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Would you step in to help a child?

10:32 UK time, Monday, 2 August 2010

Many people fear that their motives may be misconstrued if they help a child in need, a survey suggests. Would you help a child in distress?

A total of 44% of men and 28% of women told researchers for a UK survey that they would be wary of helping a child, in case witnesses thought they were trying to abduct the youngster.

The research also suggests 79% of adults believe community spirit has weakened since they were children.

Many also said they would hesitate to help a child in need of assistance in case the child was abusive to them.

Would you help a child in need? Or would you be fearful that your motives might be misjudged? Do you think that community spirit has weakened? Are you worried about talking to children because they may be abusive?

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.

Comments

Page 1 of 5

  • Comment number 1.

    You only need to read the 'Sarahs law' HYS to see why people are fearful!

    I found a 4 year old wandering the streets near my old flat with no shoes on, in mid winter with snow on the ground. I had to stand on the pavement waiting for 20 minutes for the police to show up because I was so terrified of the implications of taking a half dressed kid inside to warm up. The kid nearly froze as a result.

  • Comment number 2.

    No, I wouldn't help. And yes I am concerned they would be abusive.

    The problem nowadays, is that an adult is considered a threat to a child despite the adults good intentions.

    Personally, I'd walk away, and if the child was hurt or abducted, then sorry, but not my fault. Blame the parents, government, society as a whole.

  • Comment number 3.

    Would you help a child in need?

    I have done and would do again but I can understand why so many feel they way they do. I've seen it happen before, not suprisingly in shopping centres and on the street where people look but walk on.

    But I suppose having a child in a buggy myself at the time gave me a lot more confidence that my actions wouldn't be misread.

    Are you worried about talking to children because they may be abusive?

    That depends on the age of the child and how they are behaving, obviously.

  • Comment number 4.

    If anyone was in need of help, whether they be male or female, black or white, child or adult, I'd like to think that the majority would act first and think later.

    In response to the 79% of adults think community spirit has weakened since they were children, surely it is upon them to make sure community spirit is still strong? Or is it simply easy to blame the younger generation for all of society's ills.

  • Comment number 5.

    The problem here is not just stepping in to help chidlren but anyone is fraught with problems and risks.

    It is a case that the police should be brought in to do this. Until there is a clear statement that people will not be prosecuted for acting in defence of others or the child or sdelf defence this will be a difficult area.

  • Comment number 6.

    As a proud father of two children, I know that they mean the world to me, and if they were in trouble, I would give my last dying breath to help them. Similarly, if I saw another child in peril, I would indeed help because I would hope that the child's parent treasured their own just as much. If anyone misconstrued my actions then I would deal with that afterwards, just so long as the child was out of danger. It deeply saddens me that a child may be left in danger, or worse, just for the 'fear' alone of any adult being worried about the consequences to them as a result of this society turning true priorities on it's head.

  • Comment number 7.

    I have on many occasions stepped into help those of all ages.

    As a Police Officer both on and off duty.

    When doing so I have without exception found the only members of the public prepared to help are either other emergency service workers or retired Police Officers!

    Sorry but from 20 Years of service on the streets in Inner London that is the way it is!

  • Comment number 8.

    Yes I would step in to help a lost or distressed child. Whilst working in retail I had to do this on several occasions, especially with lost kids, it's sad but I always had that split second of "how does this look" hesitation before I went over. I have also on occasion helped out Kisd when not at work but this is an even more difficult situation as, when at work, you lose the "random member of the public" image making it easier to help.
    What is appaling is the attitude of some parents to having their lost child returned to them, of course gratitude & relief are the most common reactions but I have experienced everything from indifference (didn't even know their sobbing 4 year old was lost) to open hostility, these situations, while rare, do leave a bad taste in the mouth & may make some people think twice before bothering again.

  • Comment number 9.

    Absolutely. I was once at Tesco & I saw that a schoogirl was comletely enamoured of a book that I knew her mother would not buy for her nor afford, so I just slipped her a tenner & told her to go for it & walked away. I then suddenly realised that my kindness might have been misconstrued. It is owing to the politically correct climate today that one can fall foul of doing a good turn.

  • Comment number 10.

    Immediately and without hesitation. Any witnesses could think what they damn well liked; I really wouldn't care if someone misconstrued my motives if it prevented a child being injured, abducted or worse. This is just another excuse for 'not getting involved'. If the child was abusive I'd conclude they weren't really in any trouble and simply walk away, but I'd have thought this would become apparent before the incident had progressed significantly.

  • Comment number 11.

    Depends on the curcumstances, although I would be very wary.

  • Comment number 12.

    As a single man its not worth the risk. I was quite surprised such a high proportion of women wouldn't help though, the sexual predator label is generally not applied to women.

  • Comment number 13.

    A father was arrested recently in Sunderland for photographing his son. That's the kind of society we live in now.

    Of course drug pushers and burglars use children to do their work for them. Too young to prosecute so everyone's happy.

    About twenty years ago I was in a similar position to Peter Sym at the top. A young boy about two or three year old was wandering about early in the morning bawling his eyes out, obviously lost. Another bloke kept looking across and was very nervous, not knowing what to do. Fortunately I had my young daughter with me so I was able to go across and take the kid to the police station round the corner. As we got there a couple walking into town recognised the boy and took him back home. At least I think they did.

    We've all been criminalised because the legal system refuses to punish the real criminals. If child murderers and molesters were kept in jail for the rest of their lives there would be issue. Instead we are told we must respect their 'human rights' and their right to be anonymous and rehoused at massive expense for their own protection.

    Apparently Ian Huntly is complaining that his right to protection has been violated. No mention of his victims. But he'll get his rewards all right. There'll be plenty of lawyers to plead for him and pocket the money.

  • Comment number 14.

    I generally dont care about others stupid opinions because children need looking after and should be helped by any adult without them being looked at sideways.

    I will sit and chat with kids if they want and a neighbors young lad sometimes visits because he is bored. His mother didnt know me and so I got to know my neighbor through befriending her child.

    It is for parents to look after their children but they cannot be there all the time. They must accept that their child interacts with adults throughout their day every day and that is required for a normal upbringing.

  • Comment number 15.

