What can I do if I see a child who may be in an unsafe situation?
Intervene powerfully, respectfully, and immediately to stop unsafe or disrespectful behavior.
Recently I was at one of Austin’s many indoor playgrounds with my children. As I watched them play with their friends I noticed another group of children playing very rough. There was one young girl, about 5 years old, and 4 boys each progressively older. The boys were piled on top of her. She looked unhappy and was yelling for them to stop. I quickly walked over to them and yelled, “Hey, she is telling you to stop, you need to listen to her!” They stopped and stared at me.
“This is our sister. We’re just playing.” The girl nodded.
“Who are you hear with?”
“Our mom.” the oldest said, pointing to her.
I approached the mom, “Did you see what was happening there?” She nodded and gave me a wry smile. “And you were OK with that?” Another nod. “OK, I just wanted to make sure she was safe.” I felt a bit embarrassed and I imagine she may have been a bit offended. But I thought about what if the girl hadn’t been OK and I had done nothing? When the girl ran by me I said, You were having fun?” She nodded. “Good! I just wanted to make sure you were safe.” She gave me a big smile. I hope I showed her that most strangers are good and that she can ask for help if she needs it.
At least, I like to think so.
For other ideas on how you can protect children go to http://www.childprotectionmonth.org/10-actions-for-adult-leaders/