A few months ago, I was at a local park with my kids and a few of their friends, watching them climb, swing and bounce around, exploading with giggles and laughter.  In the distance, I heard a woman yelling at another and moved a little closer to investigate. An older woman in a scrub-style uniform, lounging on a park bench, was yelling at a hunched over brunette who was clinging to a swing, demanding her not to move.  The girl on the swing was quietly drawing her body together to appear as small as she could while sheepishly looking around on the ground below her. What I discovered was a caretaker yelling abusively at a very mentally handicapped teenage girl. My heart broke. I approached the caretaker and asked her if everything was ‘alright’. She told me to get lost and to mind my own business.  I told her that how she was treating this girl did not seem right, we went back in forth a little and yes, it was none of my business but I couldn’t just ignore what I was witnessing.  As I retreated back to my loving bubble, I told her that God was watching.

I couldn’t stop the internal replay about my experience at the park.  I realized that I knew nothing about the situation but after checking and rechecking myself, I felt confident this young girl was being mistreated.  Had I been her mother, who had hired this caretaker to look after my daughter with special needs, I’d be overwhelmed with pain and anger to know this interaction took place. Two days passed and I still couldn’t shake the mental chatter.  I decided to find a police officer to help ease my mind.  I drove around, trying to figure out how I was going to stop one and finally came upon a police car, pulled over at a traffic circle close to my house and that park. I rapped on his window, a little startled, he rolled it down and gave me a stern look.  I was feeling a little anxious and strange, not sure if I was doing the right thing at the moment, kind of how I felt at the park.  He listened to my fragmented story, straining over the constant traffic and let me know that I should have called the police right then and there. Any abuse or suspicion of abuse needs to be investigated. He assured me that, yes, it was my business, it was my obligation as a fellow person to at least make sure that someone who especially could not speak for herself, was protected.

Many may disagree with his statement and many may choose not to ‘get involved’ to avoid discomfort or for fear of being mistaken.  Especially as parents but even as friends, neighbors, children and siblings, when confronted with a suspicious situation, I think it’s better to experience a, ‘sorry, I misunderstood’ than live with the regret of not speaking up and potentially changing someone’s life for the better.