WATER COOLER: Did I do the right thing by helping a child?


I had a quick dip at Tannum Sands on Saturday, like I do most weekends. Straight out of the water I was putting my hat and sunglasses back on, and dancing on my toes because the sand was so hot.

There was a family of five headed off the beach also; good thinking as it was just coming onto midday.

Dad was quick off the beach, already up around the boardwalk, with the eldest child in tow.

Mum was carrying the youngest, still a baby; she also rushed off the beach, running past me, her feet clearly copping a scalding.

Child 3, probably around two years or 18 months old, was left to her own devices. I thought that was OK; the expectation on her probably that she should leg it alongside mum.

But she didn't - she stood there for a while, before falling on her bottom and she started to cry.

I was ready to trot off the beach too, my toes starting to burn; and so held out my hand to this little girl and said: 'come on, you can hold my hand and we'll walk off together'. This was the best news to her; she jumped up, grabbed my hand and off we went.

But soon she was dancing on her feet, the sand burning.

So I whisked her up into my arms and we ran off the beach together.

I was quickly working through what on earth I was going to say to Mum and Dad, who were now watching this stranger with their child, with rather stern looks on their faces.



I mumbled something about 'is that a second turtle nest, do you know' but was only met with silence from Dad who quickly took Child 3 from my arms.

I went on: 'hot sand' and 'she needed help off the beach' but it seemed everything I was saying Dad might have been able to take as a blight on their parenting.

Mum had nothing to say; just watching as I trotted past, back to my car.

What do you do when you see a child at risk?

This poll ended on 30 January 2016.

I help. No hesitation. I know my intentions are pure - 65%

I want to help but second guess myself. I know how we are taught to see strangers - 20%

I've helped in the past and have regretted it. Now I mind my own business - 12%

I don't help anyone for any reason - 1%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

Plagued by their reaction, I spent the whole drive home wondering if I'd done the right thing. Yes, of course, by the child, but I realise now what my actions must have looked like to Mum and Dad.

I hadn't meant to suggest they had done anything wrong but my actions certainly left their parenting in question.

The only saving grace in my mind was the little girl who afforded me a cheeky smile and a wave as she walked away.

* Rowan Hunnam is the Editor of the Gladstone Observer

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