A mum has sparked a debate online after asking parents what they’d do if a stranger tried to play with their child without permission.
The mother of a three-year-old boy took to a parenting forum to ask other parents how they would react ‘in this situation’ if an unknown man tried to physically interact and play with their child without asking for permission from the parent.
The post has sparked huge debate amongst users on Mumsnet, with some feeling that men are unfairly made to feel suspicious, whilst others agreed that it’s inappropriate to pick up someone else’s child without asking.
The user, who is anonymous, explained that she was sitting in a hairdressers while her son played on the other side of the salon.
‘Yesterday we was at the hairdressers geting my 3 yo son’s hair cut. My baby was asleep on my knee and my 3 yo was playing opposite side of the room with another little boy.’
The mum-of-two continued to explain that a man, who she refers to as ‘strange’, entered the salon, seeming to be ‘chatty’.
‘A strange man who seemed to be a regular at the hairdressers as he was very chatty to owner etc. He done hi five to my son and the other little boy when he walked over to them.’
According to the mum, the man proceeded to take hold of her three-year-old’s hands and lift him onto his feet, letting go after the mum had called for her son three times.
‘He then said to my son grab my hands and stand on my feet and kind of pushed him back and forth, I called my son over to me 3 times then the man let go and lifted him down. It all happened in the space of 1 min or so.
‘Just to add he gave me a leaflet of his and said have a read of this before walking over to my son. Now I’m wondering if he done this to distract my attention.’
The forum user finishes her post asking other parents what they would do in that situation and if she had cause for concern, or if it was simply another adult being friendly.
‘I felt un easy about the man doing this and feel I should of gone straight over and told him to take his hands of my son. Am I over reacting about this? How would you of handled this?
‘Has the man crossed the line? Iv never been in that situation before and feel like I should of delt with it better. Has anything similar happen to any of you? What did you think of this situation?’
Forum users flooded the post with comments, seeing the situation from every angle.
One forum user addressed the fact that the stranger was male, ‘Out of interest, would you have been as upset if it was a woman at the hairdressers chatting & playing with DS?’
‘It’s sad that men in particular are always treated suspiciously if they are trying to be friendly to children. It was a public place, you were there & his behaviour doesn’t seem dodgy at all to me.’
However another user felt that in general any adult should be wary of touching another person’s child, ‘I think it’s a commonly excepted social convention that you don’t touch another person’s child unless you absolutely have to – for example if you work in a nursery or a hospital. In my experience grownups who pretend to be unaware of this convention normally have an agenda. Sad but just the way things are.’
Some users felt that as the child was in full view and within the same space as the mum, it would be an overreaction to think that they could have been harmed in that situation.
‘Is it likely he would have attempted something with you right opposite him? Sounds like you’re completely overreacting to me’, one said.
Another, however, added: ‘I’m a big believer in listening to your instincts in these situations but maintaining an open mind at the same time. I would not have felt comfortable with the situation you described either due to the physical contact with a stranger- and would have stepped in discreetly without making a big thing about it.’
What would you have done in this situation? Have you ever experienced something similar? Tell us your thoughts in the comment box below.