So I was going to Target…(I’m beginning to think I could write a book of essays just based on my trips to Target…

Let me set the location of my local Target: It’s on a busy street in Manhattan. There are always people walking these streets and there are always cars, trucks and busses.

You get that this is a busy, highly trafficked location. I can not stress enough how many people pass by here…

So I’m approaching Target…

And I see a young girl outside the store, with a man who I will presume to be a relation (I have to take a guess here as I have no real knowledge)

The girl is about three/four years old.

The girl is just wearing her underpants.

What are my thoughts at this moment?

  1. I am a Mom. I know how hard it is sometimes to get your kid to wear things, like socks and hats. I understand that clothing can also fall under that umbrella.
  2. If we were at the park and this was the sprinkler, would this be an issue for me?
  3. Would I be as worried if this were a little boy running around in his underwear? Am I being a sexist?
  4. Do I have a problem with nudity? Am I a prude?
  5. It’s not especially hot today
  6. Gee, if I did a sex offender map, the whole neighborhood would probably light up. This is an area with SRO’s and shelters. While some of those people might be down on their luck, some of them might not be (FYI- when my daughter was under 18 I needed to volunteer at the soup kitchen with her because so many of the people who visited were registered sex offenders. And the place we used to volunteer at wouldn’t let her serve people: we could only do the prep before it opened to the public)
  7. Is this guy even her Father? Sorry, I totally had to wonder this…I know it’s wrong but this is still a young kid
  8. Is it any of my business what this kid is wearing, because really, is there anything wrong with a child being outside in her undies?
  9. If someone were to take a picture of her, and send it, would it be distributing child porn?

If you saw a kid on the street wearing just underpants, what would your thoughts be?

I chose not to do anything. Because really, I don’t know the situation. Is it fair for me to intrude on this scene when I have absolutely no facts?

Was my course of action the right one?

I don’t know.

How do you know when to intercede in a situation?

If you were me, what would you have done?

77 thoughts on “Is It a Problem

  1. As always, LA , you encourage us to think deeply.
    Like you, I would be concerned for the little girl, and the person with her. This would send a warning to me.
    I agree that you were right not to intervene. It I had seen this, I would pray for that child, and her guardian. I am actually praying for her right now.
    Thanks for volunteering with your daughter. 🤗🌷🌼

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Yes, that is understandable. Life always brings the unexpected.
        But your tender heart shows, since you were concerned for that child.
        Children are so vulnerable.
        Glad your dad is doing better, I’ve been praying for him. 🌷🤗

        Liked by 1 person

  2. You right- it’s none of your business how others choose to lead their lives. But you sound like a kind human being with lots of compassion, concern and understanding for life – you also want to do the best for people. But how far do you go?
    I’d be happy if someone asked me in time of distress if they could help, If I was struggling with something. So I would do the same, we can only say no if we are ok.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The kid didn’t appear to be in distress…but what’s the difference between what’s happening versus projecting what you think is happeninh

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      1. We can go through life seeing the bad side to everything. That’s when anxiety eats us up. They say there is no point in worrying about things we can’t change.
        Kids often don’t want to get dressed. They may have been exerting their independence, a frustrated parent/grandparent with no energy to argue anymore. These I can relate to!
        Its good to raise awareness, but should we be assuming the worse of every odd situation?

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I would have thought everything you listed as well, perhaps not approached them (depending on things like loud words, how much contact and what kind was adult having with child, child’s reaction, etc) but simply entered the store and headed for an associate to alert security/management to an “unusual situation” at the door…

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Yes, but in the case of a small child I think I would push the limits on being a Karen. My other thought, I wonder if I would act differently based on where this was happening, meaning your Target in busy downtown Manhattan, versus my semi-rural Target in a family-aged community…

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Location…that’s an interesting variable…which location is more troubling…and the karen thing is interesting. Are we now more reluctant to say something because we are afraid of being labeled?

        Liked by 2 people

      3. But you always give me food for thought….and more things to write about…so consider all these posts on your head….and whether thats a good or bad thing…😆

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Society is a grow-up, or get left, kinda town. And if one views tragic outcome on news then guilt. Everybody got problems, the problem over there could be explained by a simple nod of the head, saying this is pandemic living.

