrived at the park, got out of our Jeep and we were laughing and ready for a short nature hike.
We went down the trail, into the woods and enjoyed a 20 minute walk through nature. Observing nature and talking about life. A really nice day with my girl. We exited the nature trail and headed toward the playground, passing an older woman with what was apparently her 3 grandchildren. Me and my daughter had the playground to ourselves where we had a great time playing for about 20-25 minutes. She said she was thirsty so we went to the Jeep to get a cold Pepsi. Just then the clouds opened up and it started raining, hard. Obviously our day out had come to an end so we packed up and drove off home. Which was only 3-5 minutes away. Once we got home we relaxed for about 20 minutes and started baking sugar cookies. Just then, a knock at the door. First thing I thought is "oooohhh I left my lights on and one of my neighbors is here to tell me my Jeep lights are on", which I clicked on due to the unusually heavy rain fall on the drive home.
The person at the door was a police officer. He asked if my name was Kenneth, I responded "yes".
"Were you just at the park with a little girl"?
"Yes, I was", I said.
"Is she here with you now"
"Yes, shes right there". I called her over to the door. The officer proceeded to engage her "Is this your daddy? Were you guys just hiking at the park"?
She answered him, while I'm thinking "WTF is this all about".
He motioned me to walk with him toward the street and while we were walking he started in with "Lemme tell ya what this is all about. I received a complaint that you were seen acting suspiciously and then grabbed a girl by the hands and you led her into the woods, stopping and looking behind you as you walked in to make sure no one was following you. A lady at the park wrote down you license plate number and called us to urgently arrive, as you were now leaving the scene. I took her statement, ran your plate number and garnered your address. Thats is why I am here".
At first this all was so unusually disarming, my initial impression was that this was ultimately a good thing. With all creeps we hear about on the news, its best to be socially conscious and report such things.
As the night went on, the incident began to bother me quite greatly. I'm thinking of the way my daughter was so happy and bouncing around, playing and, by all reasonable appearances, was happy both before, and after, hiking with her dad in the woods. And for whatever reason, a citizen managed to become so alarmed by what she saw that she went to the considerable trouble to surreptitiously jot down my plate number and subsequently report the "incident" to the police. Thus starting what was in essence, a child sexual assault investigation.
The question I wish to propose is "At what point does it become reasonable to do such a thing"? To be socially conscious and aware of crime against children, as has been spurred on and shoved down our throats via alarmist media reports, is a good thing. But what happened to me seemed to be a case of someone out there taking a good intention and twisting it into an irresponsible over action.
The only thing that was witnessed was a father and his daughter having a great day together in the beautiful outdoors. But it was perceived by a random citizen as something dark, horrible and quite alarming.
The debate/conversation I wish to engage is:
Was it the media that did this to her? That made her so paranoid of child predators? Was it society itself? Why did this happen? Was it reasonable?