Let's not be quick to judge

HOW quickly we judge.

Within hours of this community learning of the distressing story about a man exposing himself and performing an act in front of children in Kangaroo Flat at the weekend, many were demanding answers about where the parents were at the time.

Before taking the time to consider the situation, they were taking to the online comments section of media websites or talking around the water cooler about how appalling the parenting must have been to allow their children to be swimming in a public park unsupervised.

But that is a completely separate issue – and the thinking behind it is right up there with the victim blaming mentality.

Just as alcohol consumption, the length of a skirt or exposed cleavage has nothing to do with why a woman is raped, the parents were not responsible for a man exposing himself and performing an indecent act in front of their children.

That was his choice. His action. In no way was that caused by irresponsible parenting.

The families of those youngsters are no doubt already going through a difficult time.

It would be blanketed with guilt and hindsight.   

They would already know that to protect their children from predators means taking responsibility for their safety.

But how many of us can say we have never let a group of children play in our own neighbourhoods unsupervised?

A trip to the local park, riding bikes or scooters, walking the dog or just popping around the corner to visit friends ….. honestly, think about it.

We don’t want to feel we have to wrap our children in cotton wool.

We want them to feel we can trust them and take tiny steps into the big world on their own.

So try not to judge.

These families are now caring for youngsters who have experienced trauma.

These families are now caring for youngsters who have experienced trauma.

Let’s not forget that a single, graphic and traumatic episode such as that experienced by the group of children at the weekend can cause a range of emotional responses including embarrassment, fear, confusion, guilt, anxiety and a distrust of adults or strangers.

It’s easy to pass judgement and form your own opinions based on how you think the world should work – but for a moment, put yourself in the shoes of the parents.  

They have a long road ahead. So too, do the children.

These are real families. Real children with real experiences.

They’re not words on a page; not immune to further pain caused by a society too quick to judge.

Let’s remember who we should be judging, here - and it’s not the parents.

Instead, we should be supporting them through what happened – and we should be assisting police to help identify the man.

Anyone with information should phone Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or local police on 5448 1420.

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