Beaten For Helping


Stop me if you’ve heard this one before : misunderstanding leads to a guy being falsely accused of something, his picture gets spread all over social media, and his life is ruined.

Chances are you’ve heard it several times. There was the guy in British Columbia that forgot his glasses and was holding his phone at arm’s length to try and read something. Several girls thought he was taking their picture, snapped his, and shared it all over the internet with warnings about the town pervert.

There was the guy in Melbourne that stopped to take a selfie with a Darth Vader cutout in Target and was accused of the same, a Frozen display and several young girls somewhere in the vicinity. Both men spending months subjected to harassment and death threats while trying to clear their names and reputations.

Add to that list a Lakeland, Florida man who’s name, picture, phone number, place of employment, and family have been going viral this week, warnings made to watch out for him and to keep him away from children all over the internet.

His crime was to pick up a two year old girl, lost and upset in the crowd of a busy sports complex, calm her down, and begin asking people in the vicinity if anybody knew who her parent’s were. Before finding them however, the girl’s father and two of his buddies found them. Besides having his name and reputation smeared to the point where he moved his family into hiding, the Good Samaritan, a father himself,  got a tooth knocked out, his face split open, and a half dozen punches to the head for his trouble.

The girl’s family and friends, originators of not only the physical assault but the online one, are not only ungrateful but unrepentant, still convinced there was foul play intended despite the overwhelming number of witnesses that dispute that claim. As much as I can relate to their original panic and join everybody else that is happy the girl was returned to them unharmed, I have issue with their claim that this end result is “all that really matters.”

Its not all that matters. The man’s face and reputation matter. The continual sharing of things seen on-line with no effort put into determining the truth matters. The fact that this would have never happened if it had been a woman helping the little girl matters. The insane idea that any man talking to a little girl he doesn’t know must have nefarious purposes matters. The fear that next time it might be my little girl that goes un-helped because male bystanders are afraid to get involved matters to me quite a bit.

We already feel it. A little girl asks for a push on the swing or a lift up a ladder at the park and we freeze, looking around frantically for the kid’s parents. My daughter is old enough to not really care all that much where I am at the park, but every so often I make sure to talk to her, not to reassure her, but to make sure others are aware that I have a child present.

I’ve said before that parenting is a terrifying experience, the world a very scary place. Vigilance is necessary.

Paranoia is not.  I will do everything in  my power to make sure that I am there every time that my little girl needs me, but I know that for all my good intentions this may not always be the case. If she is ever lost, scared or hurt, please guys. Help her.



36 thoughts on “Beaten For Helping”

    1. The police seemed to have been very quick in putting out statements trying to correct the false information. Its amazing how quickly something like this can escalate over social media

  1. I hate social media when things like this happens. On the way home I sometimes see kids walking along the road alone. As much as I would like to give them a lift to wherever they need to be, I just can’t for the fear someone will accuse me of kidnap! It’s frightening isn’t it?

  2. Whoa. This is a tough topic and I think you handled it extremely well. Like you said, you have to be vigilant, but not paranoid. There has to be a balance. But, also like you said, the world is such a scary place now…I can help but to helicopter my children most of the time there is a big crowd. Thanks for causing me to contemplate this topic deeper. Great read.

    1. the larger the crowd, the higher the anxiety – there is no doubt about that. When we go to a local minor league baseball park my daughter definitely gets a different degree of autonomy than when we go to a large amusement park and such. No matter where we are, I’ve always got one eye trained in that direction

  3. Good grief! This idea that people have that stranger attacks on children are common and the main threat to fear is ridiculous. It is statistically nonsense. Statistically, it would make far more sense to punch every man walking around with a child who is related to him in case he is abusing the child, than to punch a man who is looking after a child he doesn’t know (not that anyone should punch any man for being in the presence of a child). Incest abusers are many, many times more common than paedophiles who attack unknown children. Furthermore, children are far more likely to come to harm through an accident than through deliberate harm caused by anyone. Therefore, my view is that, in most cases, young children are more likely to get hurt if they are lost and alone because they can’t care for themselves, and are in danger from accidents, traffic, or simply exposure or dehydration if they are lost for too long. I don’t think it then makes sense to encourage them to fear strangers and asking for help that they need.

