Readers — Once again, I’m just at a loss for words. Here’s the story of a 14-year-old boy named Edwin who was shopping with his mom at a Burlington Coat Factory in Florida. When he saw a 3-year-old girl looking lost he took her around to try to find her mom. His own mom saw him go looking and said she would try to help, too.
Then Edwin saw a group of women leaving the store and thought the girl’s mom might be among them. So he went out of the store and finally took the little girl’s hand. When he realized the mom wasn’t among this group, he returned to the store. He met up with his mom and the girl’s mom. He handed the little girl over and proceeded to shop for shoes with his own mom.
And then he was arrested for “attempted abduction.” The press arrived as he was lead out of the store in handcuffs. This wonderful column by Mike Thomas in the Orlando Sentinel says it best:
Edwin is quite the kidnapper. He brings his mom along. He hangs out in front of the store until the victim’s mother shows up. And then he returns to the store and starts shopping for shoes.
That’s one cool customer.
Detectives arrived and investigated. They then slapped the cuffs on Edwin and paraded him out in front of television cameras by now waiting outside.
“We tried to be sensitive to the fact he was 14,” said Orange County sheriff’s spokesman Jeff Williamson. “We made an effort to keep direct questions out of his face.”
Hardly. Two reporters shoved microphones in Edwin’s face without any objection from the detectives escorting him. One of the investigators probably could have bitten one of the reporters on the arm.
“Can you tell us why you’re in handcuffs?” a reporter shouted out. “Did you try to kidnap someone?”
Despite his young age, one television station identified Edwin and put the video of his arrest on its website…. But look at the evidence.
We have the little girl’s mother losing track of her daughter.
We have Edwin’s mother not taking the girl from Edwin and turning her over to a store employee.
And we have Edwin in handcuffs.
I’m not sure the problem here is with the 14-year-old.
Interestingly enough, the girl’s mother never did press charges. But the Sheriff’s Office decided it would, ultimately settling on a charge of false imprisonment.
“He was in custody of the child and had no authority to be so,” said Capt. Angelo Nieves. “The thing is to make clear we have not charged him with an offense that did not occur.”
Let’s recall, meantime, what happens when it becomes the norm to suspect any Good Samaritan, of any age, under any circumstances, of the most disgusting of motives. Recall the story of the man in England who also saw a lost toddler, this one on the side of the road he was driving by. He thought of stopping the car, scooping her up and driving her around till he could find where she’d wandered off from. But then he thought, “What will it look like if I’ve got a little girl who’s not mine in my car?” He knew exactly what it would look like. So he didn’t pick her up.
And then she drowned.
I hate that story (but can’t find it on Google — can you, readers? Please provide a link!) And I hate the one above it. When we react to our fellow human beings with the very worst, most vile assumptions first, we are less and less apt to reach out and help each other. That’s not a safer world. It’s the opposite. — Lenore
P.S. A reader named Fred did find a link to the English tragedy.