An interesting event was recently captured on camera in Philadelphia. In the video, we see two parents standing in line at a Dunkin’ Donuts, their small child strapped into a stroller to the right of them. From the left of the camera we see a gentleman stand from where he had been sitting at a table, move very close to, and then initiate contact with the child in the stroller. The Mother engages the individual verbally, while removing his hands from the child/establishing positive physical control over the stroller. As the individual starts to stand upright the Father pushes him further away while engaging him verbally. No punches are thrown, no weapons are drawn, and while the video is currently going viral, the parents didn’t even think enough of it at the time to file a police report.
The news, and many people online, are calling it an attempted abduction. I believe, based on several factors such as the individual’s pattern of movement as well as their reaction to being confronted, that it’s much more likely that what we’re seeing is an individual that is somehow impaired, inappropriately encroaching on the child’s space for a reason that I’m sure makes perfect sense to a person dealing with whatever issues that person has. Is the type of person we see in the video POTENTIALLY dangerous? Of course they are. Should we just allow an unknown individual acting erratically unfettered access to a child that we’re responsible for? Absolutely not. However, comma, our emotional attachment to our children/loved ones/whomever DOES NOT give us the right to response with an INAPPROPRIATE level of force if we are dealing with a potential threat/actual threat to us/them.
Many of the people commenting after viewing this video on my friend, Paul Sharp’s, personal timeline were expressing the opinion that had it been them, they’d have used a greater level of force than the family in the video demonstrated. Whether that force took the form of physical strikes, some for of stabbing/cutting, or gunfire. Here’s the thing, the family in the video demonstrated a PERFECT response, once they initiated it. Both parents worked in conjunction, the child was uninjured, the parents were uninjured, even the “attacker” was uninjured. Additionally, the family was able to go about their day with a minimum amount of delay, and there were no negative repercussion on a social or legal level. Despite a course of action that led to what can only be deemed as the most desirable outcome possible short of it never having happened in the first place, people were still critical of the parent’s response. Why is that?
Because people respond emotionally to events that they find upsetting. It’s completely understandable, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with experiencing negative emotions AFTER the fact. There’s not even anything wrong with experiencing negative emotions during the event itself, so long as any emotions we’re experiencing remains firmly under control, and do not affect our ability to make good decisions. When we make the decision to go armed in public, we give up the right to have our emotions dictate our actions. Our responses need to be skilled, deliberate, and most importantly appropriate given the totality of the circumstances. When we allow our emotions to dictate our actions horribly negative outcomes can occur. Kudos to the family in the video. I hope that if my family and I are ever placed in a similar situation, we can act as appropriately as they did.