    I would ask the nearest females to help me if the child simply looked lost but is the question "would you help a child if you thought that they were in danger from another person"? If so then I would need to take in the situation very carefully. Real violence, not a simple parental smack, would be enough. Abduction would be difficult to diagnose, who have never had a bawling child dragging their feet and refusing to leave somewhere?
    All in all I think you could probably detect a real threat but then again you could be wrong and end up on the receiving end of a charge or violence.
    So the answer to the question would be maybe.

  • Comment number 16.

    2. At 11:11am on 02 Aug 2010, martin622 wrote:
    No, I wouldn't help. And yes I am concerned they would be abusive.

    The problem nowadays, is that an adult is considered a threat to a child despite the adults good intentions.

    Personally, I'd walk away, and if the child was hurt or abducted, then sorry, but not my fault. Blame the parents, government, society as a whole.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I understand totally where you are coming from on this issue, but your comment does perfectly demonstrate what a sorry, sad little country we have become where a child is left to fend for themselves, when in obvious distress and danger.

    Personally, I would always step in and assist where needed. I am no pervert or child molester and I don't give a damn about the possibility of being labelled so.

    My instinct to protect and aid the vulnerable is far more important to me than to pander to a modernist form of witch hunt and to leave someone vulnerable to their fate. I simply couldn’t live with my conscience if I did walk away.

  • Comment number 17.

    Yes, I would help. I would find a woman or authority figure nearby who could help the child directly.

  • Comment number 18.

    No, I'd walk away, precisely because of the risk of my actions being misconstrued.

    Call me selfish if you like, but I have many ambitions in life and jail time is not one of them.

  • Comment number 19.

    Don't know; tough call. I'd guess it would depend on circumstances like how much they really need it, was I alone and so on. I would be concerned about the reactions of the police, passers by and in particular rabid parenrs who might seek to make an abduction out of my help in order to cover their own omissions. Certainly the fact that a lot of parents seem to think that anyone who even notices their child is a pervert will not help kids in need of help.

  • Comment number 20.

    The legal system doesn't protect the innocent, let alone protecting have-a-go heroes.

    Police have an arrest quota, and Any suspicion is good enough suspicion to investigate and interrogate.

    You may be trying to help. You know it, the police know it, but you'll face the cops that follow the letter of the law, rather than the spirit of the law.



    Also, what do you call an "abused/abusive" child?
    A child may become abusive because it is abused, and requires help,
    A child may also be abused if they are abusive. "Discipline" is now considered a form of abuse, and an "abusive child" may include the ones the threaten with knives.
    Some cases I might even support "abuse" (read: discipline) of an "abusive" (read: rebellious) teenager.

  • Comment number 21.

    Yes, I would step in to help a child.

    If people wanted to misconstrue my actions that's up to them, but I couldn't stand by and not help a child in need.

    "79% of people think that community spirit has weakened since they were children". Well, it will continue to weaken if these same people stand by and do nothing.

  • Comment number 22.

    When I was a child in the early 80s my neighbours would often chastise me for doing something wrong and my parents would thank them for it when they heard about the incident. Often I'd be punished just on the say-so of another adult because there was an element of trust involved.

    On the other hand those same people would look after me as though I was their own child whenever I skinned a knee or fell off my bike. My parents would never have dreamed of complaining that a neighbour had given me a plaster for a cut or a cold drink when it was very hot outside.

    Sometimes complete strangers would help me when I wandered off in the supermarket or down on the beach. An upset or wailing child used to be a sign that an adult's help was needed.

    These days it's impossible to go anywhere near a child you aren't related to because of the tabloid fuelled frenzy about child abuse. Even though paradoxically most abusers are related to the unfortunate victims it makes the general public wary of assisting any child in need.

    Case in point about six years ago, I was standing at a pedestrian crossing on a reasonably busy road when a mother and her 8 or 9 year old boy came up next to me. The mother stopped at the curb but the boy distracted by talking to his mother stepped out off the pavement into the path of an oncoming car. Without thinking I reached out and pulled the boy back onto the pavement by his shoulder making sure not to let go until I was sure the boy wouldn't fall to the ground. The whole incident was over in a couple of seconds but you guessed it - the mother unleashed a tirade of abuse at me for having the audacity to touch her son. The boy looked suitably embarassed (both by his foolishness and by his mother's outburst) and said thanks.

    I'd be wary of helping a child nowadays unless there were a lot of witnesses around, but I'll be honest I usually move very slowly and hope that a woman would beat me to it. Sometimes I ask a nearby woman if she's seen the kid's mum which usually gets them to deal with it. I'm not particularly proud of using the cowardly strategy I've adopted but even the suspicion of child abuse shows up on a CRB check so I'd most likely lose my job were such an accusation made by a paranoid parent.

  • Comment number 23.

    I have to admit, the thought that my motives would be misconstrued would (and has) cross my mind when it comes to helping a child. I feel men in particular have been demonised to the point where such a fear is inevitable.
    That said, I would not (and have not) allow those fears to stop me helping a child in distress. Should I fail to do so, I'm not at all sure I could live with myself.

  • Comment number 24.

    I have done, and yes, I did wonder if a policeman might turn up on my doorstep later (they didn't). A small chid had fallen off his bicycle and was in tears in the road. His older friends hadn't noticed and were some distance away. Picked up child, picked up bike, followed friends, handed over child.

    As I do try to do the right thing regardless of what other people may think, I imagine that many others might not offer help.

  • Comment number 25.

    7. At 11:23am on 02 Aug 2010, steve wrote:

    I have on many occasions stepped into help those of all ages.

    As a Police Officer both on and off duty.

    When doing so I have without exception found the only members of the public prepared to help are either other emergency service workers or retired Police Officers!

    Sorry but from 20 Years of service on the streets in Inner London that is the way it is!

    ------------------------------

    I recommend leaving london. Up north we seem a lot more friendly and helpful

  • Comment number 26.

    A few weeks ago I walked past when a child tripped over and gashed his knee open. I am a fully trained First Aider. A few years ago I would not have thought twice about intervening to assist someone in distress. Nowadays I would not even consider going near a suffering individual with a 50ft bargepole. They could die for all I care.
    That is exactly the attitude that the PC/do-good brigades have engendered.
    Moral standards have declined to such a level that I don't even bother holding doors open for anyone anymore, for fear that it is misconstrued as something discriminatory.
    I have been transformed from being a gentleman into an ignorant pig in 13 years of Labour tinkering.

