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Dutchess_III's avatar

What would you have done if you saw a little kid riding a bike on the sidewalk very inappropriately under dressed for the weather?

Asked by Dutchess_III (43051points) November 20th, 2011

This just happened to me. I was driving down a residential street. He looked to be 5, may 6. I saw him and thought, “Gee. He’s awfully young to be riding around here by himself.” But he did something so many kids don’t do—he actually dismounted at the intersection, checking traffic, so I stopped to let him cross. He carefully checked the other direction before he ran the bike across the street. Too many kids don’t do that…they just barrel out into the street, so I was please that someone had obviously taught the child basic bike safety, even if he did RUN the bike across.

He crossed. As I started forward I glanced at him again and did a double take. It suddenly hit me…all he had on was shorts, and T-shirt and flip flops…AND IT’S 33 FREAKIN’ DEGREES OUTSIDE!

He was just a little guy, not dressed for freezing weather in any way, shape or form, peddling this bike down the sidewalk.

I pulled over and called 911. When I told the dispatcher she gave a startled, “OH!!” and reacted so fast she didn’t bother to get my name or verify the number…..

As a drove away I wondered if I should have gotten out and wrapped my coat around him? Should I have followed him further? Should I have…should I have…..should I have…?
What would you guys have done?

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31 Answers

john65pennington's avatar

You are very observant and you are to be commended for this.

Yes, you made the call to the police, but you should have been told by the dispatcher to stay with the child, until the officer arrived. And, yes a wrap of some kind should have placed on the child in freezing temperatures.

A lot of people do not realize that police calls are given priority numbers, just like injured and sick people in an ER. A computer gives the call a number, based on the information it is given and attaches a number to it. I do not agree with this, but this is the future and humans have lost the human touch in just about everything.

Dutchess_III's avatar

She didn’t say anything, just disconnected immediately. I would be afraid of scaring the child if I pulled up alongside him and approached him…

I’s a small town. The cops can be from here to there in about 30seconds. I’ll call them, see what they found out.
I wish I’d at least stayed with him, even from a distance. : (

john65pennington's avatar

Everyday, I learn something and you did what you thought was correct. You did fine. Checking out the police call results would be interesting for me to know, too.

Great question.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Thanks, John…I called. They got there right away, but didn’t see him so he apparently made it where ever he was going. I WISH I’d at least kept him in sight, so the police would have an address on their radar. :(

LuckyGuy's avatar

I’d want to help the kid. But if I was in my car alone and it was a quiet street with no witnesses I would seriously be tempted to drive on. I’d be afraid of someone thinking I was a pervert or something.
Sad, but true. A woman is in a better position to be a good Samaritan in this case.
With all the crap that is going on in the news now, just imagine what would happen if an adult male stopped and gave the kid his coat. Yep. Like I said, “Sad, but true.”

filmfann's avatar

Suddenly wrapping a stranger’s child with a coat could get you a quick visit with the perv patrol, if not a cap in yo’ ass by a parent who should have been protective about dressing their child warmly, but draws the line at strangers touching their kids.

HungryGuy's avatar

@worriedguy & @filmfann – I was about to say the exact same thing. Best to call the police anonymously and drive away. But if I talked to someone else’s kid, I’d be afraid he’d start screaming his bloody head off and I’d be the one to get arrested for pedophilia. Even calling the police these days is a risk; suppose some crime was going on involving the runaway kid, the police have your number and now you’re a suspect.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Those are the very reasons I didn’t stop and approach the child. But I COULD have kept an eye on him from a distance until the cops got there…but I didn’t. : (

Dutchess_III's avatar

@HungryGuy suppose some crime was going on involving the runaway kid, the police have your number and now you’re a suspect. No…not likely in this small town. I wouldn’t take that paranoia too far.

HungryGuy's avatar

@Dutchess_III – When it comes to children, people are nutty and insanely overprotective…

creative1's avatar

Good job calling the police!!! There was nothing more you could do unless you know the 800 number for child services in your area but the police will probably handle that portion anyways.

jrpowell's avatar

You should try physical activity sometime. I’m skinny as a twig and get hot when I ride my bike. The kid was probably fine and what made him was cold was dealing with the bullshit you thrust upon him.

flutherother's avatar

Kids don’t feel the cold. I wouldn’t have intervened unless the kid was in distress which he didn’t seem to be.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Good for you. In that kind of weather I’d be more concerned than when hot sweaty playing kids are out in 50+ degree weather.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Two degree above freezing, according to the one bank I looked at, which could have been a degree or two off, and @johnpowell and @flutherother think it’s just fine that he’s out there in shorts and flip flops? What is wrong with you? And not “feeling” the cold the same way as adults is just a perception. It doesn’t mean that they can’t freeze to death or suffer from the effects of hypothermia as quick, or quicker than adults.
@flutherother..just how would you have determined that the kid was in distress? He didn’t look happy. He didn’t LOOK like he was just out having fun. He could barely ride the bike.

