As Ampersand notes, the culture of suspicion disproportionately affects men, which is what makes Peachey’s response, as tragic as it is, understandable. There’s a part of me that feels like he should have been considering the worst-case scenario for the child (which, unfortunately, came to pass) rather than his own worst-case scenario—being accused of attempted abduction. But most of me is wholly sympathetic to him, because I am aware of the hysteria that can build instantaneously around the remotest perception of endangering a child.The toddler wandered from her nursery school, Ready Teddy Go, through a door left open. A bricklayer named Clive Peachey drove past her in his truck. At the inquest, he stated, "I kept thinking I should go back. The reason I didn't was because I thought people might think I was trying to abduct her."There's no doubt that child molestation is a real problem, and increased awareness is a good thing. But as Abby's story horribly illustrates, societies in which adults don't feel free to approach or help strange children, are not child-safe.
Instead, he assured himself that the parents must be "driving around" and would find her.
A few minutes thereafter, Abby fatally fell into an algae-covered pond.
So, what do we do about this? How do we protect children from sexual predators, which (especially as we’ve seen the past few days) is a very real problem, while also protecting them from danger by returning to a place where an adult didn’t feel guilty just at the thought of approaching a strange child who appears in need? Any thoughts?