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post #21 of 63
Since your instincts alerted you that something was not right, I think you took most of the steps you could in the situation. In a non-performance situation, I think you can also tell someone that you don't want photos or film taken of you or your child. I don't think there's much more you can do though if it's a public performance.

If your instincts are only alerted by poor dress or messy hair or questionable hygiene, I suggest you reconsider. A lot of pedophiles blend into the crowd. They look like dads and friendly neighbours and teachers and scoutmasters - because they are. It's quite possible that one of the "nice-looking" guys taking photos that day was doing it for not-nice reasons.

Elsethread, someone recommended Gavin deBecker's book, Protecting the Gift, about protecting children and teaching them safety - in part by listening to instinct but also by being educated about identifying threats and risks and evaluating them. It's a good read. Instincts are useful, but they need to be informed.
post #22 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by SimonMom View Post
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.
Pedophiles are not known for their intelligience. There are many instances of peds that sit outside schools, just watching, quite conspicuously I might add. So the OP's scenario doesn't surprise me at all, they do all types of stupid things. They count on people questioning their senses about situations.

OP, you were probably dead on about that guy. I like one of the PP ideas about taking picturesd of HIM but I'm kind of bold like that. I think in a situation like that, a few parents could have approached him and just asked him what he was doing there. I think we should all take our gut feelings very seriously with stuff like this, the price is just way too high not too.
post #23 of 63

I have a similar situation

It was awful and just thinking about it terrifies me all over again. We were at the aviary in our city, my dh, ds and dd. We walked into an open area where the birds fly and walk around and I noticed a man with his camera. He was holding it in a way to be stealth (down by his knees) he was watching the kids. As soon as my dd walked up he was only watching her. This sent off red flags for me. He zoned in on her. He still had his camera (a small one) down by his knees, he was sitting on a bleacher type seat so this put the camera at a perfect level for my (at the time) 3yo dd. I went over to my dh and asked him if we could leave. We walked out of that area and the man followed us. I thought, "Am I imagining this?" Eventually I told my dh and he noticed it too. We were on our way out and the man was right behind us. Dh freaked at this point, walked up to him, and asked him albeit in a threatening tone what his problem was. The guy answered him with a very heavy accent that he "didn't have a problem." I was at the car loading the kids, this man still watching dramatically turns his back to us as if to say, "OK, I won't get your lic plate" We were pulled into the spot with the front of the car towards him. This sealed his fate (as far as we were concerned) dh called 911. They sent out an officer and dh demanded they go through his camera. They would not let dh near him (sensing his anger, I assume) and admitted that when they approached the man he was huddling in a corner "looking through his pictures" or more likely deleting photos. They said he spoke little English and they couldn't do anything to him for "just following" us. To this day I am still creeped out that he was going to get our lic plate number.
post #24 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by lovemybubus View Post
It was awful and just thinking about it terrifies me all over again. We were at the aviary in our city, my dh, ds and dd. We walked into an open area where the birds fly and walk around and I noticed a man with his camera. He was holding it in a way to be stealth (down by his knees) he was watching the kids. As soon as my dd walked up he was only watching her. This sent off red flags for me. He zoned in on her. He still had his camera (a small one) down by his knees, he was sitting on a bleacher type seat so this put the camera at a perfect level for my (at the time) 3yo dd. I went over to my dh and asked him if we could leave. We walked out of that area and the man followed us. I thought, "Am I imagining this?" Eventually I told my dh and he noticed it too. We were on our way out and the man was right behind us. Dh freaked at this point, walked up to him, and asked him albeit in a threatening tone what his problem was. The guy answered him with a very heavy accent that he "didn't have a problem." I was at the car loading the kids, this man still watching dramatically turns his back to us as if to say, "OK, I won't get your lic plate" We were pulled into the spot with the front of the car towards him. This sealed his fate (as far as we were concerned) dh called 911. They sent out an officer and dh demanded they go through his camera. They would not let dh near him (sensing his anger, I assume) and admitted that when they approached the man he was huddling in a corner "looking through his pictures" or more likely deleting photos. They said he spoke little English and they couldn't do anything to him for "just following" us. To this day I am still creeped out that he was going to get our lic plate number.
Wow, that's a really creepy story. I think you and the OP definitely did the right things. We should never ignore our instincts, even if they are wrong sometimes. As another PP said, better that you be right the 1% of the time it matters than to ignore your instincts.
post #25 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by Grylliade View Post
The OP clearly said that the guy was taking pictures ONLY of little kids around them - NOT the kids in the performance.
I know she did. I also know she was creeped out and frightened.