  • Comment number 27.

    Hopefully I would go to the aid of anyone in trouble, but a child, in todays horrible world, I would involve another member of the public straight away. Peter Sym's comment is a classic example but good on you Peter, if no other member of the public was at hand, that's exactly what I would do. It's frightening to think an act of kindness and your moral duty could end up getting you in to trouble.

  • Comment number 28.

    NO! not in any circumstances

  • Comment number 29.

    Yes I would step in and have done so before. Bowling with my daughter and partner, I went out to the car and there was a man struggling with a little boy trying to get him in the car. The boy was screaming. I rushed over to ensure everything was OK and as it was the boy just refused to get in the car and his father was very embarrassed but also grateful that someone had shown concern that his boy may be in danger.

    My daughter is only 2 but should anything ever happen where she is in a potentially dangerous situation or requires help, I would be very grateful to anyone who assisted her and would hope people wouldn't hesitate. It's actions like these from adults that show our children how to behave.

    We were in the car when we witnessed an accident. My partner stopped the car and I ran into the ditch to make sure people were OK. Had there been a child in that car I wouldn't have thought twice about helping them, the same as myself and others never thought twice about helping the elderly couple in the car. I hope my daughter observes these things and grows up to react the same way.

  • Comment number 30.

    I would help a child. I'm not afraid. I don't care what people think.

  • Comment number 31.

    What is incredibly sad is that there is an assumption that the adults motives are bad motives. Not from society, it seems that there is a self perception that trouble will follow.

    In the mean time, a child that needs help goes needing. Surely this kind of willful negligence is at the very least reprehensible and possibly even unlawful, but not in the daily mail way, in a real way that English law does protect and will not see people stand idly by when intervention is the obvious course. Why do people assume that something bad will happen?

    The people who complaint the most about the country going to the dogs are the very same people who would turn a blind eye through fear of unwarranted and unsubstantiated claims of 'something' and blaming 'political correctness gone mad'!

    You are the very reason why this country has lost it's way.

  • Comment number 32.

    If you are male and see a child in need then stay clear, whatever you see. At the very most, tell a woman, but be very wary of this also.

    There is a group of women at work who on a daily basis either accuse someone of being a pervert or being a pedo. In their (well educated) view, all men are either sex pest's or pedo's. They call a really nice guy at work a pedo because he lives alone, little do they realise his wife died 5yrs ago. But he lives alone so of course he is a pedo.

    This also extends to women also, be very wary about helping them too. Not all, but the vast majority. Sad really, but in this increasingly feminised, beady-eyed, finger wagging culture of ours it simply isn't worth it really is it?



  • Comment number 33.

    Some of the 'I wouldn't step in' comments disgust me; you people are bereft of humanitarian compassion. As a father myself, I would instinctively step in. If some interfering curtain-twitcher reported me to the police, I would pursue them through the courts for defamation, if need be.

  • Comment number 34.

    It's not so much a case of the kid becoming abusive, but the parents! I just don't know what seems to have happened to reason these days. Some people are permanently angry.

  • Comment number 35.

    The fact that we even need to think about this is testimony to the moral bankruptcy of political correctness, and our obsession with ill-thought through, knee-jerk attitudes to safety ("children's safety is paramount"). So after the Soham murders and resultant head-in-the-cluds review, any adult in contact with a child is now a presumed paedophile and we have to have state intervention and CRB checks for every possible eventuality of contact with children and what has been lost is GOODWILL.
    Remember the case of a woman needing a CRB check to take her own child on a school-approved outing? That is how insane we have become.....
    A triumph of state-imposed rules and regulations over decency, common sense, and judgement.

  • Comment number 36.

    A hero is one who will give no thought to their own safety when faced with the opportunity to save another in need.

    A coward is one who is more concerned for their own safety than the wellbeing of another.

    Based on many comments here, it is sad to note that we are becoming a nation of cowards.

  • Comment number 37.

    "27. At 11:49am on 02 Aug 2010, Toothpick Harry wrote:
    Hopefully I would go to the aid of anyone in trouble, but a child, in todays horrible world, I would involve another member of the public straight away. Peter Sym's comment is a classic example but good on you Peter, if no other member of the public was at hand, that's exactly what I would do. It's frightening to think an act of kindness and your moral duty could end up getting you in to trouble"

    Thanks. Actually I'm still mildly ashamed of what I did. I'm an experienced first aider: I SHOULD have taken the kid into my flat, turned the fire on and got some blankets round him and not worried about the implications but instead I let him freeze in the snow for fear of being labelled a child abductor (the cops told me later he was in the street because his parents had left a 4 year old home alone and he'd let himself out)

    Mind you I feel slight guilt for not doing enough I can imagine how bad I'd have felt if he'd wandered off and died of cold in a back alley. That sort of guilt would eat you up and should be a warning for those who would just walk away.

  • Comment number 38.

    26. At 11:45am on 02 Aug 2010, Chris wrote:

    That is exactly the attitude that the PC/do-good brigades have engendered.
    Moral standards have declined to such a level that I don't even bother holding doors open for anyone anymore, for fear that it is misconstrued as something discriminatory.
    I have been transformed from being a gentleman into an ignorant pig in 13 years of Labour tinkering.

    ------------

    No Chris, if you don't hold the door open for people that's just you being inconsiderate.

  • Comment number 39.

    As a single man with no kids, it's far too dangerous for me to have anything to do with children. The level of paranoia now present makes it too much of a risk.

  • Comment number 40.

    I think I would do it automatically.

  • Comment number 41.

    17. At 11:38am on 02 Aug 2010, Jonathan_Kelk wrote:

    Yes, I would help. I would find a woman or authority figure nearby who could help the child directly.

    -----------------------------

    A woman or authority figure? How do you justify this?

    Somehow you label women as more trustworthey? Yet it is a proven fact that womens crimes are most likely emotionally related and so can be irrational, unprovoked and occur just because they are having a bad day and hormone imbalance.

    On the other hand the males are most likely calculated and planned. While younger people are more likely to commit an opportunistic crime.

