What would you do? (Young kid alone)

I live in a very middle class neighborhood in a relatively small town. 2000 sq ft houses on 0.2 acre lots, fences to keep the deer out, decent lawns, etc. Lots of mini-vans around, streets with speed limit of 25mph, etc. I think you get the idea.

I was driving down one of these quiet streets and just before I turned the corner I noticed a lady pushing a stroller in the opposite direction. The stroller looked to have an occupant, based on how hard she was pushing (it was uphill, she was really leaning into it, walking on her toes). She turned the corner and was heading the direction I was coming from. After I turned the corner she was no longer in view and about 200 yards down the road I see a young kid, probably no older then 2.5, standing against a telephone pole. I slowed down on the off chance he darted into the street and looked around for an adult. I didn’t see one. I looked for any signs of other kids around and found none. I pulled over about 50 yards beyond him and watched in my rear-view mirror for any signs of adults/older kids for the kid to rejoin. He dawdled there for about 30 seconds (could have been more, it was hard to tell) and I saw him take off away from me. I noticed one of the houses he was approaching had an open garage door and I hoped he would head into the open garage, but no luck. He ran past it. He looked very much alone to me.

What would you do at that point?

My answer:

I was getting ready to turn around and follow him at a distance. I would not have approached the kid but I figured I needed to at least keep an eye on him. Just as I was about to start my turn I noticed the lady with the stroller appear around the corner again and gesture to the kid. He looked like he responded so I just went on my way.

I’d bet you happened upon the middle of a “fine, you can have a tantrum, but I’m walking away” scenario. Your solution wasn’t bad (but his mom wasn’t going to actually leave him there).

You might ask the lady with the stroller if she knew him. In the not too distant past you could go to the kid and ask if he was lost–but now most people would describe that behavior as probable child molester and immediately call the cops.

Unfortunately, these quotes are an acurate description of modern society. . And it’s very,very sad.

One possibility:
Could you still act like a normal decent human being and approach the child, but call 911 first?
Noitfy them that there is a child in a potentially dangerous situation near traffic, and tell them that you are on the spot and intend to help. Or would acting like a good Samaritan still ruin your life and get you listed on the sex offender registry?

I wouldn’t want to call 911 first - if it truly is an innocuous moment, I’d rather not set the police on the mummy or blow what might be a small mistake by mummy out of all proportion.

It’s hard to imagine that if you took out your cell phone and called 911 as you approached the kid and said you would stay on the line watch him and make sure he didn’t run into the street, etc. until the police arrived that you would get into any trouble.

The only experience I have at all similar was when I was at a gas station/mini store. A woman pulled up to the front door and left the car running with a small child about 2-3 in a car seat in the back. The window was open and I talked to the child for about five minutes.

When the mother, I presume, came back out she was indignant and asked me “What are you doing?” I looked at her and said, “I hope I’m scaring the hell out of you. I could have been miles away with your child and car before you noticed.”

It’s so strange to read this because something similar happened to me today. I’d come home for lunch and was getting in my car to go back to work when I noticed a little girl (maybe 6 or 7, I’m not good with ages) walking in front of my house. I looked around for anyone else and she was alone. I assumed she was walking home from school. The thing is, it was 20 degrees and she was only wearing pants and a long-sleeved top. I waited in the car, watching for her to pass my driveway (thinking she lived on my street) but didn’t see her. I got out and saw her walking back the other way around the corner. She was walking very slowly, seemingly oblivious to her surroundings but didn’t appear lost or scared. I sat in my car trying to decide if I should talk to her. Finally I drove around the corner to see her turning onto a side street. I hope she lived on that street because I decided not to stop. I just didn’t know what I could or should do. Mainly I was concerned that she wasn’t properly dressed for this weather. I hope her home situation is alright.

Instead of dialing 911 for something like that, you could look for a non-emergency phone number of the local police. Call and discuss the situation too. I would be on the side of caution instead of simply assuming a scenario that you have no knowledge of one way or another.

Yep. I’d have kept an eye on the kid, seen the parent/guardian approach, and left. Not sure what the is to discuss here.

I didn’t have a cell phone on my so I couldn’t call 911.

I wasn’t sure if the lady with the stroller I had passed was with the kid or not. The fact she had turned a corner and left the kid out of eyesight made me seriously wonder. I understand the concept of letting a kid have a temper tantrum and I’ve walked away from my kids when they’ve done such things, but I’d never walk away from a 2.5 year old on the sidewalk where I couldn’t grab them before they walked out in front of a car, let alone let them get out of eyesight.

I was just curious if I was being a paranoid parent seeing a kid left alone like that or if I was over reacting by deciding to follow the kid. I could have tried to track down the lady in the stroller, but then I would have been letting the kid get out of eyesight.

It was all a big non-event to be sure. On the flip side, I don’t think it is all that crazy to think a kid might have managed to slip out of his house without being noticed and was just wandering the neighborhood. I wanted to be sure this little guy wasn’t one of those.