Esther Rantzen & Tonight

  Chegs ®™ 09:42 04 Oct 2008

Lastnight on ITV.Esther conducted a social experiment placing a child actor in a busy shopping centre and they pretended to be lost and distressed.The result was astounding,1800+ people walked past these 2 children without a word and just 5 people made any attempt to make sure these children were okay.

Esther explained that political correctness now protects the adult.A couple of examples quoted were...

A father receives a call from the school asking him to attend and bring a pair of tweezers as their child had a splinter.He said surely it was a first aid matter and was told the school couldnt perform "non-invasive surgery" He went to the school and was able to remove the splinter without the aid of tweezers.

A child was badly sunburned because the school wasnt able to assist the child apply sunblock.

One of the men that Esther spoke to looked absolutely terrified(he had tried to assist the "lost child")until it was explained that it was an experiment.The guy still looked a little uneasy even then,explaining his reason for not approaching the child actor but standing a few feet away whilst he spoke to the child was incase he was accused of trying to abduct the child or assualt,etc.

If you were to see a child standing looking lost at a time when the child should obviously be at school,would you just hurry on by or make some attempt to help them?

  NewestRoyWidd1 10:08 04 Oct 2008

If the child was in a shopping mall I would contact security,whilst keeping watch over the child from a safe distance.
If in our city centre,I'd ring the police on their local non-emergency number.

  dagbladet 10:26 04 Oct 2008

"If in our city centre,I'd ring the police on their local non-emergency number."

Which is what?

  canarieslover 10:28 04 Oct 2008

Nowadays, for a man to approach a child that is a stranger, thought has to be given to the interpretation of that act by others. In the past I would have been one of the first to offer help to a child in distress but current attitudes, to men talking to children that they do not know, make me step back and let someone else do it. I feel guilty for not being a Samaritan but I have my own family to think of and would not risk compromising my reputation. It's a sad world.

  GRIDD 11:03 04 Oct 2008

If they asked me directly for help I'd answer with "stay here, don't move - I'll go get help" and then I'd go looking for security.

Would I approach the child? Absolutely not.

  GRIDD 11:09 04 Oct 2008

I just asked my wife.

She says she would not approach the child as it can make them worse ie. over react etc to an approaching stranger and that she would just inform security or a shop assistant.

  Pine Man 11:42 04 Oct 2008

Most, if not all, police forces have a non emergency number. If you don't know your forces number they have failed to advertise it very well.

In Sussex, where I live, it is 0845 60 70 999.

  tullie 12:00 04 Oct 2008

Easy,take the child into the nearest shop,to hell with the politically correct brigade.

  Pine Man 12:03 04 Oct 2008

You can see the headlines now - 'Shopper abducts child from a precinct while waiting for it's mother!

  Cymro. 12:11 04 Oct 2008

I came across a child aged about three in a large shop some time ago. The child was obviously lost and starting to get distressed.

There was another shopper nearby who happened to be a respectable enough looking woman. So I asked the woman if she could please take the child to customer services.

The woman was rather reluctant to do so probably for the same reason as I was. So in the end we decided that we would both escort the child to the customer services desk.

All in all it worked out very well and the child's mother soon turned up to claim her. But as has been said it is indeed a very sad world that in this case two adults were just too scared to help a lost child just because they were scared to be accused of some terrible crime.

  Forum Editor 12:14 04 Oct 2008

on the child, and offer comfort, even if that involved touching. The way to deal with scared children is to get down to their level - squat, and talk softly and soothingly. I would worry about the consequences later.

One of the difficulties nowadays is that children have almost certainly been given dire warnings about talking to strangers, and when they're already distressed at being lost they stress themselves all over again when a total stranger approaches. You have to play it by ear, because often in the midst of distress children will forget what they've been told, and will respond naturally to kindness and comfort.

Once, in a seaside carpark I saw a small girl, aged around four, crying her eyes out as she walked aimlessly amongst the cars. I asked her if she was lost, and she nodded. I asked her if she would like me to pick her up, so she could see across the cars to where her mummy and daddy might be, and she held her arms out. I picked her up, and she clung to me with all her might, and cried even more. Fortunately I saw her mother frantically running around in the distance, and all was well. She told me that she had warned her daughter endlessly about strangers, but it had obviously all gone out of the child's mind when a comforting man appeared on the scene.

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