Despite having no children of my own (as yet), I find myself being particularly aware when young children are around in the wake of 2 year old Aliyah Johnson's brutal murder. Maybe it's just the male protective instinct in me, maybe it's because I've been affected by this child's death in a way I do not as yet perceive.
While selecting fruits at the fruit stall in St. James near Singer's today, said instincts were over active when I observed the manner in which the fruit vendor was dealing with her daughter (or should I say not dealing with her daughter) who could be no more than 7 years old. The peculiar thing is it was not even an out right observation, and I was not particularly thinking about baby Aliyah at that point in time, but having read the various stories in the dailies this week my subconsciousness was some how perturb enough by this child's death to pay attention when children are around me.
So I'm there selecting my fruits while the vendor is speaking to one of her helpers and the little girl is desperately trying to get her mother's attention to tell her she is going to Singer's to come back. And she is there "mummy, mummy, mummy" and the mother and the help totally ignores her. "Mummy, mummy, excuse me, mummy, mummy". The mother continues to ignore her. She then grabs hold of her mother's hand, "mummy, mummy, mummy." The mother is still speaking to the help. Frustrated the child says, "I'm going to Singers and come back okay", and she proceeds to walk off, mother totally oblivious or not aware enough.
The mother does not even acknowledge her. Now imagine if I was a child molester, that child would have been a prime victim for me. Imagine this child attempted to engage her mother for close to two minutes without any success. As she walks off it is at this point I grab hold of the mother's shoulder (a little too roughly to be honest but I was agitated because of the situation I just observed), and as she looks at me totally shocked I say to her in a stern but friendly voice, "You need to pay attention to where your daughter is going, she has been trying to get your attention for the longest while and you have been ignoring her. Just remember one minute she will be here and the next minute she may not."
With a noticeable expression of chagrin, she acknowledges my admonition but I can tell she was grateful for the little "pull up". Parents need to be more aware of their children's whereabouts, virtually their every move. As parents people need to give their children their undivided attention, yes it can be difficult doing this while working, having to pay bills and put food on the table, but make no mistake, a parent's failure in this regard creates a child molester's paradise.