    1. I think the number is 115 children are abducted by strangers in the US each year. A still horrific number and a nightmare I can’t even imagine, but statistically, not something that most of us should be as paranoid about as we often act

  4. I can honestly say this isn’t something I’ve ever thought of. I have seen men in parks with kids and thought nothing of it but at the same time I’ve never put much thought into what would happen to that man if he tried to help someone else’s child. I’ll admit that prior to reading your post I would probably make the same assumption – in the beginning – but I also wouldn’t have beat the guy up before getting answers first about what he was doing. People are so into the whole “shoot first, ask questions later” only they don’t bother with the questions at all. Their truth is the only one that matters to them. Their perspective is the only one that matters to them. I am really sorry to hear about this man. But you raise an interesting point that if it had been a woman, no one would have questioned her. Its a double standard that is a very dangerous one because not only are men quite capable of looking after another child that isn’t their own but women are just as capable of kidnapping as men. Thankfully, I have not seen this floating around on social media because after reading this man’s story I would have been pretty upset that the family can’t accept or admit their own wrong doing. People are also obsessed with always being right these days. Or at least that’s what it seems to be from what I’ve observed. No one wants to take responsibility for their own actions anymore or own up to their own mistakes. That is something I adamantly instill in my boys because I believe it’s important to acknowledge our own flaws and mistakes in order to improve ourselves and evolve as human beings. This is such a sad story and my heart goes out to that man and his family.

    1. I haven’t seen anything about how long the child was missing for. I know the father was preparing to play softball and I’ve been pretty vocal here about not judging others, about how quickly these things can happen, but I wonder if there is such an overreaction on the family’s part as a way to deflect any blame they might be afraid would come their way for losing him in the first place. An online slander as a way to keep themselves from being slandered.

  5. Oh gosh, you are so right. I sincerely hope that someone kind looks after Cygnet and calms him down if every we lose each other. I don’t want people to be scared of helping others.

  6. so sad this is society these days. I felt guilty making small talk with a little girl last night, asking what grade she was in. I thought, omg…her mom is going to think Im a weirdo. Just paranoia!

  7. Reading this story I suddenly remembered getting lost at a carnival or something when I was little. Maybe three years old? Way too small to be any use finding my way back to my parents once I realized I was alone in a forest of legs and the fear set in. So I started crying, and a gentleman found me and asked me where my parents were, if I knew their names (Mom and Dad) or what they were wearing, or what they looked like (tall) or anything that could help us find them. Then he put me up on his shoulders to look for them while he made his way to where he’d last seen local police watching over the crowd. He explained, still carrying me (I wasn’t willing to climb down at that point, I was finally feeling safe and helpful) and we stood there while they radioed around in search of frantic parents.

    Obviously, I was reunited with them and everything turned out fine, but years later I retold the story for a family friend and my mother was furious—she had forgotten or hadn’t realized that I’d gone to a STRANGER instead of the police (who were miles away for tiny legs) and insisted that I was almost kidnapped that night.

    I shudder to think what might have happened to me, what would happen to other kids, if good people (the majority of us) who see a lost and frightened child turn away out of fear. There will be no one left to find them except the monsters.

    1. Thats a great story, and thank you for sharing it. Whenever we go someplace crowded or new, I always try and designate a place to go to if we get separated, but I have the luxury of her being old enough to understand that. I’ve always told her to try and find somebody in uniform if possible but that might not always be the case. I’ve always told her to look for other people with children second. Good for that guy for helping you, how much scarier might it have been if he hadn’t?