But truly, the only way anyone can know exactly what he was taking pictures of is by looking at his camera. I'm not saying the OP is lying... I'm saying that when you are scared, you tend to interpret events to fit in with the fear in your head.

When our new hispanic neighbors moved in a year ago, half the neighborhood was convinced they were terrorists planning to bomb the refineries about a mile from where we live. They had tons of proof and tons of "creepy feelings." After all, the people in the house were never seen, and the man only went out at night, and they were oh so quiet. Now, a year later, Jose and his family are included in block parties, and he makes the best margueritas.

The man two houses down is "creepy," according to the neighbors. He has no family and walks slowly. He pauses to watch the kids play and never says anything. He's always dirty, and he walks through the neighborhood every day. Oh, and he's only looking at the girls. The younger girls, according to the neighbors. I talked to him a bit, he has a stutter and is very shy, he works for a mechanic and is trying to fix up his car so that he can drive to work instead of walk each day. He seemed perfectly fine to me, maybe a little slow, but certainly not deserving of the neighbors' isolating and cruel opinions of him.

I work with people with mental illness. I can't tell you how much our folks are subject to the "creepy" feelings of others. 99% of the time those creepy, inaccurate feelings are painful to others. 99 people get hurt or run off or marginalized for every 1 you might be right about. I don't think that's okay.

There just aren't that many pedophiles, criminals, or dangerous people out there. There just aren't. And if, perchance, there was one taking pictures of my child, I would rather err on the side that my "creepy" feelings are more the result of my cultural immersion than hurt someone.
post #26 of 63
To the OP, that man would have looked suspicious to me also! It would have creeped out, especially the suspicious way he was not making eye contact and moving away. You'd think if he was a reporter or a newspaper photographer he would gladly say so and talk to people when he started getting strange looks.

On the other hand, I always remind myself that as long as someone taking random pictures doesn't know where my DD lives, her name, or any other personal info...they really can't do much harm with a picture of her fully clothed doing whatever. Even if they do something nasty with it, it most likely won't effect my DD in any way and we'll never know about it, you know? Of course I would prefer no man ever think nasty thoughts about me or my kids, or look at any pictures in dirty ways, but in the long run they are just thoughts or just images, if that makes sense.

Now if the same man was showing up all over the place, seen more than once lurking around, stalking, and taking pictures...that would be a cause for extreme concern in my mind because it shows a different level of personal obsession...
post #27 of 63
Bellingham Crunchy

I read The Gift of Fear, and I couldn't help thinking that the "always go with your gut and assume that someone who seems creepy to YOU is evil" advice was pretty flawed. A lot of the time the people who give others "creepy feelings" are probably just Other. Other race, other nationality, perhaps autistic or developmentally disabled. I felt the book gave a huge pass to -isms of all kinds. In fact it probably encourages them.
post #28 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by BellinghamCrunchie View Post
I work with people with mental illness. I can't tell you how much our folks are subject to the "creepy" feelings of others. 99% of the time those creepy, inaccurate feelings are painful to others. 99 people get hurt or run off or marginalized for every 1 you might be right about. I don't think that's okay.

There just aren't that many pedophiles, criminals, or dangerous people out there. There just aren't. And if, perchance, there was one taking pictures of my child, I would rather err on the side that my "creepy" feelings are more the result of my cultural immersion than hurt someone.
I understand what you're saying here. But I also believe you can err too far in the other direction and ignore instincts that should be listened to. And when it comes to my children, I'd rather be safe than sorry. Truly, my feelings on the issue have changed since I had kids--I put myself in many more marginal situations than I ever would when my kids are with me.

It's sad about your neighbors, but YOU personally didn't have any creepy feelings about them, correct? So it was right for you to not distance yourself. Presumably there have been some instances in your life when you felt better when you got away from a particular place or person, so you still trust your own instincts. Since none of us were at the scene where the OP was, I think it's best to believe that she interpreted the situation to the best of her ability.

Not to mention the fact that what the man did was disrespectful, if not actually illegal. There have been many times when I would have loved to take a picture of a stranger, but I just don't without permission. I don't think it's a polite thing to do. It's one thing to have strangers in the background of your photographs (people in public have to expect that), but for someone to take a photo with my child as the focus? Please, ASK first. If you can't summon that common courtesy, perhaps you shouldn't be taking photos in the first place.
post #29 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by noobmom View Post
It's sad about your neighbors, but YOU personally didn't have any creepy feelings about them, correct? So it was right for you to not distance yourself.
Part of what I want to say is precisely that our instincts can't be trusted. Our instincts will tell us that anyone who is different from us is creepy. Its just how the human brain works. And when you live in a culture that tends to isolate people who are different (e.g. institutionalization, self-contained classrooms, homeless shelters for the homeless, etc) we have even less exposure to diverse populations. Its only natural that we have creepy feelings about strange people.

