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Creeped out and angry - Page 3

post #41 of 63
Originally Posted by possum View Post
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.

Way over the top? I'd rather be wrong then allow some pedofile to take pictures of kids. How do you think most pedos start out anyway? Many begin with smaller things such as pictures and exposing themselves and then escalate their behavior.

She was listening to her gut, that's the most important thing here

Originally Posted by mysticmomma View Post
you could check your local zip codes on the registered sex offenders site and see if you recognize him.
Good idea, but just remember that those are the ones who have been caught and convicted. There are so many more who are unregistered
post #42 of 63
Originally Posted by tinyactsofcharity View Post
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.
Omg, $9,000 that is so scary! That's a ton of $$$ and he must be really into his "hobby"

It makes me sick that people can act like this and it's just fine because they didn't "do anything][/QUOTE]

Me too, it's incredibly belittling to give a possible pedo the benefit of the doubt and not a mama who was listening to her gut Come on people!
post #43 of 63
I think getting the cops instead of theft was the right thing to do since you suspected him of illegal stuff. My mom talked to a city official this summer who noticed that a lot of people who are registered sex offenders were hanging out around the parks where kids were getting free lunch. I don't think it is a far stretch to think that they may also be going to schools and other public events where children are and stalking kids. The police should be dealing with child safety issues like this. Some sex offenders scope out kids before attacking. He could have been waiting to get one off on their own if this was a crowded event where that was possible. It is hard to know so it was right to follow your instincts and get the police involved.

I have just been reading a book called The Glass Castle (very good book) and the parents and kids in that book fit this description also so I don't know that he was necessarily doing icky stuff, but it sounds likely since he left when the cops started after him.
post #44 of 63
to the PP who said there are not many pedophiles or just pervs in general. I would agree if you live in a rural area. However we live in a town that has maybe 7,000 people in it and I looked up on our state registry how many sex offenders lived in this single town. Over 50 level 2 and 3 sex offenders. They also show where each lives and what they were convicted of and when. There were Level 3 offenders within a 3 block radius of our apartment. We do not live in a "bad" neighborhood either.

I generally am not bothered by a lone person who may be acting peciluar but I don't think there is anything wrong with being aware of your surroundings and alert. I am not fearful but I would certainly be bothered by any stranger taking pictures of my child if they weren't from a newspaper or my LO wasn't in some kind of performance or event. Why does this person need my LO's picture, the bottom line is there is no reason good enough for me to be ok with it. Harmless or not they can just move right along to someone who doesn't care if they are photographed. This ofcourse does not refer to other parents at a soccer game or something snapping photos in general. It is all about the context in which a picture is being taken IMO.
post #45 of 63
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.
There are lots of reasons? I can't think of any. Your example was touching, but I doubt that is a common occurance.

The only other things I can come up with are:
- Taking a photo of one's own child who is surrounded by other children, but that would be obvious because the focus would remain on one child.
- Taking a broad photo of an area, playground, park that happens to have children in it
- Working on a project/assignment that involves children. But I would hope that if this were the case, the photographer would know to ask permission from parents first.

If he were a reasonable, harmless person doing any of those things - why would he run off and avoid eye contact? It would seem to me, a harmless person would notice others' discomfort and put them at ease ("Hi there. I'm taking photos for XYZ...")
post #46 of 63
to the Op, I know exactly how you feel. We had a similar experience last year:

post #47 of 63
Originally Posted by BellinghamCrunchie View Post
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.
Your story aside, I really cannot think of too many legitimate reasons why an adult would take pictures of kids at public events unless he has permission from all parents.

As far as acceptance and diversity... Well I think you are really stretching the original topic though I do recognize your good intentions. Many of us are tolerant, diverse, and compassionate, yet are still able to respond appropriately to our internal antennae. I think the OP described the guy the way she did NOT because she was intolerant but to give a complete picture (pardon the pun) of the situation. I understand you wanting to relate this to the mentally ill population but honestly, I think that's a whole other chapter.

You are certainly entitled to your opinion but the facts are that pedophilia ia alive and flourishing and the internet has created an entire new base from which they can operate from. This does NOT mean to live in fear but to live smart! Yes there ARE many dangerous people out there and the stats show it. IIRC, it's like 1 in 3 women will be molested at some point in their lifetime, that is huge. We NEED to protect our kids.

So does that mean we walk around cowering if anyone so much as glnaces at us? NO. But if something, someone, does not belong, out of character, refuses discussion, AND is behaving suspiciously I think it needs to be taken under consideration.
post #48 of 63
I agree about being wary and trusting one's instincts, in addition to putting together all the clues you can in a given situation. In this situation I would also have been creeped out.