    Authority figures are still male or female with the same chances of crime (recently a traffic police officer was caught in the US blackmailing women for sex). The fact is that the majority of people are well behaved and it is only a small percentage of the population who are likely to harm your child.

  • Comment number 42.

    Last week I was approached in a town centre by two girls wanting directions, my reaction was to find someway to pass the buck as quick as possible. Why? Obvious - the previous administration has labelled the entire adult population of these islands as predatory paedophiles of the most disgusting sort, to avoid having your good name destroyed you must avoid all possible contact with any children at all.
    What a situation. And from the other posts I am clearly not the only one that feels like it - there are others leaving kids outside freezing, walking away, avoiding even eye contact.... its a disgrace. Brown and his buddies should look at the destruction they have bought on society, Cameron and his pals have a huge job to do to repair this - the 'big society' or any other form of society has to be born of trust and freedom, and both are going to be very difficult to restore.

  • Comment number 43.

    Of course I would help a child in need and have done on many occasions. I'm sorry but there is no way I could live with my conscience otherwise.

    If you are wary it is easy enough to say 'are you OK, do you need any help'. Not difficult is it.

    Anybody who allows a child to suffer is guilty of child abuse.

  • Comment number 44.

    "36. At 12:09pm on 02 Aug 2010, Ninian Macdonald wrote:
    A hero is one who will give no thought to their own safety when faced with the opportunity to save another in need.

    A coward is one who is more concerned for their own safety than the wellbeing of another.

    Based on many comments here, it is sad to note that we are becoming a nation of cowards."

    Actually I've always thought the opposite... the times I've done something 'Brave' its because the fear of being labelled a coward or the disappointment I'd have received from my family (and my own guilt at being cowardly) has made me do the 'brave' thing. Being a coward is quite difficult if people are watching you. Only psycopaths don't have fear for their own safety.... the real hero is the one who IS scared but swallows down their fear and does the right thing despite being frightened.

  • Comment number 45.

    I have on many occasions stepped into help those of all ages.

    As a Police Officer both on and off duty.

    When doing so I have without exception found the only members of the public prepared to help are either other emergency service workers or retired Police Officers!

    Sorry but from 20 Years of service on the streets in Inner London that is the way it is!

    ------------------------------

    I recommend leaving london. Up north we seem a lot more friendly and helpful
    ----------
    Glad to hear it.
    Mind you my experience of Leeds and Skipton on a Friday night would tend to indicate this is somewhat a rose bespectacled vision.

    I didn't ask where those who didn't help originated from! Too busy dealing with the problems and protecting myself, members of the public and colleagues.

    Perhaps on arriving down South the millions of friendly and helpful Northerners who make this migration adopt our nasty Southern ways!

  • Comment number 46.

    Odly, if i think back to when i was a kid.

    I was about 10 years old, few kids a bit younger were picking on an even smaller kid, i barged in knocked the bullies over & helped up the little kid.

    I was in no danger of being arrested for "man handling" a few kids for being bullies, nobody would demonise me, or treat me like a child abuser.

    I recall asking the scruffy little kid where he lived & walked him home to his dad, who then thanked me & said he was glad somebody helped his son.

    The sad fact is if I tired to do that now, a 25 year old man I would probly be done for assault & be accused of all kinds of horrible things.

    Sad that we are regressing, not growing.

  • Comment number 47.

    So, what would most males think of if they found/saw a small child wandering the street, possibly as in the 1st comment made, or with less clothing on.

    Would you ask yourself what has happened to this child, why are they there, is it possible they have been sexually assulted or worse and cannot fully state who or what or where/when.

    If you report the child, would you be investigated and held in the police station for hours, or also arrested and even charged with "SUSPECTED" crime and held for a couple of days, possibly interfereing with your job, thus requiring explaination and also to your family. The family of the child would know who you are, would they believe you were an innocent party, would they tell their friends/neighbours/others about you.

    Thing is, can you even trust the child, or can you fully trust the system, WHO can you trust!!!

    OR, would you just ignore all this and take the chid in, out of the cold, and phone for and wait for the police to arrive.

    Isnt it a terrible world WITHOUT TRUST!!!!!

  • Comment number 48.


    Would you step in to help a child?

    Depends on the situation - if they seem a little distressed I'd certainly keep an eye on them to make sure an adult is aware of the situation.

    If they were genuinely in danger, then i hope i wouldn't hesitate.

  • Comment number 49.

    I have to agree with 11 12 and 39

  • Comment number 50.

    Depends. I don't see why just because its a child it makes any difference. It certainly doesn't to me. If someone was in danger (irrelevent of age or sex), whether it be abduction or any other violent crime then of course I would do all I could to help that person (old or young) - even if its just calling the police you can't just leave it.

    However if a child was crying in a shop or some other public place then I may consider walking away. Shop assistants/parents are responsible here. If it was out in the country in the middle of nowhere then I would call the police first and ask for their guidance.

  • Comment number 51.

    It would be a very selfish anti-social type of person who would walk away from anyone in obvious trouble, never mind a child. What a disgusting "society" this has become.

  • Comment number 52.

    41. At 12:23pm on 02 Aug 2010, in_the_uk wrote:

    17. At 11:38am on 02 Aug 2010, Jonathan_Kelk wrote:

    Yes, I would help. I would find a woman or authority figure nearby who could help the child directly.

    -----------------------------

    A woman or authority figure? How do you justify this?

    Somehow you label women as more trustworthey?

    -----------------------------

    No I don't, nor do I believe them to be more or less trustworthy. It is society that believes that. Trust me I know - I have been falsely accused of things in the past.

  • Comment number 53.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 54.

    10. At 11:29am on 02 Aug 2010, Donnerstag wrote:
    Immediately and without hesitation. Any witnesses could think what they damn well liked; I really wouldn't care if someone misconstrued my motives if it prevented a child being injured, abducted or worse. This is just another excuse for 'not getting involved'. If the child was abusive I'd conclude they weren't really in any trouble and simply walk away, but I'd have thought this would become apparent before the incident had progressed significantly

    Good for you, but unfortunately you're guity until proven innocent in all too many of these instances. Not what the law says, but in practice absolutely true. The outcome for your good samariton behaviour in this upside down society is a criminal record. I am very very careful, and would (and have) caution parents about disciplining their offspring in public (either verbal or phyisical) because those watching will make their business to send you down the path of criminal procedings. Too many people, though not prepared to assist, will ensure that your actions do not go unpunished.

