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Creeped out and angry

post #1 of 63
Thread Starter 
We were at a harvest festival in a nearby small town today. My sister was there performing a dance with her school. Halfway through the performance, my dad pointed out a totally creepy older guy with a big camera. He had a SERIOUS telephoto lens. He was filthy, smoking, and wearing ripped clothing and did NOT look like he was working for a newspaper or anything like that. My dad said that he didn't think much of him until he tried to take a picture of my DS with whom my father was playing. (My dad put himself in between the guy and DS so he wouldn't be able to get a clear shot and then picked him up and moved.)

After that, my dad noticed that the guy was ONLY photographing little kids. He moved when he realized my dad was scoping him out. Then I saw him again and I stared him down for awhile and he moved again. My dad went and found a cop and when the cops came down to the stage area, the guy high-tailed it out of there. The cops told my dad that they would just follow the creeper around until he left.

I really wanted to walk up to the guy and start talking cameras, then ask to see his, check some pictures and take the memory card. I didn't, of course, but I still sort of wish that I had. I am still REALLY angry about it and feel like my privacy and my child's privacy have been violated.

Any experiences like this? What'd you do? What would you have done?

We left as soon as my sister was done.
post #2 of 63
Well... the guy may or may not have a child in the festival, he may or may not be working on an independent project, he may or may not be doing any one of a million innocent things, or he may not be innocent. I probably would have asked him NOT to take pics of my kid, but then again im bold and mouthy like that. I wouldnt take his memory card, that would be theft and I dont have time for problems like that, i dont have time to engage him in conversation etc, just a polite, 'please dont photo my kid' thanks.
post #3 of 63
I think you did everything you could. You listened to your gut that something was off. You distanced yourself and then left ASAP. You reported suspicious behavior to the police.

The man was not breaking any laws photographing people performing in public (or playing in public). Yes, he may have been creepy, but he was not breaking any laws.
post #4 of 63
It doesn't bother me when people take pictures of my DD. I read here that a lot of parents are bothered, and I wonder why?

Anyway, wearing dirty torn clothing and smoking a cigarette, that could be my DH, lol. He doesn't pay a whole lot of attention to appearances. He's a really nice person, though.
post #5 of 63
I wouldn't have been bothered by it other than not liking pictures taken of me. I would have avoided the man but I wouldn't have involved the police.
post #6 of 63
Thread Starter 
He wasn't with anyone there, everyone convened to talk about it. He was very very weird. It wasn't that he was dirty necessarily, or the smoking (I mean, I smoked for years before DS) but the fact that he was acting creepy and was literally FILTHY. He was too close to the kids but always away from the adults, he was using a telephoto from only 10 feet away from the stage. Anytime someone made eye-contact with him when he would disappear for a bit into the crowd and then show back up. When the cops came down, you should have seen him... he took one look and them and walked as fast as he could without running and disappeared into a sea of people.

I realize that there's nothing that I could have done... I understand that it wasn't illegal... what I'm saying is that I feel so vulnerable now. He has pictures of MY CHILD and who knows why he wanted them.

I'm not a conspiracy theorist and I don't think the worst of people so something has to be overtly wrong to raise my heckles and this was really wrong. Every other parent there was alarmed and many left as a result.
post #7 of 63
I would've been creeped out too, and like the idea of politely but firmly asking him to not take pictures of your child.
post #8 of 63
My thoughts are always this: if a pedophile is going to take pictures of a child, chances are high no one would ever notice. Because that man would be there to blend in, and be unnoticed.

So, to me, a man that looks like he's suspiciously taking photos ... he's probably innocent.

It's just a theory of mine. I mean, if I were a creepy person (not that I am), then that would be the way I'd go - blend in completely so that no one would notice me taking photos of little kids. The LAST thing I'd want to do is stand out and get caught.
post #9 of 63
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sailor View Post
My thoughts are always this: if a pedophile is going to take pictures of a child, chances are high no one would ever notice. Because that man would be there to blend in, and be unnoticed.

So, to me, a man that looks like he's suspiciously taking photos ... he's probably innocent.

It's just a theory of mine. I mean, if I were a creepy person (not that I am), then that would be the way I'd go - blend in completely so that no one would notice me taking photos of little kids. The LAST thing I'd want to do is stand out and get caught.
This is somewhat comforting. Thank you! I am so shaken by the situation... I've never yet felt that mama-bear instinct as strongly as I did today.
post #10 of 63
Just to voice a dissenting opinion... if your mama-bear instinct was firing up, listen to it. I'd rather overreact and be wrong 99% of the time than risk underreacting the 1% of the time that really counts. There was a creepy guy here (near Seattle) who used to go to public festivals where he believed kids would be. He would photograph them and post the pictures to his website. He moved to CA a while back, and I know he's met with resistance in a few different areas, but since he's not technically breaking the law, there isn't a whole lot anyone can do about it. I have no idea where he might be now. But you'd better believe I'd be holding my DD's hand and not letting her out of my sight if I thought for a second that someone like that guy was photographing her. (And I'm a professional photog who sometimes brings a big camera to events... but I don't aim it at anyone except my own child unless I've been hired to do so! )
post #11 of 63
wow that is very creepy.
post #12 of 63
Thank you for being so proactive and making sure the police knew. I, too, believe that your spidey senses were telling you something true. I once called the police on someone who we walked past when going home. He was standing across the street from a school with a huge telephoto lens, taking photos of a PE class that was in a field playing soccer. He was very far away from that class, so he definitely didn't seem legit, ya know? The police thanked me and assured me they would check it out. I told them that I felt silly calling, but they said no, it was a good thing.
post #13 of 63
I would have marched right up to him and started taking pictures of him with my own camera, following him to his car, and taking a pic of his car's license plate!
post #14 of 63
I would feel creeped out too.. and more than a bit irritated

Unfortunetely though, like another pp mentioned, it isn't illegal to snap photos in public. There was a guy at a water fountain taking pictures of all of the kids once (in there swimsuits) that freaked us out. We made our girls come over, wrap up in towels and have a snack until he wandered off.. I think he noticed all of the parents glaring at him, and felt intimidated enough to leave.