I also think that instincts cross borders and cultures, and that we need to remain calm but alert, acting on our fears when appropriate. The op and her dh did just fine in this case, IMO. I live in Europe and one of the reasons I enjoy living here is that the general level of over-the-top panic about crime is much less. (The actual crime rates in our town are very low, too.) The nightly news doesn't give you the impression that there's a child stalker around every corner. Kids (fourth grade and older) walk to school by themselves and don't live in constant fear.

Regardless of all this, my dds and I had a similar experience a couple of months ago. We were on vacation in a town that we go to every summer in Germany. (I speak German well but my kids only know a few words.) This town is not very large; it's a small urban center in a very rural part of Bavaria. (What this means in practical terms is that any foreign immigrants to the area will be in town, not out in the farm villages.) On this particular day we went looking for a big playground some German friends of ours had recommended to us.

I was alone, obviously pregnant, with my two girls, because my dh went book shopping while we went to the park. It was a nice, sunny, day, but there weren't many kids around because their schools were still in session. The playground had lots of trees and hedges separating one part from another, so you couldn't see very far in any direction. We found an area with a massive climbing apparatus (ropes and platforms) and both girls (wearing dresses) jumped on and starting climbing with glee. I sat on a nearby bench.

After a few moments I noticed a man standing behind a tree near my bench. He was standing so that I couldn't actually see him without moving, but when I did, I noticed he was taking pictures of the play area with a digital camera. Immediately I asked, in German, politely, "What are you doing?" He stammered, blushed, and answered in very broken German. (I could already tell he was a foreigner by his appearance, but I never assume anything based on that.) We had a conversation in which I became increasingly aggressive and he increasingly nervous (he was completely unable to give me any answer about why he was there or what he was doing taking pictures). I took out my cell phone and he immediately left.

In the meantime the kids had noticed him and they didn't like him, either. Once he left I figured we were all right, but strangely enough another foreign man came up about 5 minutes later and sat right down on my bench (there were several he could have chosen) and said "hello," again in heavily accented German. I said hello and waited. He just sat there (watching the kids playing). By this time another mother and her children had arrived and were sitting on the other side of the play area, so I felt more relaxed. But my kids started feeling creeped out and wanted to leave, so we did. (This is unusual for them; we don't watch TV and I don't scare them with abduction stories.)

At that point he got up and followed us along a parallel path so that trees blocked our view of him but we knew he was there. This was very freaky and I got out my phone again. I instructed the kids to hold my hands and to walk with me wherever I went, and not to point out our car if I decided to walk past it instead of get into it. We went to the parking lot and he was still watching, now with his phone out talking to someone else. I could barely see a guy at the end of the lot, who I think was the first man, also talking on his phone. I was planning a way for us to get into our car quickly when my dh arrived, having finished his shopping. The two men melted away instantly, and we got in the car with great relief and left immediately.

This whole episode was so strange that dh and I tried to make sense of it, and we couldn't really come up with any innocent explanation (although dh wanted to believe that I was overreacting). Later I was sorry I hadn't actually called the police, simply because I don't want those guys loitering out there waiting for more prey.

So I disagree with posters that say it's overreacting to call the police. If they interview a few innocent people but also catch someone whose motivations are not so benign, it's worth it, isn't it? And wasn't it right for me to trust my children's (and my own) instincts and act to protect them, rather than tell them to just shrug it off?
post #49 of 63
I probably would have been a little creeped out by it and have done similar to what you did. It may or may not have been innocent. Kinda odd though how he took off when cops came around...
post #50 of 63
Yikes - way creepy. And it doesn't matter if he is a pedo, or mentally ill, or an artist, or whatever. He made you uncomfortable and had no business being there. Anyone who would be innocently photographing children would walk right up to the folks giving them the side-eye and would say "Hi, I am blah blah blah, and I am taking picutres for blah-blah-blah" or would address the police when they showed up to explain what they were doing.

You did the right thing.
post #51 of 63
Sound creepy to me and the fact that he hightailed it as soon as the cops started watching him really confirms your gut feeling. I don't think there is anything else you really could have done as you protected your family and notified authorities, so don't feel like you should have done more.
post #52 of 63
Originally Posted by TatianaTiger View Post
it's incredibly belittling to give a possible pedo the benefit of the doubt and not a mama who was listening to her gut Come on people!
post #53 of 63

I had the same type of thing happen

and acted the same way.

