I mistook a dad in the parents room for a paedophile – and I have no regrets
An Australian mum recently took to Australian website Kidspot to reveal how she thought a dad in a public toilet was actually a predator and about to abuse a child.
"I mistook an ordinary dad for a paedophile last week… and I have many regrets but mistaking that dad for a monster is not one of them," she writes.
The mum then explains that she had been at a local shopping centre with her own two children when they needed to use the bathroom, and they headed for the family room.
"I don’t know what you’ve experienced with your own kids, but this parents' room was five stars," she writes.
"A small screen, no bigger than an iPad, was set up in the corner opposite chairs so if you needed to breastfeed, you can occupy older kids with cartoons on the small TV. There was a toilet behind a frosted fibreglass door and then one small room that looked like a clothing store’s change room, complete with curtain, where parents can get babies to sleep."
But then, she says, she noticed something that raised her alarm.
'My mind immediately went to the darkest place possible'
"A reed-thin, hairy leg was sticking out of the change room, and all I could hear behind the curtain was a very sinister whisper “Shhhh Shhh”. Just two of them. No more. I heard no baby’s cry and so, my mind immediately went to the darkest place possible."
The mum-of-two says she immediately concluded that the owner of the thin, hairy leg was 'obviously abusing a small kid in there' and threatening them with silence
She goes on to explain that the reason for her strong reaction was all the new stories lately of children being abused, and another story where a woman had taken to TikTok to reveal she was suffering from lifelong PTSD after being raped in a shopping centre toilet cubicle at age 13.
She also adds:
"Added to this are my triggers. Two of the people closest to me on this earth were sexually abused as children. So, yeah. I’m suspicious. So, sue me."
The mum the says she felt she needed to act.
"The “Shh Shh” did not sound comforting. It sounded threatening. There was no “It’s OK,” There was no humming. Disturbed beyond all reason, (obviously) I began batting at the curtain, “Everything all right in there?” I yelled."
Her daughter then asked her mum what she was doing, obviously finding the whole ordeal a little strange.
"She asked me “Mum? What are you doing?” “Oh I’m just checking to see if everything is OK!” I boomed back."
And then, the thin, hairy leg slipped away.
"Sick to my stomach, but feeling for my daughter’s obvious embarrassment, I walked out."
'Had I just let a monster get away with torturing a child?'
The mum explains that once outside the family room, she still felt sick, not knowing if she had just witnessed something really terrible, and that a child was being abused then and there.
But just then, a thin, hairy man cradling a newborn exited the room, and locking eyes with the mum, obviously realising she was the one who had disturbed him while changing his baby, gave her an angry look and left.
"I have no regrets," the mum writes.
"Yes, I know, what I did is more commonly known as “profiling” where you assume, based on a person’s gender or race that how they behave is indicative of the worst practices of people within their demographic. I know “not all men”. I know it was not my most informed decision."
"But, why didn’t he open the curtain and point to the baby? He sounded so panicked. Yes, I’ve been panicked before with a baby, I’ve at least combined a bit of light-hearted humming or lullaby in my repertoire. I’ve paced."
The mum then goes on to say that the man should have taken his baby home instead, and that she still has no regrets for thinking he was a child molester.
"So what I did wasn’t tops. But my only regret is not opening that curtain. But I will next time. Without hesitation."
"Ridiculous and sexist"
The comments to the mum's story did not take long to start flooding in.
And although some were saying the mum was right to react, the majority of people commenting were saying that she was being ridiculous and that who the heck did she think she was for assuming a father was abusing a child simply for bringing him or her to the changing room.
"This is the very reason so many fathers still feel awkward trying to bring their children into public toilets or changing rooms!" one person wrote.
Another one said:
"The sign said Family Changing Room - he had every right to be in there with his child, just as she had with hers."
What would YOU have done? Can you relate to the mum?