All in all, even though it's weird, there are no laws against this sort of thing. There was a guy in Portland (where we just moved from) who actually had a website with ratings of the photographed kids he displayed The police were involved, but had nothing on him. He was free to be perverted- which he was very open about. I stopped taking my kids to the parks and fountains for a while until we found places that he didn't frequent (via websites).

It's sad, and lame, but freaks are out there.. and the law is on their side as long as there aren't 'victims'
post #15 of 63
It amazes me how people on this message board are always so quick to dismiss a person's intuitive feelings or write off a creepy situation as "no big deal". The OP was right to be concerned and suspicious. It seems that if the guy had pure motives then he would NOT have ran away EVERY time he noticed someone watching him. That alone says a lot.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AbbieB View Post
The man was not breaking any laws photographing people performing in public (or playing in public). Yes, he may have been creepy, but he was not breaking any laws.
The OP clearly said that the guy was taking pictures ONLY of little kids around them - NOT the kids in the performance.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BellinghamCrunchie View Post
It doesn't bother me when people take pictures of my DD. I read here that a lot of parents are bothered, and I wonder why?
A strange, suspicious acting guy is taking pictures of her kid without her permission. And then when she attempts to approach him he takes off along with pictures of her son. And this is something that should not bother her? He has no business taking pictures of her son without her knowledge and permission. She does not know that person, yet she is supposed to be comfortable with him being in possession of pictures of her son? That is creepy.


Quote:
Originally Posted by BellinghamCrunchie View Post
Anyway, wearing dirty torn clothing and smoking a cigarette, that could be my DH, lol. He doesn't pay a whole lot of attention to appearances. He's a really nice person, though.
So you're husband has the same type of appearance. Okay. Would your husband also be at an event by himself taking pictures ONLY of little kids and running away from anyone who tries to approach him?

It is not just the guy's clothes. It is not just about him taking pictures. It is ALL of those things taken into account along with his suspicious actions and how he did not want to be approached.
post #16 of 63
It would have creeped me out too...

And I say this as the wife who handed my husband our HUGE digital cannon with a 400mm telephoto as he sat on the bench on the school playground..and took our youngest to the bathroom.

He typically works all day... most everyone knows me... but to see the shaved head of a 6-3" with a bunch of young kiddos...who they do not recognize.

He was pissed.. laughing pissed.. but pissed all the same for putting him in that position.
post #17 of 63
OP i am really glad you acted on your instinct. its a trait i totally encourage in my dd. she picks up wierd vibes totally.

however i am totally with sailor on this. no pedofile would ever appear so inconspicuous. he probably was an oddball who has been probably hounded by the police. who probably enjoys taking pictures of young children as an art form. and of course not fiting in the norm makes him stick out even more. i would imagine he has some sort of social issue that he is not able to take care of personal hygiene.

however if i was in your shoes and i felt that creeped out, i would absolutely do what you did.

the thing is - both my dd and i are good at picking up 'creepiness'. we dont let their appearance fool us. sometimes we have been creeped out by suave well dressed men, or by ordinary people who dont stick out - yet something is there. the reason i listen to those instincts is coz we live in a high pedofile area. their transitional housing is just 8 blocks from where we are. yet not once has a person like that creeped us out. anyone like that here has been mainly suffering from mental illness.

the point i am trying to make here is that - sometimes our instincts can be wrong. sometimes our instincts rise out of our fear and we have to be careful about that. it shows our prejudice. i realise for myself how prejudiced i really am. so i am really careful to make sure i am acting out of my true gut feelings and not fear.

we as women dont realise it, but esp. old men in this country dont have the freedom to enjoy children as we do. men in general. even just passing a comment gets dirty looks.
post #18 of 63
Personally I wouldn't have a problem with someone just taking pictures in public, much preferable for that than a creep to pull it out right there, but the rest is what sounds odd. Such as him running off when someone would make eye-contact. His behavior sounds odd enough without the camera.

If your spidey-senses were tingling, it was probably with good reason. If he looked legit and wasn't fidgety and taking pictures, you might not have felt the same way. But even without the camera, this guy sounds creepy.
post #19 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by meemee View Post

however i am totally with sailor on this. no pedofile would ever appear so inconspicuous. he probably was an oddball who has been probably hounded by the police. who probably enjoys taking pictures of young children as an art form. and of course not fiting in the norm makes him stick out even more. i would imagine he has some sort of social issue that he is not able to take care of personal hygiene.

.
No pedophile would ever???? That's a very very generalized statement. Have you done a case study of every pedophile ever? I'm sure there've been plenty who have been inconspicuous, even if it's not the norm. Honestly, it seems more unlikely that he just has some social issue and likes to take photos of children as an art form than that he's a pedophile.
post #20 of 63
Having worked for a few newspapers, I've seen many newspaper photographers who match that description. I wouldn't assume he wasn't taking photos for a newspaper.

However, if he were, he'd be wanting names of the kids whose pictures he took for the newspaper.
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