THE mother of two of five children traumatised by a man who indecently exposed himself and chased a 12-year-old girl at Kangaroo Flat is asking for understanding.
Jacqui* believes the two families have been punished enough for an event where “kids will be kids’’ and the focus should instead be on the man who acted inappropriately towards their children.
The children were swimming in the Rotary Gateway Park on Saturday when a man in his 50s spoke inappropriately to them before indecently exposing himself and performing an act.
“I just want him caught,’’ Jacqui said. “My daughter used to ride to the shop and get the papers or take the dog for a walk, but she won’t do that now.
“She is not the kid she used to be and she blames herself. My son is trying to get into bed with me at night.’’
Jacqui said her children would usually be disciplined for going somewhere without permission, but in this case, they had suffered enough.
“If this didn’t happen and they came home with dirty, wet clothes I would have said ‘you went where?’’ and ‘you could have drowned’ and made them go to bed early and think about it.
“But they are being punished enough.
“The punishment now is 10 times worse than having an Ipod taken off her for a day.
“I wish I could do something.’’
Jackie grew up during a time when she and her friends sold oranges in their local neighbourhood for money for lollies.
She has allowed her children to play freely within their own neighbourhood, trusting them to do the right thing.
On Saturday evening, she believed her children were at a friend's house in the next block.
"Maybe I should have made sure they were still there, but kids will be kids,'' she said.
“I’m not a parent that says ‘get out of my hair, go outside and play’.
“But some are making me out to be an unfit parent, and I’m really disheartened by what people are saying.
“They don’t know me, they don’t know my children.
“The kids will tell you their mum is strict and if they had come to me and said can we go to the lake for a swim, I would have said no.
“The lake is really yucky and there’s no way I would have allowed that.
“Besides, my daughter is the sister not the mother and I would have said go outside and put the sprinkler on.
“My kids also know there are bad men, and women, out there.’’
Jacqui is hopeful that in speaking out, others will understand the issue is not about parenting, but about the fact a man is still in their neighbourhood and putting all children at risk.
"This is not about me and not all about my kids, it's about all the other kids, too,'' she said.
"But I understand you can't have the stranger talk with them every day.
"I'm just constantly thinking of ways to find him - I just want him caught.''
This is not about me and not all about my kids, it's about all the other kids, too.