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‘Suspicious Man’: Creepy Pervert Or Loving Grandpa?

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When I lived in Israel during my last year of college, I got used to seeing a bomb squad blowing up suspicious objects all over town (like on a bus, for instance, or a park bench). Most of the time the object was nothing more than a discarded lunch but, hey, you can never be too careful.

The same thinking must’ve applied to parents in a Pocatello, Idaho park who freaked out over a suspicious man in their local park. They say he was taking pictures of children and, when confronted by parents, ran off. Local News 8 reported later that day that the suspicious man “with white hair and a beard” was driving a tan/brown van and that, “If anyone has information about this man, police would like them to call police dispatch.”

Guess who called the cops? The man himself, who says he was at the park taking pictures of his grandson. He also claimed to have never run away but that he simply walked away from a woman who started yelling in his face. Needless to say, police are no longer worried about the “suspicious man.”

What is it about so many parents, myself included, that automatically makes us assume the worst in these types of situations (like the guy is some sort of pervert/pedophile)? It’s often difficult to draw the line between being an aware/involved parent and a neurotic one. What do you think? Are these Idaho park parents crazy – or did they err on the side of caution? Would they have reacted the same way to a woman?

(Photo: iStockphoto)

5 Comments

  1. Abigail

    July 28, 2011 at 8:25 pm

    I definitely think they overreacted. My husband was once assulted by a terrible man at a playground who demanded why he was taking pictures. Then the man began screaming at my husband that he had to show proof which child belonged to him or he was going to call the cops and demanding that he be allowed to go through all of our photos to be sure his child wasn’t in any of them. We were horrified, of course, because both of our sweet little boys were crying by this time, and confused about the fight, and our whole trip to the park was ruined. All we were trying to do was get some cute summer photos for the grandparents. There is a way to fish around to find out what a person with a camera is doing without being a jerk and over the top.

  2. Krystal

    July 31, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    When I have noticed someone taking pictures/video, I make sure I know who they belong with. One time there was a mom interacting with her kids, and a man using his camera. The mom had not interacted this the man while we had been there, so I politely asked him who he was there with. He was very understanding, and we laughed about it afterward. You cannot go up to someone with terrible assumptions or yell at them. I was being concerned, but not rude. My child was playing with his, and he understood my concern. If he had been offended, we simply would have left the park. It is my job to protect my child (and other people’s for my job), so I pay attention to those around us.
    Another time, while on a field trip, another mom asked me if we knew the man who was sitting alone a park bench near the playground. He was our charter bus driver (and he was wearing ID), and she was reassured by that info. It was perfectly understandable for her to check up on him, and I would have done the same thing in her place.

  3. Jordan Hunter

    May 22, 2012 at 8:19 pm

    I would rather assume the worse and apologize and be wrong than to assume the best in humanity and regret if said suspicious person hurt my child. You never know these days.

    • sandefjording

      October 12, 2014 at 4:26 am

      What a dumb person are you. Have you seen some police statistics? These days are in fact SAFER than they have ever been, no matter where in the Western World you come from!! You are just another person who is being brainwashed by the cable TVs and tabloid media. People like you, when being numerous, can turn free societies into fascist ones where everybody is scared of everyone.

  4. sandefjording

    October 12, 2014 at 4:24 am

    Why is it so? Because you are freaked out by tabloid media and your stupid cable TVs that have to fill the programme with something 24/7/365 and since the U.S. is populated enough in order to bring on air a “child molesting case” every day, you freak out despite the chance is being as slim as an airplane falling on your heads. You stopped thinking critically and independently and this is the result. Shame on you, the brave generations of your forefathers who founded the U.S. as the land of the free and home of the brave. You are neither free nor brave any more. Where are the Americans with the pioneer spirit who were not scared about every damn thing?

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