metro mama

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Inadequate Response

I had a very upsetting experience yesterday afternoon. I took Cakes to our local park at about 4:30. It was full of parents and kids, but I noticed three children I didn’t recognize, who were obviously siblings. An hour later, a lot of the other people had cleared out, and the youngest girl, a three-year-old, tugged on my skirt and said, “senorita? mama?”

They was no parent in the park with these three children.

I approached the oldest, a boy of about eight. He spoke very little English (the two younger girls spoke none) and I wasn’t able to learn anything other than his mother had told them to wait at the park for her.

So another parent and I called the police. It was 5:30 by now. The kids were hungry and thirsty, so we gave them snacks. At 5:45 a cruiser went by—we tried to wave it down but it kept going (would that happen in Rosedale?)

Just before 6:00 a woman came to the park and the children ran towards her. There were several of us waiting by then. We approached her, but she didn’t speak English. One of the women had a little Spanish, so she tried to explain why you do not leave your children alone at the park. Honestly, I didn’t know how to react. The police still hadn’t arrived, so they walked away (though one of the dads did end up following at a distance).

It was heartbreaking.

I started to walk home and finally saw a cruiser, driving slowly, looking at the park. I waved them over and asked if they were responding to the 911 and they were. The most frightening part? They described the woman and asked me if the mother matched the description. She did. They left with sirens on.

Needless to say, I’m feeling a little haunted. I don’t know if the other parent successfully followed them and gave the address to the police. I wonder what I should have done differently. I pray I don’t hear about these kids on the news.


Blogger Lisa said...

That is very alarming and disturbing. Sounds like she's been doing this regularly.

You did the right thing.

2:31 PM  
Blogger Gabriella said...

Oh my! I hope everything is ok. You did the right thing absolutely, I feel for those children.

3:23 PM  
Blogger jen said...

so many kids in these situations. it's heartbreaking.

4:27 PM  
Blogger kittenpie said...

That's everyday life times a few hundred where I work. I'm not exaggerating in the least. I have had mothers leave english-free 4-year-olds and see no problem with it when I lost my shit. It's disturbing to day the least. I always say that neighbourhood is ripe for the picking if the wrong person figures that out.

4:44 PM  
Blogger Mouse said...

I think you did the right thing too, though I also know I'd be frustrated at not doing more.

5:01 PM  
Blogger cinnamon gurl said...

Oh that's heartbreaking! Those poor kids...

5:25 PM  
Anonymous sam said...

OMG. I got goosebumps!

You definitely did the right thing and you couldn't have known that they were looking for her. It's just a shame that the police hadn't shown up sooner.

6:25 PM  
Blogger ewe are here said...

Oh no. Those poor kids.

I really hope they found them.

7:07 PM  
Blogger motherbumper said...

I find it heartbreaking when I see kids ignored by their parents in parks and public play areas - but to be completely abandoned? What Kittenpie said is so true, all it will take is one predator to figure it out.

I'm pretty sure I would have reacted and done the same.

7:13 PM  
Blogger Beck said...

You did as very much as you could and more than many people would. You fed them, gave them drinks and made sure the police knew about their situation.
So sad.

7:27 PM  
Blogger Lisa b said...

Ug. I'll just second what everyone else has said. You did what you could. It is a sad situation. I am sure she has nowhere else to leave them and felt she had to.

9:56 PM  
Blogger Naomi said...

That's so sad. I hope they are all okay. Those poor children.

10:02 PM  
Blogger kgirl said...

ohmygod - that is a totally disturbing experience. you are a good citizen and a good mama, and you cared enough to do something when very few would. freakin police. firefighters would never have taken that long to respond.

10:17 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

So sad, but a fact of life for many. I think I probably would have done the same as you. It's all you can do, and then hope for the best for those kids.

7:53 AM  
Anonymous Sandra said...

This breaks my heart on so many levels. It does.

But you did the right thing. You couldn't have done anything differently.

I feel for those kids and I also feel for their mother. She made a horrible, scary, unacceptable error in judgement leaving them ALONE in that park. But I expect she possibly though she had no other options. It isn't right. But there is so much wrong with "our system" that doesn't support moms. Single moms. Moms fleeing abusive relationships. Moms living below the poverty line. Or maybe I am giving her too much of the benefit of the doubt. I don't know why I am analyzing it so much. It is just so sad that I struggle to make sense of it.