  • Comment number 55.

    26. At 11:45am on 02 Aug 2010, Chris wrote:

    That is exactly the attitude that the PC/do-good brigades have engendered.
    Moral standards have declined to such a level that I don't even bother holding doors open for anyone anymore, for fear that it is misconstrued as something discriminatory.
    I have been transformed from being a gentleman into an ignorant pig in 13 years of Labour tinkering.

    .....................................................................

    A lot of people on HYS today seem to be blaming labour for their own selfishness and the breakdown of society. I'm sure it was Margaret Thatcher that said 'there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first'.

    Guess why this county has become so selfish.

  • Comment number 56.

    33. At 12:07pm on 02 Aug 2010, Neil Probert wrote:
    Some of the 'I wouldn't step in' comments disgust me; you people are bereft of humanitarian compassion. As a father myself, I would instinctively step in. If some interfering curtain-twitcher reported me to the police, I would pursue them through the courts for defamation, if need be.
    >>>>>>>>>
    Very noble and totally unworkable in that order. You must have a huge disposable income if you think you'd get anywhere with a defamation action.

  • Comment number 57.

    45. At 12:33pm on 02 Aug 2010, steve wrote:

    Glad to hear it.
    Mind you my experience of Leeds and Skipton on a Friday night would tend to indicate this is somewhat a rose bespectacled vision.

    I didn't ask where those who didn't help originated from! Too busy dealing with the problems and protecting myself, members of the public and colleagues.

    Perhaps on arriving down South the millions of friendly and helpful Northerners who make this migration adopt our nasty Southern ways!

    -------------------------

    It is sad that you feel like one of the few to help and you attribute it to being an ex officer. I also doubt that it is 'nasty southerners' but I do feel that the city centres cause this behaviour although I wont speculate as to why. Wherever I go I have found people to be friendly and helpful unless they are in a city centre.

    I only mentioned the north as that is where I live and so speak from experience

  • Comment number 58.

    Would you help a child in need?

    Not these days, no. I'd phone 999. Gone are the days when things were simple enough to look out for children. It's the price we pay for a fragmented society when none of us look out for each other.

    Any act of generosity seems to be suspect these days.

  • Comment number 59.

    If I'd been asked this question a couple of years ago, I would have responded generally in the negative: as others have pointed out, a man acting alone can often be misconstrued. If I'd had my own wife or son with me at the time, then perhaps I might have helped, as their presence would hopefully indicate that I was not some sort of weirdo.

    However, now I work in the security industry, and am fully licensed by the SIA. To obtain my license, I had to prove that I have no criminal record. I would like to think that my qualification would absolve me of any possible misinterpretation of my actions, even if it wasn't immediately apparent at the time.

    Three days ago I was on the bus returning from work. Waiting at the bus stop was a man with four small children and their bikes. Two of the children were crying, and one had a bleeding leg. The man explained to the bus driver that the children had been involved in an accident, and asked the bus driver for assistance in taking his children to the nearby town centre where they could get medical attention. The bus driver refused to allow bikes on the bus, citing "regulations". The man begged and pleaded, and every single person on the bus joined in, pressurising the driver to take the children and their bikes (it was only a matter of about 5 or 6 stops). Nevertheless, the bus driver still refused, and drove off, leaving the distressed children and by now irate father behind...

  • Comment number 60.

    In summer 2002 I was walking my dog in a field next to a road, a bus stopped at the nearby bus stop and I heard the driver ranting at a female child, who was crying but got on the bus. The bus drove off, I quickly took the dog home got in my car and drove into town to the final bus stop. I saw the bus, stopped my car and got on and asked the driver what the hell was going on.

    Well the driver then got shirty with me saying he was the childs father!. On the bus the little girl was with her mother who also got upset. I said my piece to both of them and said I would complain to the bus company [but never did].

    I felt like a fool for getting involved.

    About 2 months later 2 girls were murdered in Soham by Ian Huntley, this made me think that even though I felt like a fool at the time I was right to at least check the situation out and make sure the child was ok.

    But all incidents are different, that seemed ok as there were other people and I was just asking questions, I have no idea how I would react in different circumstanses.

  • Comment number 61.

    Having been brought up in the 60's and 70's I think I can say that I have seen the changes in our society's attitude to children and the relationship between children and adults. Infants were normally left outside shops or front doors in their prams. Strangers would have been encouraged to put their faces into the pram and "goo goo" at them. There would have been no thought of any threat. Nowadays parents would not even think of leaving babies outside on their own and the thought of a stranger being less than two feet from the pram would make some apoplectic.
    If a child was lost you took them to the "lost children area" in most big shops, resorts or high streets. If you saw one you took them by the hand and led them there. I cannot think of the last time I saw a "lost children area".
    If a child transgressed then you took them by the ear to their front door. When the door was answered the child would, in most cases, be given a quick "clip around the ear" and dragged in doors. The parents would thank you for bringing them in and appologise for their behavior. Nowadays you would be brought to court for abduction, assault, probably be assualted by the parents and put on the sex offenders list.
    I don't think there has been any increase in the cases of strangers abducting children since then. So the answer must be that the "doo-gooders" have completely ruined the relationship between children and adults.

  • Comment number 62.

    26. At 11:45am on 02 Aug 2010, Chris wrote:
    "Moral standards have declined to such a level that I don't even bother holding doors open for anyone anymore, for fear that it is misconstrued as something discriminatory.
    I have been transformed from being a gentleman into an ignorant pig in 13 years of Labour tinkering."

    That's actually quite laughable, so let's re-write that shall we.

    "MY Moral Standards have declined to such a level...."

    You're basically blaming the government for letting your own standards slip.

    How your actions are percieved is for the other person to decide.
    How YOU decide to act is no ones responsibilty but your own, and any thing lacking is not to be blamed on others.

    And don't get me started on being a fully trained first aider who would let some one die!

  • Comment number 63.

    I couldn't care less what people thought of me - if I saw someone in need of help, child, adult, white, black, male, female, straight, gay, catholic, muslim, athiest - I would help.

