Wednesday, February 27, 2013

An Ethical Question

I realize that the topic discussed below has nothing to do with running.  Or with eating healthy. However, it was a surprising experience for me and something I cannot get off my mind.  So, because I am thinking about it, I am going to write about it.

On Saturday night when Dan, Abby, Ina, and I were headed to the hockey game, Dan noticed we needed to stop for gas.  There was a lot of snow on the roads, so we took a back-way to the gas station.  This was my first time entering the neighborhood behind our favorite Quick Trip.  I had seen it many times from the highway, but never came closer than that.  The houses, for the most part, were small and run down. I saw a church and a school I didn't know existed.  I didn't even know what town we were technically in.  Just as I was getting ready to ask Dan what school district the elementry school belonged to I heard him gasp.

I turned my head to follow his line of vision and could not believe what I saw.  A little girl, two, maybe three years old, was running down the middle of the road.  That fact alone would be bad.  The fact that it was a very cold, snowy Febuary day, made it worse.  The fact that this little girl was wearing only a small pair of underwear, made it absolutely, gut-wrenching, sickening.  She had long dark hair that looked like she had just got out of bed, except it was almost time for the sun to set.  She had tan skin, and still plenty of baby fat.  Her little bare feet were skuttling along the pavement.  There was a worried look on her face.

Running in front of her was a little boy.  He was a few years older.  Skinnier.  Paler.  He was fortunate enough to be wearing pajama pants.  However, he also had barefeet and no shirt on.  

My heart sank as I stared at them in disbelief, literally not believeing my eyes. 

A truck coming from the opposite direction stopped in front of them.  At first I thought that the driver knew the children, but just as the children reached it, they turned the corner.  

Within seconds of seeing this I grabbed the door handle.  Locked.  As I was yelling, "let me out" Dan had the car in park and pressed unlock.

By that time the kids were 30 yards ahead of me, still running their hearts out.  "Hi!" I yelled.  

Nothing.  They kept on running.

"Helllooo!" I yelled as I ran after them.  

The little boy turned his head but didn't stop.

"Hi!  Please stop.  My name is Racheal.  I'm nice."

The little boy slowed down and finally stopped, but the girl's little feet kept on moving.

"What are you doing outside?" I asked.

"We can't find our dog.  We lost him."  By this time the little girl had stopped and was nodding her head in agreement.  

"Oh."  I didn't really know how to respond.  What I wanted to do was open the door to our warm car and tell them to jump in.  "Are you doing home now?"

They nodded.  

The door of a house close to where they stood opened and a teenage girl stepped outside and screamed, "Get in here right now!"  

The kids didn't give me a second look as they ran inside the house.  The door shut.

I stayed outside and stared at that door for a few seconds while Dan drove up to where I stood.  When I got in the car he was giving the 911 operator the address of the house.  The operator assured us that they would send someone soon to the house.

Dan drove to the gas station.  As he was pumping the gas, I couldn't get those poor children off my mind.  I couldn't stop asking myself if we did the right thing.

Was calling 911 and driving away enough?  What if those kids needed more help?  Will the police officer do enough?  

Was calling 911 too much? What if the parents thought the kids were taking a nap and they snuck out of the house?  Lord knows I was pretty sneaky with my parents.  

My biggest fear is that the police officer did come to the house, give the parents a warning, and leave the children to wrath of the parents who didn't want 911 called on them.  That they would be punished not just for going outside without clothes on, but for getting their parents in trouble.  

I pray we did the right thing.

What would you have done?

7 comments:

  1. That's a tough deal. I know as a school counselor, I am a mandated reporter, so if I see/hear of anything involving kiddos being abused or neglected (which this sounds like/safety concern)I am mandated to report it. Another way could have been to call and make a report to your states children's services agency.
    I think that you did the right thing!

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  2. You did the right thing! I will keep them in my prayers!

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  3. It's definitely tricky, it's a "welfare call" because you were concerned and you were trying make sure the kids are safe and ok, not trying to lock-up the parents. Just remember you did the right thing for the kids- if everything is okay in the home, then nothing will come of it. However, there's always the worst-case and it might have been a good thing to have the cops drop by to check in.

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  4. I think you did the only thing that you could, and it was the right choice. When I stumble across these situations and I question whether or not to act - I remind myself that I would not be able to live with myself if I returned home, turned on the television and heard a news report about some tragedy that I may have been able to stop. I was once running an errand during lunch and turned down a street I've never been on. Right in front of me was a massive group of young kids. In the middle of this crowd were two girls fighting so violently that one girl was slamming the head of the other girl into the hood of a car. I immediately locked my car and dialed 911. When I recounted the story to a friend they said, "Why the hell did you call? Those kids could have turned on you!" Perhaps, but I would have hated myself had I heard a news report about one of those girls being gravely injured, or worse.You did the right thing.

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  5. Great post! I think you did the right thing, and I would have done the same. Those poor kids!

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  6. Wow.. it's all I can say. Sometimes we forget about the lives that other people lead. Poor kids.

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  7. This post gave me chills. You absolutely did the right thing and yes I would have done the same thing.

    ~Adrianne (it only lets me post as anonymous on my kindle for some odd reason)

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