  8. This is the world today, isn’t it? It makes me sad and angry to read about these things. This week we went to Canada’s Wonderland (a big amusement park) and a woman yelled at my husband because he was “standing too close” to her son in a lineup for a busy ride. We were all there, and he had NO idea he was close to someone’s personal space – because we were in a line up of a billion people standing in each other’s personal spaces. She could have been nice about it and had a conversation before she felt the need to yell, but she didn’t. She waited until she felt he had been “too close for too long” –
    her words, and then chose to yell and embarrass us, and herself. Why does it have to be that way? Why don’t we talk to each other anymore? I like to think most people are inherently good (maybe I’m totally wrong…) and I would be so grateful if a helpful stranger stepped up when my child was lost or afraid. Society need to settle down with all the instant rage and suspicion.

    I loved your post!

    1. I can’t even imagine how angry that would make me. If he held his tongue I give him a lot of credit, I’m not sure that I would have been able to

  9. We live in world that is ruled by fear and the flames are fed by media and the elected officials. Yes, there are some nut jobs out there but not many. My ex played into all of that fear. I didn’t because I didn’t feel it was necessary.

  10. These stories are terrible to hear! My husband just told me recently about a story he heard of a man finding a lost young child. Once the parents were found, they claimed that the man had bad intentions with the child even though he was only trying to help and get the child back to his/her parents. My first thought was, “Shouldn’t the parents be the ones getting crap for letting their young kid wander out of the house and/or yard unnoticed?!”

    1. I wonder if it’s the same story. Unfortunately it wouldn’t surprise me at all if this was a more common narrative than we realize

  11. This is exactly why I never share these posts you see on Facebook of someone’s photo and the claim they stole/attacked/did whatever…I don’t know the truth so sharing could easily be causing an innocent person damage.

  12. Such an interesting read, I hadn’t heard about these incidents. It’s so terribly sad that people think the worst of others in those situations when they are only trying to help, and should possibly be questioning whether they are at fault instead.

    1. I think that in this case that was part of it, blaming others before anybody had a chance to blame them. Terrible, regardless of the motives

  13. This is such a thought-provoking read and one in which has a lot of people’s attention. We all feel the same by the look of it. It’s bloody sad it really is. Just to reassure you, on a recent visit to the UK I was playing a tickle game with my nieces and nephews who I hadn’t seen for over 2 years- They hold their arms up, I tickle them, they’re not allowed to put their arms down, if they succeed they get a dollar… that sort of game. One of my nephews had a friend over who asked if he could have a go. He lay down on the floor, we are all laughing, I start to tickle him and all of a sudden he jumps up, running to his mum who was in the other room saying ‘that woman is touching me!!’ I was mortified! So. Just to reassure you that it’s not just men. Needless to say, I will only be playing the tickle game with mu own two from now on. (
    annoying really as I was set to win the dollar…) #Anythinggoes.

    1. Thanks for sharing that, I can’t imagine how annoyed I would be. Annoyed and embarrassed. I guess it’s good that the kid was taught to tell if somebody was touching them, but seems a bit odd if he asked for it. How old was he?

  14. I must be out of the loop-hadn’t heard of this. Disgusting. For the man & his family & for the little girl who is being raised by these people. They took a very teachable moment & just ruined it! What is she learning from this???? (Other than her parents are nuts.)

  15. Fantastic post! People should make much more of an effort to fact check before they share things on social media. There’s so many misunderstandings or just someone with a grudge that smears people’s names, and even once they’re cleared, there’s the “no smoke without fire crowd” who refuse to believe the person is innocent.
    It’s a sad sign of the times when a perfectly normal man feels he has to ignore the pleas of a scared child for help in case he is branded a pervert. I totally agree that if a woman helped the same child, they’d be thanked.
    Thanks for linking up to #AnythingGoes 🙂

    1. Thanks Debbie. I think that in a lot of cases it never even crosses people’s minds that something might not be true. I’m not sure if that comes from believing the worst or just mental laziness.

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