Yesterday, I decided to go to the local park for a walk in order to enjoy the beautiful day. There is a mile and a half path around the outer edges of the park so I started on my way. As I passed by the first part of the park, I noticed that the baseball fields were empty and there were only a few people passing by as I made my way about half way around. Soon I could heard the sounds of a group of little ones playing in a Bounce House while other family members were convened arounds some tables that they had set up for a cookout. But, then I[pullquote]We need to pay more attention to our children. We all know how quickly something can occur within our own homes that results in accidents and injuries to the children. Taking them to a park or to the mall or to any location frequented by lots of other peoples requires even more vigilance. No one wants to ever look back and say something like, “If only I had…”[/pullquote] noticed that no one was paying any attention to the little ones and was immediately bothered by the fact that someone could grab one of those kids and run away before anyone would even realized what had happened. The entire experience was immediately changed for me.
As I continued on my way, I saw another child who was about 3 or 4 years old coming directly at me on his bike. He smiled as he went flying by and as I looked around, it became immediately clear that there was no adult anywhere in site. Again, someone could have grabbed this child and made off with him without anyone realizing that anything was wrong, perhaps for some time. Then I rounded a corner and saw a large audience of people sitting on the edge of a soccer field cheering on their favorite teams of young people. However, one little tyke had wandered to the back of the group where she encountered a dog who was running free who knocked her down. As she cried, no one came to her rescue, perhaps because she could not be heard over the cheers of those who were completely immersed in the action on the field.
When I rounded the next corner and headed back in the direction of the car, I saw a man sitting on the hood of his car who was observing everyone very carefully as they went by. As I passed him, I was afraid to even look in his direction and I felt very unsettled. I decided to keep on going a little longer and started around a shortened lap that cuts through the park. When I passed by the guy again about 10 minutes later, he was still sitting on the car, doing nothing. I took about half of that lap again and reversed directions and came by yet again but nothing had changed. So I went to my car which was parked on the opposite side of the parking lot and kept an eye on him for awhile longer. I was trying to decide what I could do but since he hadn’t done anything, there really wasn’t anything to report. I had no idea what he was doing there but as there was no real reason for him to be in that particular location along the path, he seemed very suspicious.
I am still unsettled about what I saw in the park yesterday. I could not believe that people were actually leaving their small children unattended. I know how easy it can be to get distracted by another child or a cell phone and to lose track of a child for a moment but that is all of the time that is needed for a child to be snatched. And now with school ending and the children spending even more time in the parks, there are even more chances for bad things to happen. That dog on the loose could have bitten the little child that it had knocked down. The children that were playing unsupervised in the Bounce House could have hurt each other and no one at the tables may have even heard what was going on because they were too busy socializing. The small child riding unattended on the paths could have fallen and been injured and no one was close by to attend to him. And heaven only knows what the intentions may have been of the man who was sitting on the hood of his car for a long period of time doing nothing but observing those who passed by.
We need to pay more attention to our children. We all know how quickly something can occur within our own homes that results in accidents and injuries to the children. Taking them to a park or to the mall or to any location frequented by lots of other peoples requires even more vigilance. No one wants to ever look back and say something like, “If only I had…” It is always better to be safe than sorry. I know that I don’t want to go back to that park today for a walk because it was not the fun time that I had expected it to be and that is sad. Not only will I not enjoy the great space that has been created for all to enjoy but also I probably won’t bother getting that exercise either.
Barbara Jacoby is an award winning blogger that has contributed her writings to multiple online publications that have touched readers worldwide.