I often have creepy feelings. I recently hired an employee with a bald head and a wandering eye. If I met him on the street, I would have been creeped out, probably, and then I would have tried to work through those feelings to see if there was any validity to them, rather than just trusting my initial instinct.

Her creepy feelings were not wrong. We all have them. What's wrong is assuming they have very much to say about the nature of another human being. There's been quite a bit of sociological research that demonstrates just how bad people are at guessing whether a person is trustworthy or not, or even if their smile is real or fake. We're terrible at it. Our instincts don't give us much to go on. I'll bet I wouldn't have been creeped out by Madoff, for example. I probably would have trusted him. I just saw a picture of Roman Polanski in the New York Times today, and I felt an attraction, not a creepy feeling. He looks kind of noble to me. His smile probably won over millions.
post #30 of 63
Whenever I feel uneasy about something, I try to figure out just exactly I'm afraid of? But I can't for the life of me see what there is to fear from a stranger taking a picture of my child playing in the park?

Hundreds of families I don't know have my several pics of my son in his school yearbook. His picture has been in the newspaper (he was playing in a water fountain at an outdoor concert). He was interviewed for our local news last year at the pumpkin patch. I have no more control of those images than I do of one snapped by a guy in a park.

If you suspect that the photographer was going to try to find out where you live to stalk you and your kids, that fear I understand. But the simple act of taking a picture in a public place, i just don't get.
post #31 of 63
I think you were right to listen to your instincts, definitely. If I were by myself with my kids, I wouldn't want to approach a man like that. I'd probably just take my kids and leave (or do what you did & tell an authority). If my DH was there, I might ask him to go talk to the guy as long as he didn't look dangerous. Maybe just to get a feeling for what he's doign like "Oh nice camera, do you have a kid here?". Chances are if the guy is up to no good he would be smart then & leave.

But I 100% agree that it is much better to listen to your gut... if you are wrong, then you risk offending an innocent adult. Oh well, they'll get over it. And if they are a reasonable person, they will understand that protecting your child is #1.
post #32 of 63
Quote:
Whenever I feel uneasy about something, I try to figure out just exactly I'm afraid of? But I can't for the life of me see what there is to fear from a stranger taking a picture of my child playing in the park?

Hundreds of families I don't know have my several pics of my son in his school yearbook. His picture has been in the newspaper (he was playing in a water fountain at an outdoor concert). He was interviewed for our local news last year at the pumpkin patch. I have no more control of those images than I do of one snapped by a guy in a park.

If you suspect that the photographer was going to try to find out where you live to stalk you and your kids, that fear I understand. But the simple act of taking a picture in a public place, i just don't get.
I see your point. But what reason would an adult HAVE to take pictures of random kids in a park? I would never take out my camera & photograph other kids. If I had a good reason to, I would ask their parents first or make sure everyone knew what I was doing. And it sounds like he wasn't taking general photos of the area, he was targetting specific children up close.
post #33 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by loraxc View Post
Bellingham Crunchy

I read The Gift of Fear, and I couldn't help thinking that the "always go with your gut and assume that someone who seems creepy to YOU is evil" advice was pretty flawed. A lot of the time the people who give others "creepy feelings" are probably just Other. Other race, other nationality, perhaps autistic or developmentally disabled. I felt the book gave a huge pass to -isms of all kinds. In fact it probably encourages them.
There is a difference, though, between a random stranger on the street who creeps you out where you can't put your finger on why, and a person where you can think about "what really bothers you about him/ her." If you are very in-tune with your instincts, you don't need to worry about offending a random stranger because he probably doesn't care what you think; and with someone you know, you are going to be aware of whether someone is tripping your radar because of some kind of "Other"-ness or because he or she is actually creepy.

I helped teach security classes to the children of diplomats who were going to be living in all kinds of different cultures. The "trust your instincts" advice still held. In fact de Becker's advice works much better for people who have as little prejudice as possible, because that helps to avoid too much clouded judgment.
post #34 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by meemee View Post
O 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.
I have to disagree with this statement. Not all criminals are particularly intelligent or careful, which is why some get caught quickly and some don't. His inconspicuous behavior doesn't guarantee him to be harmless.