    I was in London last year visiting a friend. Her daughter is 12 and of mixed race. I went up to the shop with her and waited outside. When she came out she told me the man in the shop was quizzing her about who I was and if she knew me. I went in the shop and thanked the guy for keeping an eye out for the youngsters. He admitted he was concerned because he had not seen me around before.

    It was genuine concern and I appreciated that and could see where he was coming from so this was fair enough. I wonder if others would have resented the shopkeepers questions?

  • Comment number 64.

    what a good question, at the right time. this weekend while walking to town i came across 2 children, both todlers, 1 crawling the other sliding along on the bum. the one crawling went into the road, I moved with speed and lifted the child and gently putting it back down on the pavement in front of an open door, there were cars on the road at that moment. I then gathered the other child up and did the same, rang the door bell and was confronted by a very irrate mother 'what the hell are you doing with my children, people like you should be locked up'. I tried to explain the one child was on the road but the mother was off on one shouting 'pervert - child abuser'. Next time, I think I will just watch or call someone else, I only tried to help and am sorry I did.

  • Comment number 65.

    Not if I was on my own. When I was a child I fell off my bike a man walking his dog picked me up made sure I was not hurt and took me home to my parents who thanked him. If that happened these days the man would end up in police cell for touching a child. we live in terrible times when a kind gesture is always seen as having another motive .

  • Comment number 66.

    In my work, I dont stop to talk to children in case anyone thinks I have ulterior motives and in some circumstances, I could see myself not getting involved, but I guess if a child was being hit by an adult or other serious happenings, I probably would.

    But I have taught myself NOT to get involved where children are involved as parents and the law seem to assume your motives are questionable.

    Dont blame me for the way society has turned as no doubt it will be to the detriment of the child and could even cost some lives.

  • Comment number 67.

    #55 "A lot of people on HYS today seem to be blaming labour for their own selfishness and the breakdown of society. I'm sure it was Margaret Thatcher that said 'there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first'.

    Guess why this county has become so selfish."

    If I could recommend a comment I'd recommend that one.

    When the tories were in power we had the Bulger killings, Hungerford and Dunblane. Frankly those were as bad as an example of 'Broken Britain' as anything that happened under Labour. From some of the comments here you'd think the 1980's and early 90's were the golden age of Britain where people were unselfish, helped each other, there was no crime and no civil unrest.... in actual fact the exact opposite was true.

  • Comment number 68.

    53. At 12:44pm on 02 Aug 2010, LabourBrokeBritain wrote:
    If my child was abducted and some low life had stood by and watched, I would be as angry at them as I would the abductor.

    You would pay for it. I promise you would pay. And that IS a threat.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    And a threat needs to turn into a promise, and that would show an element of premeditation and then you would be doing a 10 stretch whilst your family were without a protector and father.

    You Plonker.

  • Comment number 69.

    58. At 12:54pm on 02 Aug 2010, doctor bob wrote:
    Would you help a child in need?

    Not these days, no. I'd phone 999. Gone are the days when things were simple enough to look out for children. It's the price we pay for a fragmented society when none of us look out for each other.




    or do what I did. Both. Call 999 and stay with the kid until the police arrive. Frankly I can't think of a better choice of action for all concerned. As a rule child molesters don't call the police and it certainly takes the wind out of the sails of any irrate parent when you tell them the police are on the way.

  • Comment number 70.

    52. At 12:42pm on 02 Aug 2010, Jonathan_Kelk wrote:

    No I don't, nor do I believe them to be more or less trustworthy. It is society that believes that. Trust me I know - I have been falsely accused of things in the past.

    --------------------------

    I agree it is a common misconception and I am glad you dont believe it. I do wonder how common this misconception still is

  • Comment number 71.

    Damn right I'd help a child in trouble!

    I refuse to buy into this new idea that to do so may be misconstrued by others and therefore one must deny one's humanity for one's own protection.

  • Comment number 72.

    65. At 1:04pm on 02 Aug 2010, frankiecrisp wrote:
    Not if I was on my own. When I was a child I fell off my bike a man walking his dog picked me up made sure I was not hurt and took me home to my parents who thanked him. If that happened these days the man would end up in police cell for touching a child.



    No he wouldn't.

    The police have got far better things to do that make up crimes. That situation would only happen if the kid or the kids parents said the man had molested the kid. Its this sort of hysteria that deters people from helping others.

    I'd strongly recommend you do a full St Johns ambulance first aid course. One of the first things they teach you is how to give aid in a way that doesn't leave you open to false allegation or misunderstanding.

  • Comment number 73.

    Yes, Yes, Yes and Yes to each of the four questions. I also doubt anyone here who said no to the first question. If they actually found themselves in a situation where they could stop that child running into the road or falling into a river do they really expect us to believe they would do nothing?

  • Comment number 74.

    @Steve "When doing so I have without exception found the only members of the public prepared to help are either other emergency service workers or retired Police Officers!"

    I wonder if that's as much a confidence thing. I do voluntary first aid, so perhaps am closer to but not an "emergency service worker" and do get into situations where in the past I've had to test that confidence factor. It takes some getting over. Obviously this is more the hurt child situation than the lost child, but maybe even dealing with a lost child may take something.

    There are also factors of "I'm late. I'm in a rush" or "Someone else will do it" or if you're already on the scene "someone else is doing it" or perhaps not even recognising that there is a problem.

    If you are a police officer or emergency service worker you'll be used to knowing what to do and doing it which must help a great deal! I may deal with emergencies maybe once every few weeks if that. The majority of people would deal with it rarely if at all. You lot get to practice every day.

    Now I have children I can be more confident because I gain experience of dealing with them which must also help.

    There is the awareness now of the assumption of guilt when dealing with kids other than your own. It is a great shame. Having a child of your own helps because you join the parent club. If you're childless then people are suspicious if you get even remotely close to kids. It is also an advantage that a police officer or emergency service worker or even to some extent a volunteer first aider has, because your title confers that trust. You are expected to be clean. We are all CRB checked for example.

    In answer to the question - I'd help a child but I would be wary and I would take care. Most of all I'd try to ensure that what I was doing was clear to any observers and any observers could act as witnesses that I had done no harm. We have to be aware of this kind of thing and even when out on duty act in a way that is conscious of this.

  • Comment number 75.

