What Would You Have Done?

The things you see when walking along the beach!  Especially when it’s practically deserted.

Four girls between eight and eleven were playing in these rocks; picking up shells and showing each other what they had found. They all wore bathers and one wore a cute kid’s bikini. Four adults in the distance, who I assumed were their parents, didn’t seem to be paying the girls much attention.

But two men were; one of them was photographing the girls using a long focus lens. I told myself they were relatives, or professionals with parental consent. But my gut instinct and the way the men behaved told me otherwise.

My suspicious bitch face took over as I approached and watched from a few meters away. They glanced my way and with what I thought was feigned nonchalance, wandered off; away from me, away from the children and away from the parents.

This is the thing… I did nothing! I didn’t approach these men. I said nothing to the children because I didn’t want to alarm them. I didn’t speak to the parents. What could they have done? What if the men had been harmless? My apathy made me ashamed, especially since in another life I worked in child protection.

A few days later I spoke to a criminal lawyer.  ‘I should have asked them what they were doing,’ I told him.

He shook his head.  ‘There’s no law in Australia against photographing anyone in a public place without their consent. What you should have done was trust your instincts and called the police.  If they believed the men’s behaviour was questionable, that they were exploiting the children, they would have questioned them and if necessary seized the camera for evidence.’

I really hope this doesn’t happen again.  But if it does, I won’t hesitate to call the police.  I won’t worry about being embarrassed over possible false alarms.  I’ll trust my instincts. And I won’t allow myself to believe what I want to believe.

Leave a comment below… I’d be very interested to know what you think.









  1. Veronica Asz

    Always trust your instincts. Because you stood by these men it made them walk off. That action worked.

    • diannemaguire

      It was better than nothing. But I will definitely call the police if it happens again Veronica.xx

  2. Linda Gee

    I would have taken a pic of them taking a pic of the children….having said that I think you did the right thing in placing yourself between them and the children. I have seen incidents on the beach with men taking pic of the young girls sun baking and the life guards ring the police if they think it looks sus. So sad to have to see things like this happening. Good on you Dianne

    • diannemaguire

      I’m so happy to hear that lifeguards do this Linda. Taking pic of them has a lovely note of irony about it… seeing as its not illegal that is! But I do know if the guys were predators its likely they police would recognise them. Nice to hear from you Linda. Thanks for visiting this site. x

  3. Sandy

    Sometimes these things happen so fast. It is frightening how many unsavoury characters are lurking in our communities. I have to say that I keep the police assist number in my phone, and if in doubt at least report it.
    I did this for someone that might have been dumping rubbish in the middle of the night. It might have been nothing, but I would have hated to read about a dumped body (yes, I’m a crime writer) the next day and not recall any of the details.
    But it’s a fine line to walk between sticking your nose in and being careful.

    • diannemaguire

      You know what Sandy? I would have phoned the police as well… and I don’t write crime! But dumping anything in the middle of the night is pretty sus. Thanks for visiting xx

  4. Julie Nevid

    This is a real tough one. I have been in the same position many times. I think just you lingering around the girls was the right thing to do. It very tough because if you get involved it could upset the parents. Hard to decide have to take each situation as it comes.

    • diannemaguire

      You’re absolutely right Julie. I’m surprised the parents hadn’t noticed… they were a distance away from the rocks and there were four of them. Perhaps the guys hadn’t been there for long when I rocked up. Thanks for your comment x

  5. Ruth

    You didn’t do nothing Di, you acted quickly and protected the girls from more photos being taken of them. It’s difficult to instantly work through what’s best to do in suspicious circumstances – easier after the event. Thanks for the comments – we can all kearn from them. Well done for the post.

    • diannemaguire

      Thanks for that Ruth. I do think they would have stayed much longer if my hard eye hadn’t needled them. Thanks for your encouraging comment x

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