Also, no matter how much he might enjoy taking pictures of young children as an art form, it would not be ok for him to take pictures of my young children, he should ask permission first. I would have likely reacted the same way that the OP did.
post #35 of 63
I think alerting the police was way over the top.
If someone feels she needs to get her kids out of a situation or even to ask someone not to take pictures of her own children because of icky feelings, then, by all means, she should follow her gut.
But alerting the police that a person was taking pictures of fully-clothed people at a public event? Really? That is just ridiculous. They're in public for heaven's sake. I'm with the other folks who don't get why people get so touchy about photos being made of them in public.
If you don't want anyone ever taking pictures of you or your family, then stay home.

Melinda
post #36 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by amandaleigh37 View Post
I see your point. But what reason would an adult HAVE to take pictures of random kids in a park? I would never take out my camera & photograph other kids. If I had a good reason to, I would ask their parents first or make sure everyone knew what I was doing. And it sounds like he wasn't taking general photos of the area, he was targetting specific children up close.
I work with a woman with schizophrenia, in particular with a persistent delusion (persistent delusions are a set of beliefs or hallucinatory sensory input that doesn't go away with anti-psychotic medication). Her son was taken away from her when he was born due to her illness (she probably wouldn't be capable of taking care of him without a great deal of support). She loves children and interacts wonderfully with my daughter. I bring Ellen to the shelter frequently so she can play with this woman, who is now in her 60's.

She is forever looking for her son. She goes to McDonald's, gets a small soda (she doesn't have much money) and sits for hours watching the children play in the tubes. Not only is she looking for her son (who would be in his 20s by now, but in her mind, she is convinced he is a little boy), her persistent delusion involves a famous person impregnating her with over 33 children over the years. So she is also not only looking for her "real" son, but 33 other lost children. She has found several of them, she claims. If you sit next to her and she knows you are a person she can trust, she'll point out the ones who are hers. She does not approach them, has no ill intent towards them at all, interacts appropriately if they approach her, but mostly just looks, and laughs when they do something funny, and says, "oh dear" when someone gets hurt. If she had a camera, I am quite sure she would want to take pictures of them.

There are lots of reasons why an adult would take pictures of children at public events which may or may not involve mental illness, and all of which are harmless. The point is, you just don't know, and statistically, you are way, way more likely to be correct if you assume harmless intentions.

I don't like being fearful. I don't want my children to feel fearful. There is a way to find a balance, I think. I believe western culture, American culture in particular, is pretty far out of balance. I believe intelligent, sensitive mamas like the ones on MDC are helping to shift our culture to one of more compassion, acceptance and celebration of diversity, and tolerance.
post #37 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by lolar2 View Post
There is a difference, though, between a random stranger on the street who creeps you out where you can't put your finger on why, and a person where you can think about "what really bothers you about him/ her." If you are very in-tune with your instincts, you don't need to worry about offending a random stranger because he probably doesn't care what you think; and with someone you know, you are going to be aware of whether someone is tripping your radar because of some kind of "Other"-ness or because he or she is actually creepy.

I helped teach security classes to the children of diplomats who were going to be living in all kinds of different cultures. The "trust your instincts" advice still held. In fact de Becker's advice works much better for people who have as little prejudice as possible, because that helps to avoid too much clouded judgment.
Thank you! Let's remember here that the man in OP's original post was not some dirty (in the literal sense) mentally ill homeless man minding his own business in a city park. He was out of place (he has money for a camera with a telephoto lens and no money for clean, unripped clothes?) and doing something that I think most of us would think is at least unusual. And he left when the police arrived. It wasn't the mere appearance of the man, it was his actions and demeanor that created a total picture. That's a lot of specifics, not just a general creepy feeling.
post #38 of 63
you could check your local zip codes on the registered sex offenders site and see if you recognize him.
post #39 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by BellinghamCrunchie View Post
I work with a woman with schizophrenia, in particular with a persistent delusion (persistent delusions are a set of beliefs or hallucinatory sensory input that doesn't go away with anti-psychotic medication). Her son was taken away from her when he was born due to her illness (she probably wouldn't be capable of taking care of him without a great deal of support). She loves children and interacts wonderfully with my daughter. I bring Ellen to the shelter frequently so she can play with this woman, who is now in her 60's.