Hugs to you for looking out for those sweet children.

8:51 AM  
Blogger b*babbler said...

You did the right thing... So many others would have pretended not to see, chose not to get involved, walked away from the situation, not wanted to have put a bump in their day. However, the police cruiser that didn't stop when you tried to flag them down? Absolutely unaccpetable by the police. What good is it having a police car cruising the city if they don't stop for a citizen is in need? (Unless the sirens were on and they were already on a call...)

It's an incredibly sad situation. I do agree with Sandra above, while it was absolutely unacceptable, who knows what her situation is. Also, if she doesn't speak English, she may be new to the country and not realize that that isn't considered appropriate here. From what I understand in some countries children have to fend for themselves a lot sooner (not that I'm in any way suggesting that that should have to in any country, but it is a sad reality). Again, I guess I too am trying to rationalize that behaviour - I can only hope that her intent wasn't malicious or done with a lack of caring.

10:20 AM  
Blogger metro mama said...

sandra and babbler: yes, I was very conscious of not knowing the circumstances of the mother, and we did speak to her gently. But it scares me that it seems the police were already looking for her--the first thing that comes to mind is child abduction.

As for the police, I'm seriously thinking about a written complaint.

10:39 AM  
Blogger Mrs. Chicky said...

So scary. It's hard to know what's right to do in those situations and hindsight is always 20/20. You all did the best you could, but I do hope those kids are okay.

11:26 AM  
Blogger nomotherearth said...

I think that you did exactly the right thing. What an awful situation to be in - for everyone.

2:30 PM  
Blogger Ms. Porter said...

Ohh, very disturbing. I'm a bit confused that the police seemed to know who she was...I don't really understand what that can mean. You did all you could do, the right thing indeed...too bad that's all you could do.

2:33 PM  
Blogger Teena said...

So sad.

My mother used to put us on a ferry between Dartmouth and Halifax while she went for groceries (cheap babysitter?). I was only 8 or 9 at the time and had my younger brother and sister with me. What the heck was going through her head!!??

2:48 PM  
Blogger crazymumma said...

haunting indeed.

and incredibly disturbing that the police did not respond more quickly.

3:21 PM  
Blogger mamatulip said...

What gets me is the time it took for the police to get there -- especially if they thought she was a person of interest, for whatever reason. I'd write that complaint letter.

8:09 PM  
Blogger Mommy off the Record said...

How scary. Can you call the police to follow-up on what happened?

8:12 PM  
Blogger Lady M said...

You're a good mama and concerned citizen. I hope that family is ok.

3:02 AM  
Blogger something blue said...

This makes me heart jump out of my chest with worry and fear. You can't help but be disappointed in the response time. Plus as a concerned citizen it would be nice to know the outcome.

2:13 PM  
Blogger Cathy said...

That's awful. Sounds like you did all that you could do.

Police reports are public information. Maybe you or someone else could go pull this and any related ones. Might give you some peace of mind. Or, sadly, not.

2:31 PM  
Anonymous Redneck Mommy said...

You inserted yourself and got involved and tried to protect those children. Good on you.

I hope they are all right.

I'd try to adopt them, but I'm fairly certain I didn't pass the psych test....

2:45 PM  
Blogger moosh in indy. said...

Yikes! I'm glad you were one to stay, so many people just walk away...prayers are being said.

8:37 PM  
Blogger Jill Urbane, The Mentor Mom said...

You absolutely did the right thing. As a former CPS worker, I know that these things happen and have investigated many of these types of situations. As a parent, however, I will never understand how parents could be so thoughtless about their most precious commodity...their children.

You and the others absolutely did the right thing in contacting the police. I am disheartened to hear how long it took to get a response especially given the children's ages. Although I understand that they are busy responding to many calls, I would contact the sergeant of that precinct and express my concern regarding the delay in response just to make sure there wasn't some kind of breakdown in the dispatch system.

9:26 PM  
Blogger Ruth Dynamite said...

Yikes. You did the right thing.

9:15 AM  

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