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  5. So I can’t help but wonder if living in the city of New York makes this less shocking. It’s hard to know what I’d do. But I’d be likely to hang nearby and observe their interactions to see if something isn’t right. I mean, in general its never right for a little girl to be in just underwear (particularly the setting you described). So I’d have to first stick around to determine if things felt off. Depending on my observations, that would decide my next steps.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. When you share your thought process, it always make me think! These scenarios are when intuition is so important . I think if something was wrong your internal alarm bells would have been ringing. Hopefully the little girl is safe and well-cared for and it was just an odd moment.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Ok I think you took the right course of action. I will owe up to this, as a mother of a five year old boy, he likes to run around without a shirt on in the house. We’ve been in 30 degree weather. I let him because it’s just me and his father in the house BUT if he’s going out side he has a shirt on. If he goes anywhere other then the house he has a shirt on- even the splash pad. If I saw this a lot of bad assumptions would follow. I would be weary of perverts taking pictures. I would wonder if the father was her father because while they don’t like to wear clothes, you still make your child wear clothes. Yes it’s more acceptable for a young child to run around without proper clothes but still, at target, a high traffic place, get some shorts on that kid. Maybe I’m the prude.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Argh! The child could have peed all over herself who knows. But yes, I would totally be concerned. That situation is odd. On one hand maybe the dad is divorced and not prepared to handle the situation. On the other hand is the child safe? Years of teaching experience would force me to act. I probably would have asked if the child needed a tee shirt. If so I would offer to get her a shirt. His answer would reveal if he were legit, clueless, or nefarious. I’d also probably identify myself as a retired teacher so I wouldn’t look too nosy.
    My reactions are most likely more involved than most because I was responsible for so many children over the years. But, I’ve also seen my share of abuse too. So I ere on the side of caution.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I might be a little concerned, depending on how the child was acting, but probably not do anything about it for fear of intruding. I know my daughter never wanted to wear sweaters even when it was cold and the principal of her school used to comment to me about it. I told her I pick and choose my battles and if she (my daughter) was cold, she’d put a sweater on. I also have a friend who has an autistic son and when he was younger he never wanted to wear shirts with sleeves for some reason. Now if the child was totally naked, then I might have thought about making some kind of comment. My husband the extrovert would probably have gone right up and started talking to the guy, father to father style.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your point about an autistic child is a good one. There may certainly have been a situation where the child had a sensory disorder and wearing underwear was a “win” for the father, a compromise. We’ll never know. LA, you seemed to have gauged the emotional tone of the situation and not seen a threat. That’s probably the best you could do, but your question is a tough one.

      Liked by 2 people

  10. I think you read the situation looking for signs of distress and found none. I sense your radar was on high alert and as you walked by you had some conflict of whether you needed to take action. I understand. I was on a bike ride the other day and I found a young teen sprawled on his back, fully clothed and his eyes shut. I rode on but really wondered if I should have checked if he was ok or phoned someone? Now I am wondering again.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. This is a tough situation. I can think of many things to do, but are any of them the right solution? Should we stick our noses into other people’s business? Or should we hope for the best? This is a conundrum!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. No right or wrong here…just saying. It would depend on the feeling I get about the situation; what does my intuition say. Seriously, that’s a big thing for me. If I get a sense there is an issue, I would inquire; if not, just leave them be.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. If the child seemed comfortable with the man, I think I would let it go. Sometimes kids spill their drinks or throw up on their clothes, and the only choice is to remove them. Maybe the Mom was inside, buying more? But if the child seemed at all uncomfortable, I think I would have notified a store employee that there was a situation that needed attention.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Hmmmm. Older folks used to make comments to me all the time when my children were little: that child needs a hat, it’s too cold to be walking a baby in this weather, etc. I was offended, but on the other hand sometimes parents are oblivious. I might have said something, maybe not, depending on my mood. I think being elder statesmen gives us a right to call people out when they’re acting stupid, like the idiot I saw texting riding a bike. “Not cool!” I said. He got the message.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As a parent whose child was constantly taking her socks and shoes off in the stroller, I tell people to shut up…because really…I would have needed to glue them on

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Really tough situation, I would have focused on the child, did she look distressed, dirty, bruised? You can feel fear. I know my daughter lives across the street and on occasion the twins (4 years old) come out front in their underwear. I tend to chase them back indoors for some proper clothing. My fear is someone walking down the street getting the wrong impression. Warmly, C

    Liked by 1 person

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