    In this country, most definitely not, it would be suicidal. Even if they look at you pleadingly, look away and ignore the child is even there. Hopefully CCTV will pick you up on that so when it comes to the parents calling you a paedo, you can easily show them that you ignored them. Self preservation is key.

  • Comment number 76.

    It depends on the circumstnces, a lost child will obviously be in distress and so too will be the parent, kids wander off unnoticed for whatever reason. In a crowded place if you hold the child up on your shoulders so they could look for their parent or their parent could see them, what is so wrong with that? Inviting kids around to your house because they want to talk is a definite NO.

  • Comment number 77.

    I enjoy seeing young children enjoying the simple things in life and sometimes stand at a distance watching , as it reminds me of my young days during the war and just after. Unfortunately these days you have to be careful as my wife said, you will more than likely be thought of as a pedophile. How sad that the elderly canna enjoy just the pleasurable things in life, the innocence of young children. What a world!

  • Comment number 78.

    Would you help a child in need?
    I hope so.
    Or would you be fearful that your motives might be misjudged?
    Yes
    Do you think that community spirit has weakened?
    I'm afraid so.
    Are you worried about talking to children because they may be abusive?
    Depends on the age, but yes in some cases.


  • Comment number 79.

    55. At 12:48pm on 02 Aug 2010, suzie127 wrote:

    A lot of people on HYS today seem to be blaming labour for their own selfishness and the breakdown of society. I'm sure it was Margaret Thatcher that said 'there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first'.

    Guess why this county has become so selfish.

    ---------------------------------

    I love reading this comment. Instead of posting the whole comment this tiny extract can be assigned any context to twist the meaning as it is here.

    Surely for 1 person (thatcher) to remove the morals of an entire country, the country must be made of weak minded fools. At the very least the people who blame thatcher must be incapable of thinking.

    If you are willing to reject your morals because a woman you dont like (thatcher) tells you to, it shows that you are not a moral person.

  • Comment number 80.

    You only need to read the facts and figures of the number of school teachers and helpers who are accused of fictional complaints by children that actually make the courts,is it less than 3%? Brought about by a society that has given the same credence to the word of children as that of adults, to realize that the cult of children rule has got seriously out of hand. Too long now we have taken children, who are ''having a bad day'' lies and imaginary attacks as cause for suspension and court action. Bring back the common sense rules that ''Adults know best'' and you might even see people lining up to become teachers when discipline returns to all the schools, instead of the incredible shortage that we now have.

  • Comment number 81.

    4. At 11:21am on 02 Aug 2010, LoonyLiberal wrote:
    "In response to the 79% of adults think community spirit has weakened since they were children, surely it is upon them to make sure community spirit is still strong? Or is it simply easy to blame the younger generation for all of society's ills."

    Absolutely 100% spot on LooneyLiberal - it is almost entirely up to society (you and me) as to how much 'community spirit' we have nowadays. There's one small (but widespread) example of this at the block of flats I live in. I know most of my neighbours and I know their names (first names at least). We say hello in passing and help eachother with things like rubbish and recycling...but there are some in our block who will simply ignore you and walk past expressionless, and they range from the young to old. As the comment above states, this has nothing to do with govt interference, and everything to do with the individual.

  • Comment number 82.

    I child fell 20 yards or so in front of My car. My Wife went to help the Child who screamed even louder and fended my Wife off. So we left. We will not be so quick to offer help next time. This is a legacy of Balls teaching the Children in schools distrust adults. Ukips Great Britain will be a kinder place.

  • Comment number 83.

    I have done on a couple of occasions, when out with my boyfriend. Both times we agreed that I would be the one going up to them and asking if they were ok, because it would look 'better' than him going up to the child. I'm a female in my 20s, do volunteer work with children and have been CRB checked, but even so, I still made sure I kept my distance when talking to them. Sad isn't it!

    However, one time we were at the beach and my boyfriend thought he saw a child in trouble and didn't think twice in taking off his bag and shoes about to rush in and help them - but then we noticed the child had got up ok. So in my boyfriend's case, it was dependent on the severity of the help required as to whether he was hesitant about helping or not.

  • Comment number 84.

    If I saw a child in distress then yes, I would stop to help but there would be the instant 'how are my actions being interpreted by others' feeling. There is also the problem of how the child may react because of how our society is nowadays but those thoughts would be secondary if I perceived the child was in distress or danger.

    One problem is the belief that paedophiles lurk on every street and the reason for this is because our paedophiles and sexual predators are allowed to live within our communities rather than being kept permantely behind bars. This problem plays on the psyche of society and is doing far more damage than good.

    The other huge problem has been the Labour-induced Nanny State and political correctness, neither of which I subscribe to as I feel it is mostly more important to say things as they stand rather than have this non-commital dreadful nonsense. Political correctness was a tool used by Labour when immigration was dictated to us and used as a way of silencing our views so that they could get their policies through. But the result has been that our society is so very broken that to actually help someone, even the most vulnerable, can actually see your life made a misery instead of it being seen as helping. Even Health & Safety over the past 13 years has even assisted in social errosion in similar ways. How many news reports have their been where people see someone in danger and rather than help, their first thoughts are 'ealth & safety that have then resulted in the death of the person(s) in trouble.

    That said, to help someone in distress or danger has to be a personal choice, not become an expectation that we should all do it but those that do help should not instantly be labelled a paedophile or face charges of 'assault' etc.

  • Comment number 85.

    Sadly I would want to help but would probably avoid doing do becuase

    a. I am a white man
    b. middle aged

    Automatically any woman would treat me as a pedoephile or rapist with suspicion. Unfortunately they believe the nonsense in the press, they dont realise that the actual person in mortal danger statistically is me.

    Sarahs law doesnt work because what do you do if you know there is a pedophile living nearby ? move, attack them first ? what do you do with that information ?

  • Comment number 86.

    As a middle aged male? you must be joking.

  • Comment number 87.

    I honestly don't know. "Self preservation" certainly would tell me to do nothing unless I was with someone who could testify to my motives and actions. On the other hand, I'm far from convinced that I could say watch a child bleed to death to protect myself from accusations.

    I guess I'd just have to see what I did at (and I hope I never encounter it) the time.

  • Comment number 88.

    I've got a couple of questions for all HYSers -

    Are you afraid to help a lone child because you know that you'll get into trouble OR because sensationalist media reporting leads you to believe that you will get into trouble?