@Neizvestnaya you lost me! What?

Dutchess_III's avatar

@johnpowell I can’t believe you said, “You should try physical activity sometime.” You’re preaching to the preacher, man. After all of this time you don’t know anything about me?? As a typical example of my weekends: The last two weekends, since we closed on the land have been spent at the land clearing brush and trees, hauling rocks and debris to the trailer.
Before that I spent a couple of weekends reinforcing our old privacy fence to stop the dogs from getting out. It meant hauling out boards, fighting through brush and stuff, and leaning on a heavy duty drill till I was ready to drop. I had blisters on my thumb.

Today I spent 5 hours at home, outside raking and hauling leaves. I had on a t-shirt, a sweat shirt over that, fleece lined slicks, shoes and shocks and a heavy winter coat. Along about 3:00, the warmest part of any day, I was “warm” enough to shuck the coat, until about 4:30 when it started cooling down again. I’m sure the sleet coming in contributed to that. My toes and fingers were getting numb from the cold when I finally called it a day.

Sure thing. Send your defenseless child out into weather like that with nothing but a bathing suit on.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@john65pennington I don’t think our dispatch system goes through any kind of computer. For non-emergency calls I call the regular number (the last 4 digits are 5555 so it’s easy to remember.) The phone may ring 3 or 4 times before someone answers. But the few times I’ve called actual 911, the phone is picked up by a person immediately. I can also then hear them talking over the mic, dispatching the cars to where ever.
In bigger cities, do people have to talk to a computer first???

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I’m not trigger happy on calling the police on everything, no sir. I’d talk to the kid, ask him where his parents are and go from there.

JLeslie's avatar

I would have asked the kid if he is close to home, if he is too cold, and would he like to call his mom to come get him.

blueiiznh's avatar

I would have called the police. I live in a very small town and know that if I tried to follow the child or talk to him or do anything, it might get seen as a potentially wrong act to someone passing by. I have actually driven down the street as my daughter drove next to me and a person in a car took the time to ask if that was my child i was following.

If you are concerned, make a call.

JLeslie's avatar

I would think in a small town people would be less suspicious. I find the answers surprising. Not that I think there is anything wrong with calling the police to make sure the child is safe. I would do the same if I felt unsure after trying to talk to him.

blueiiznh's avatar

@JLeslie I have found in a small town people truly care about the people in their own small community more than a large one.

Aethelwine's avatar

In a small town most of us would know who the little boy was and tell him to get shoes on or go home. ;)

JLeslie's avatar

@blueiiznh In my community I don’t think people would be crazy suspicious if an adult asked a child a question from a safe distance in their car. Anyone nearby would hopefully walk over or stop also and want to help the kid too. My town is about 10,000 people fairly spread out, so it feels smallish.

People in all sized cities care about children, not just small towns.

blueiiznh's avatar

@JLeslie I didnt say they wouldnt want to help. By asking if I should be there just following IS their way of helping. I was only trying to make it a point that people do care and they will stand up and do something.
10,000 is fairly small in my book. And I do agree that people care in all size towns. We are on the same page.

JLeslie's avatar

@blueiiznh But you said people in small towns people truly care about… What does that mean? That they are more likely to take action? I spend time in very big cities, I grew up in the burbs of NY and DC, we would make sure a kid was safe. I believe you that we are on the same page, I just found your wording odd.

blueiiznh's avatar

@JLeslie I am not in this question to debate how i framed my answer or hijack the question. So sorry i used the term truly. I too grew up in the city and find people care in all places. There are differences between midwest, east, west, etc, but we all care and would act how we will.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I was concerned about approaching the kid. IDK…I think if I was only 5 or 6 it would scare me for someone to get out of their car and try to flag me down. ..If I was walking, then yes. I wouldn’t hesitate to talk to him, but to jump out of the car? Or roll down a window and holler at him?
I thought the child would be more open to the police approaching him. Maybe, maybe not. I just know that I only had a second to react. I guess part of it was I rolled a few yards down, pulled into a parking lot to make the call and lost sight of him at that point. He never came past the car, so I assume he either went down an alley or down another street. At any rate, the police never saw him.
So much went thorough my head….

JLeslie's avatar

@Dutchess_III I agree it could have scared him, I thought of that when I was writing my answer. It really depends on the situation and how much his parents have freaked him out about strangers in cars.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Yeah…it was just one of those calls. I wish I knew the story. Like I said, he wasn’t playing. It wasn’t like he was riding up and down in front of a house. He was on a mission. He was very intent on getting somewhere and he had to cross a fairly busy stree to get where he was going….

Another thing I thought of…you know how dangerous it is to ride a bike with flip flops?? I ripped the hell out of my heel when I was a kid riding a bike in those (except we called them ‘Jap Flaps’ in those days…) Crazy situation all around.

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