My mother lives in a sort of rural/suburban area, lots of acreage blocks, friendly neighbours, quite a community feel about the place. And yesterday, she witnessed something that really disturbed her. Made her blood run cold actually. There's a family in the area that are a bit infamous for letting their 4 young children play on their ride-on lawnmower, sometimes with the mower blades engaged, actually mowing the lawn, sometimes with them not engaged, just tooling around the house block (and the street!!). Okay, not my cup of tea, but it's obviously their decision to let them, no good letting the villagers and their pitchforks go forth just yet.
But yesterday, while the boy, probably around 8, was driving (read:hooning) around on the lawnmower, completely unsupervised, his young sister, maybe 3 or 4 was HANGING OFF THE FRONT OF IT BY HER HANDS, UPSET AND SCREAMING TO GET OFF. Mower blades engaged or not, had her hands slipped, the is no doubt she would have been run over. 4 or 5 young girls riding their horses past had stopped and were staring in confusion and shock. It wasn't til a car driving past stopped and beeped their horn, yelling for the boy to stop, that the boy did in fact stop, and let his terrified sister off.
While this incident was bad enough, others in the neighbourhood have noticed the same boy chasing his sister down the road, her on her bike, wobbly as hell after just having her training wheels removed, him not even looking as he chased her down on the mower, more concerned with yelling at his other brother.
The young girl has also been spotted riding her scooter down the middle of the road (steep hill and all), no adult or sibling in sight, about 200 metres from her home. This is a pretty isolated area, and apart from being smeared all over the road by one of the hoons who careen around the area, God knows what else could have happened to her: snakebite, abduction, indoctrination into the Liberal party...
Now, my immediate urge after hearing about this was to go visit this family, kick in the door, and bash the parents heads together until they saw fit to actually do something towards increasing their children's life expectancy, instead of apparently actively encouraging Darwinian theory.
Generally, I believe that the safety of all children is the business of everyone. It takes a village and all that. What's that quote? It is a greater sin to witness evil (or child endangerment) and do nothing, than do to the evil (or the endangering).
But when my Mum asked for advice as to whether she should say something to this family or not, I wavered. What would it actually achieve? A word from her, and they change their whole parenting style? She has to live in this neighbourhood, what if it started some sort of feudal retribution? Ths is my Mum, my sweet beautiful Mum, who is lovely and nuturing and caring and what if this dipshit parent starts screaming at her? Maybe I should go with her? Maybe we should send an anonymous letter? Call DOCS? Call Today Tonight? Call Jerry Springer?
I really am torn - what would you do?