Would anything about this scene cause you concern? A 70 year-old grandfather sits on a beach watching his six year-old granddaughter splash in the shallows in the nude.

It’s an unscheduled visit, there are no swimmers packed. A six year-old wants what a six year-old wants.

Next thing, police turn up to question the man: they had received an anonymous call of concern about an elderly man sitting with a naked child at the beach. The police question the man, in public, question the six year-old child, and establish quickly that he is simply a grandfather watching his granddaughter spontaneously make the most of summer’s last gasp at Balmoral Beach.

emmIn yesterday’s Sun Herald, journalist Eamonn Duff wrote the story about the man, Leo, and his granddaughter, Emma, who were both left shaken by the episode.

According to Duff, a bewildered Leo has questioned his role in the incident since: “Should I have insisted she keep her top on? Would they still have complained anyway?

“Would this have happened if I had been a female? Would it have occurred if I had been a younger man?”

Leo reports that his granddaughter has been most affected – her mother reports that in the bath that night she said ‘I did something wrong. I’m in trouble’.”

From carefree splashing in the water with a big grin on her face, to anxiety about being in trouble about something.

What’s wrong with this picture?

Child advocates have come out saying that the anonymous member of the public did the right thing. Hetty Johnston, child protection advocate says that “that member of the public did what, we hope, everyone now does in such situations.”

Likewise the Sun Herald quotes Detective Acting Superintendent Linda Howlett of the Sex Crimes squad as saying: “It’s better to be safe than sorry,” she said, “If a member of the public does see something that causes them concern, we encourage them to contact the police and we will follow that up.”

Such situations … causes for concern. Are we, as a society, to start from the supposition that all men out with young children are paedophiles, and work our way back from there?


Would you be concerned if you were witness to the scene above?

What would make you call the police?



Above image of Emma and Leo on Sydney’s Balmoral Beach by Tamara Dean, via smh.com.au.


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