    Can anyone name just ONE example of a perfectly innocent person who has helped a child in need and found themselves on charges of abduction or assualt?

    This HYS perfectly illustrates how inaccurate and sensationalist media reporting is dangerous to society...it actually stops otherwise decent people from helping out a child in need. Look, i'm not for general media censorship, but I am for the media being properly regulated so they can't spread inaccurate scare stories.

  • Comment number 89.

    I would help only under a certain set of circumstances.
    The most important is that my wife be with me.
    If someone makes an accusation of anything untoward, it can ruin your life. Even if its not proven, it still stigmatises.
    If the missus were there she'd know I'd done nothing wrong.

    Our society is totally messed up when we are so worried about our motives being misunderstood, they we leave a child in distress. I wonder if the tabloid editors are happy?

  • Comment number 90.

    Looks like children are on there own since most people don't want to deal with getting arrested under bad ill thought out laws. But it really does not matter since children will grow up to be like vermin any way causing trouble. Bet we go back to survival fittest since state killed god.
    We think of children when grow up to be teen as vermin any way.

  • Comment number 91.

    My door is always open and the local children know this.

    There's normally at least one of them coming in and asking for help to mend a puncture or damaged chain on their bikes, clean the bearings of their skateboards and other such minor tasks.

    They're always more than happy to help me carry anything heavy I'm bringing from the car or moving around the garden or allotment too.

    Our local community is just as friendly as when I was growing up many decades ago and community spirit still feels as strong as ever; since my wife passed away not a week goes by without one of the neighbours asking if I need some help around the house or with shopping and other errands.

    Reading many of the other comments on here I can see just how lucky I am and I wonder how much effort is made by those complaining about a lack of community spirit in their area or if they're just complaining about the fact that they're too lazy and self absorbed to bother helping anyone else and because of this, no-one helps them.

  • Comment number 92.

    This is a tricky one, because one could so easily quite innocently and inadvertently get into trouble. Much would depend on the circumstances of the child's difficulties or distress, his or her age etc. Also, if I was on my own, I would be inclined to be very careful before doing anything other than phoning the police or local authorities. If one knew the child and/or the carers, my response naturally would be easier.Unfortunately, doing good deeds nowadays can have unforeseen consequences and innocent acts can all too easily be misconstrued by others. It is a little sad to have to say this but the State has now intruded into so many and varied aspects of our lives today that individuals can sometimes be deterred from acting on their own initiative in situations such as these.

  • Comment number 93.

    72. At 1:16pm on 02 Aug 2010, Peter_Sym wrote:
    65. At 1:04pm on 02 Aug 2010, frankiecrisp wrote:
    Not if I was on my own. When I was a child I fell off my bike a man walking his dog picked me up made sure I was not hurt and took me home to my parents who thanked him. If that happened these days the man would end up in police cell for touching a child.



    No he wouldn't.

    The police have got far better things to do that make up crimes. That situation would only happen if the kid or the kids parents said the man had molested the kid. Its this sort of hysteria that deters people from helping others.

    I'd strongly recommend you do a full St Johns ambulance first aid course. One of the first things they teach you is how to give aid in a way that doesn't leave you open to false allegation or misunderstanding.

    ..........................................................

    I spend a lot of time in France and this question would never come up you would not hesitate to help a child but this country its different.

  • Comment number 94.

    http://www.shropshirestar.com/latest/2008/09/08/town-park-staff-to-quiz-adults/

    says it all really as to why people are reluctant to approach children in distress.

  • Comment number 95.

    Help a child? Are you joking? We can't even take a photograph with a child in the background without half a dozen halfwitted social workers stepping in.

    Wouldn't it be nice to live in a free country instead of this vindictive society?

  • Comment number 96.

    Wow. I'm staggered.

    The question is "Would you help a child in need?" and there are a whole bunch of people saying no.

    Wastes of skin the lot of you.

    No matter what you perception of society's perception is, no matter what reprisals you fear, this is a child. In need. And you will stand by in case your good name is sullied.

    Rather I end up in jail on a wrongful charge than a single innocent child suffer.

    You may tell yourselves you are reacting to a degraded society - you lie to yourselves. You are causing it.

    Complete wastes of skin. I resent sharing my air with you.

  • Comment number 97.

    Yes I would and I have.

    If a problem arised later, I'd worry about it then.

    The attitude of people like #2 is, I hope, in the minority and is part of the problem of us not taking responsibility for OUR society.

    If the child was hurt or abducted later and you did nothing, it WOULD be your fault.

  • Comment number 98.

    The sad thing is the fact that we need to ask the question.
    Our society has become one where we are afraid to help each other because someone may misconstrue our motives.
    Anyone who would willingly harm a child for their own gratification deserves punishment.
    Anyone who fails to help a child in distress should be ashamed of themselves.

  • Comment number 99.

    Yes I would, without a doubt. I could not call myself a christian if I left a child that needed help alone out of fear that I 'might' get arrested.

  • Comment number 100.

    "18. At 11:38am on 02 Aug 2010, Reasoned Rants wrote:
    No, I'd walk away, precisely because of the risk of my actions being misconstrued.
    Call me selfish if you like, but I have many ambitions in life and jail time is not one of them."
    ==================================================================
    100% agree with this because:

    "32. At 11:59am on 02 Aug 2010, Feel_Bad_Factor wrote:
    There is a group of women at work who on a daily basis either accuse someone of being a pervert or being a pedo. In their (well educated) view, all men are either sex pest's or pedo's. They call a really nice guy at work a pedo because he lives alone, little do they realise his wife died 5yrs ago. But he lives alone so of course he is a pedo"
    ===================================================================

    Modern society is mistrustful and i remember a similar issue years ago with helping elderly people with shopping or who may have fallen over in the street etc. Time was i'd rush to lend a hand but unfortunately being a young single black man i'm hardly the picture of a knight in shining armour in the public's view - i only have to see the look on the face of the person i have just run up to, whose wallet/purse i have found to know that it wasn't worth the effort in picking it up

    The press has us scared that paedos and psychopaths are everywhere and that everyone is litigious, not only that but 'have a go heroes' sometimes end up on the wrong end of a sharp implement - self preservation dictates i mind my own business

 

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