I was in a crowded kid part of the aquarium and I spotted this lone guy taking pictures of my daughter. I gathered up our stuff while glaring at him and checking to see if he was with anyone and he gathered up his stuff and I followed him hoping to see an aquarium employee to report him, but it was so crowded that I lost him. He walked away very fast.
post #54 of 63
Originally Posted by TatianaTiger View Post
it's incredibly belittling to give a possible pedo the benefit of the doubt and not a mama who was listening to her gut Come on people!
Seriously! Sometimes the responses on this board to incidents like this are crazy... its all "there really aren't many bad people out there" and "we wouldn't want to hurt anyone's feelings." Well, it is my job to protect my babies, not to advocate for adults who choose to behave in a suspect manner around defenseless children, make others uncomfortable, and flee the presence of the authorities.

I read one estimate that between 1 and 5% of our population molest children... also, that in 1991, 2/3 of offenders jailed for sexual offenses had committed their crimes against a child.


Good job, OP, for acting on your insticts.
post #55 of 63
Ok, but realistically, if I were a pedophile (which I'm not!), and if I had $9,000 worth of camera equipment in order to take photos for my illegal online website, WHY would I make myself as conspicuous as possible? Why would I draw attention to myself by running or by clothing that doesn't look appropriate?

If I were a pedophile, running an illegal website, I would 1. behave normally, 2. dress nicely, 3. say I was working for a newspaper and talk to the parents, 4. if I had any nieces/nephews borrow them for the day so that I could look even more normal.

I always get creeped out by people like the above - who seem to be there for a reason, but really are probably closet sex offenders. Whereas, the people who look like weirdos, in my experience, usually turn out harmless.

I also am not a big believer in intuition on such things - my intuition about people like this has almost always been wrong. When I was 14, I was in a supermarket and some elderly man grabbed my butt. I immediately thought "total weirdo" ... turns out he was having an asthma attack and was trying to keep from falling and I happened to be in front of him. I even suspected him of faking the attack ... until the ambulance came by.

Btw - I'm totally not worried about hurting people's feelings. I come from a culture where people leave their strollers (with their babies in them) outside while inside shopping at a store. After living in America for years, I have learned to trust no one. The level of fear in this country has totally gotten to me in this respect. Now, every adult is suspect until proven innocent to me. So ... I don't condemn or blame the OP for doing what she did! I find it perfectly normal. I doubt my dp and I will ever let anyone outside of our parent's babysit our child. I get it - I really do.

But, statistically speaking, it's the ones that you don't suspect that are most worrisome. Not the ones who stand out. If you're doing something wrong, you don't want to stand out.
post #56 of 63
I did not allow strangers to photograph my littles. I always blocked a photographer's view or demanded to know "what they are shooting for". I think it is out of line to take pictures of other folks' children without express permission. I would have been livid.
post #57 of 63
Originally Posted by lovemybubus View Post
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.
One of my college photography professor taught her students to do this. She felt that taking photographs candidly was the best way to capture people at their most natural. If the person knew they were being photographed, they would become self conscious.

Originally Posted by l_olive View Post
Hundreds of families I don't know have my several pics of my son in his school yearbook.
One of DS's major goals in life seems to be to be included in every family photo album. When ever he see a group of kids posing for their parents, he insists on joining in.
post #58 of 63
Originally Posted by Sailor View Post

But, statistically speaking, it's the ones that you don't suspect that are most worrisome. Not the ones who stand out. If you're doing something wrong, you don't want to stand out.
Are there studies showing that most pedophiles have a "normal" appearance? I am unaware.

Personally, regardless of any book or lab study that says otherwise, I firmly believe that we have instincts for a reason. I always follow mine - always. I think the OP reacted appropriately.

Then again, I assume all the children in the park were clothed, and if a person is going to get their jollies from a picture of a clothed child simply being a child, what can you do? Stop the photographing once you realize it is occurring, and rest in the knowledge that most people who see the photo of your clothed, playing child will not have a sexual response.
post #59 of 63
Just my couple of pennies...first off - it is totally creepy and I'm sure it's hard to relate exactly how creepy it felt at the time. Second - I've been a pro writer and photographer for many years for newspapers, freelance, etc. and it is standard operating procedure to ASK PERMISSION to photograph anyone - especially children. If you photograph first, you let someone know and have them either sign a release or at least get their name (like for a paper). So, the fact that he was photographing and then running off means (to me) he was up to something...
post #60 of 63
maybe he was a skeezy private investigator or some sorts. I have met several and some of them look like they are right out of the homeless shelter- but the tote around thousands worth of equiptment.

He could have also been a very non professional photographer for a magazine or newspaper....our local photographer who came to everything in our small town dressed HORRIBLY and chain smokes, but we all knew him so he didn't feel dangerous. I would understand a stranger being afraid of him though.

I'm glad you followed your gut but from experience in studying sexual devience after police academy and through some courses after I became a CPS worker...he does not fit the M.O of a pedophile. But that's not to say that he wasn't.
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