Simply talking to a strange child in public can lead to a police visit in Australia. An 80-year-old man was stopped by a plainclothes police officer and then visited at his home by two detectives — simply because he chatted with a boy at the supermarket.
The unidentified man stopped to speak kindly with a young boy and put his hand on the boy’s shoulder in September, the mom wrote in a now-public letter. That simple act – common in grocery stores across America – led to the mom reporting the elderly man. A policeman talked to the man in the parking lot.
A few days later, two police detectives appeared at the man’s home in Winmalee, New South Wales, to question him. The detectives showed up unannounced, even though they admitted that surveillance camera footage verified the man had done nothing wrong.
The letter was first discovered taped to the wall of a shopping center in Winmalee. It was written by the man’s daughter, who noted that older people “take joy” in talking to young people.
“I cannot express how much your action of alarm has struck at the confidence of an older man,” the letter states. “His expression of goodwill undone by an overly zealous parent, who did not have the courage to speak of their opinion directly to my father, or guide the child away, or to join in and add to the conversation.
“Instead, you covertly and unnecessarily inform authorities,” it continues. “About what, I do not know. We were all strangers once to others we now know — overcome through communication skills, learned and improved by conversing with an array of persons.
“And a closed, dysfunctional society is formed of reading too much into a situation, and acting on exaggerated thought and impulsive negative action, rather than that of a considered positive outlook.”
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