She is forever looking for her son. She goes to McDonald's, gets a small soda (she doesn't have much money) and sits for hours watching the children play in the tubes. Not only is she looking for her son (who would be in his 20s by now, but in her mind, she is convinced he is a little boy), her persistent delusion involves a famous person impregnating her with over 33 children over the years. So she is also not only looking for her "real" son, but 33 other lost children. She has found several of them, she claims. If you sit next to her and she knows you are a person she can trust, she'll point out the ones who are hers. She does not approach them, has no ill intent towards them at all, interacts appropriately if they approach her, but mostly just looks, and laughs when they do something funny, and says, "oh dear" when someone gets hurt. If she had a camera, I am quite sure she would want to take pictures of them.

There are lots of reasons why an adult would take pictures of children at public events which may or may not involve mental illness, and all of which are harmless. The point is, you just don't know, and statistically, you are way, way more likely to be correct if you assume harmless intentions.

I don't like being fearful. I don't want my children to feel fearful. There is a way to find a balance, I think. I believe western culture, American culture in particular, is pretty far out of balance. I believe intelligent, sensitive mamas like the ones on MDC are helping to shift our culture to one of more compassion, acceptance and celebration of diversity, and tolerance.
This is a wonderful post.
post #40 of 63
Thread Starter 
I am the OP. I want to say first that I wasn't being trying to be insensitive when I said he was dirty. This was a fall harvest festival in the boonies. There were hundreds and hundreds of people there and they were overwhelmingly "country folk." We weren't dressed to the nines by any means. These types of festivals in the rural areas around here draw EVERYONE.

Also, my son and I go to a farmer's market that is near a homeless shelter that I volunteered at for many years. We encounter physically dirty but otherwise great people all the time. I am not dismissing him because of the way he looked but like another poster said, all the factors added up to a nonsensical and upsetting picture.

He also was NOT conspicuous. He'd been there photographing for over an HOUR (my father had noticed him the whole time... he's an intuitive and an observer) before the other parents started to pick up on him and the ONLY reason is that when my dad made eye contact, he moved so quickly and carelessly that he drew a few parent's attention.

It was really a bizarre experience and I sort of resent feeling like I'm being told that I was being mean to a poor person or something. I'm not wealthy or even middle class. I am a photographer and I know what the equipment costs. Even if he'd gotten it used, he was toting $9000 worth of camera. I can understand spending money on your art and not your appearance because we do that but this guy was really off.

Oh, and I don't think fear was coloring my feelings as I wasn't afraid until he ran off after eye-contact. I was just ignoring him and my dad's suspicions but when we got shifty, my guard went up quickly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ollyoxenfree View Post
Since your instincts alerted you that something was not right, I think you took most of the steps you could in the situation. In a non-performance situation, I think you can also tell someone that you don't want photos or film taken of you or your child. I don't think there's much more you can do though if it's a public performance.

If your instincts are only alerted by poor dress or messy hair or questionable hygiene, I suggest you reconsider. A lot of pedophiles blend into the crowd. They look like dads and friendly neighbours and teachers and scoutmasters - because they are. It's quite possible that one of the "nice-looking" guys taking photos that day was doing it for not-nice reasons.

Elsethread, someone recommended Gavin deBecker's book, Protecting the Gift, about protecting children and teaching them safety - in part by listening to instinct but also by being educated about identifying threats and risks and evaluating them. It's a good read. Instincts are useful, but they need to be informed.
Yeah, I just find it upsetting that the steps I took are all I could do and I'm still feeling creepy about all of it.

I know that pedophiles blend in. My mother's neighbor that looked totally nice, has 2 school-aged kids of his own, and was highly regarded in the community was recently sentenced after the best buy geek squad that was fixing his hard drive found a MASSIVE amount of kiddy porn. The guy had always creeped us out, for no specific reason, and we'd always steered clear.

I have read both of DeBecker's books. I think some of his theories are weird and off but some are right on. Anyway, this guys had Access, Cover, and Escape (ACE) to tons of kids. This place was CROWDED and LOUD (the music was super loud) and everyone was distracted by the festivities.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Grylliade View Post
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.

...

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.
Thank you

Quote:
Originally Posted by noobmom View Post
Thank you! Let's remember here that the man in OP's original post was not some dirty (in the literal sense) mentally ill homeless man minding his own business in a city park. He was out of place (he has money for a camera with a telephoto lens and no money for clean, unripped clothes?) and doing something that I think most of us would think is at least unusual. And he left when the police arrived. It wasn't the mere appearance of the man, it was his actions and demeanor that created a total picture. That's a lot of specifics, not just a general creepy feeling.

EXACTLY. That is it, spot-on.


Today, a day later, I'm still feeling really really ANGRY about this incident. It makes me sick that people can act like this and it's just fine because they didn't "do anything."
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