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.