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Are all Canberrans this unhelpful?

By missjill - 18 June 2008 114

Hello, and no, this isn’t the usual political post, nor is it a restaurant review, it’s really just a whinge (if you like), about what happened to me today.

I am a single mother of a 2 year old toddler. Not by choice, but by circumstances. I have full care for my child, I work part-time, and I study part-time. Shopping with a toddler is not easy, and I’m sure the mothers and fathers out there can recall a time when all their child wanted to do was experiment with their new found freedom, by running everywhere and anywhere. This does not mean the child is naughty; it’s a normal part of growing up.

What happened this afternoon, was not only dangerous and extremely frustrating, but it has prompted me to ask the question, “Are all Canberrans this unhelpful?”

As I exited the Coles Supermarket at Gungahlin, my 2 year old wanted to walk. I allowed her to get out of her stroller, as she had been in the stroller for about 2 hours while I shopped. As I pushed the stroller with one hand, she walked by my side holding my other hand, until she noticed the walking escalators to the underground carpark. At this point, she broke free from my hand and she ran off. I had no option but to let go of my stroller, along with the groceries that were hanging on both sides, and also my handbag. The stroller tipped over when I let it go from the weight on its handles. I didn’t care. Toddler was all that was on my mind as she was going down the ‘up’ escalator.

A young couple were approaching the escalator and they were closer to the escalator then I was. I could see them watching my toddler run, and I hoped they would grab her, but no, they were happy to just let her run down the ‘up’ escalator without a worry in the world. She fell, hurt herself, and when I got there – after dumping my stroller and goods – it was obvious that I was caught in a very difficult and quite a dangerous situation. I needed someone to help me. I managed to jump backwards with my toddler in my arms, only to see the same young couple half way down the escalator just staring at what had just happened. They shook their heads in disgust and even managed a smirk or giggle. They had their own toddler walking next to them.  I quickly buckled my toddler into the stroller, and then collected the things with one hand, and went down the ‘down’ escalator this time. As I got downstairs, I saw the same young couple. I said “One day that might just happen to you and you’ll want help.” The young man replied by saying “We don’t have naughty kids”. I replied by saying “It’s normal for toddlers to want to run. You probably don’t realise that it’s a normal part of growing up”.

It was his “We don’t have naughty kids” comment, that prompted me to write my story on RiotACT. Please, when you see a mother with a child in an awkward or difficult situation, please don’t just stand there and please don’t pass judgment. A helping hand goes a long way. My child eats healthy food, does not have ADHD, is extremely polite and well behaved, but she’s TWO, and she will test out those little legs at every opportunity. In hindsight, I probably should have kept her in the stroller, and I probably should have yelled out “Help me please!”, or “Stop that child!”. I did neither, but I didn’t deserve to be told that my child is “naughty”.

I have no doubt I’ll get a bunch of people telling me it’s my fault yadda, yadda, yadda, but honestly, can you say it’s a decent thing to do to just let someone get into trouble like this with a toddler, just walk on by and not care. They had the opportunity to help, but they did not. That is a sad reflection on society. I have seen mothers in trouble before, and I will uually ask “Do you need help”, or “Let me hold the grocery bag while you grab the child”, or whatever. More often then not, they are happy to accept a helping hand from a stranger.

On the 1st Anniversary of the death of Brendan Keilar, the man who stopped to help a woman in the streets of Melbourne, only to be shot himself, I ask myself, why are so many people unwilling to help others these days? Surely a mother and toddler deserve a helping hand, if only to collect the groceries from the floor.

Is this unhelpful attitude unique to Canberra, or are people generally so unhelpful these days wherever you go?

Thanks for reading.; you can go back to your political threads now for more stimulating debate.

Whinge over.

What’s Your opinion?


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114 Responses to
Are all Canberrans this unhelpful?
The Brad 6:04 pm 18 Jun 08

The other day in Woden Plaza, I saw a mother with a child (about 10-ish), frantically yelling “Brad, Brad”. I slowed down to make sure Brad turned up. 20 seconds later, 11-ish Brad turns up confused as to the commotion.
Mums reaction – a big hug. Then a calm-ish explanation to explain why that was a bad thing.
Brad was just an older version of the adventurous 2 year old.
I bet those 2 a***holes would have thought that Mum did a bad job letting Brad wander off. But I bet Brad ends up a better human being than either of them.

Enny 5:59 pm 18 Jun 08

I probably wouldn’t have helped in that instance, for fear of being yelled at.

However, had you called out something like ‘Stop that child’ (like you said) then I would have known it was fine and I would have stopped the child.

And I probably would have just apologised if I hadn’t helped and had been confronted – them being so judgemental does no good for anyone.

joeyjo 5:52 pm 18 Jun 08

Woolworths’ home delivery: http://www.homeshop.com.au

tylersmayhem 5:38 pm 18 Jun 08

Yes, I’d like to also underline that the young couple are arseholes for saying what they did. Their kids were probably jacked up on Ritalin because the little ones once dropped a can of baked beans in the kitchen.

You’re kids are not naughty and you’re not a bad parent because of it!

Crap…you should have seen me when I was little. Picture my Mum browsing through DJ’s in Woden when they used to have the big spools of material in the sewing section. I thought it was a sweet idea to hide amongst the big rolls of fabric until my Mum and the store staff were frantic enough. At the perfect time, I jumped out from all the rolls knocking them all over the store (rolling down the escalators and all) and couldn’t realise why I was in trouble. My mum was told at that time I was a naughty child. Probably a fair time to say it in that case. Hey, at least I had spirit as a child and wasn’t half lobotomised unnecessarily with drugs to make me “normal”.

The Brad 5:31 pm 18 Jun 08

People tend to think everyone else but themselves are bad drivers.
People tend to think everyone else but themselves are bad parents.

It’s human nature to easily criticise, and difficult to praise others. It really should be the other way around.

I admire anyone who is raising kids on their own.

missjill 5:24 pm 18 Jun 08

Hi. First of all, Overheard I hear you, and yes, I probably could have phrased my question better, but I think most people know what I mean. Sorry. To the other replies – thank you for understanding. I really thought I’d be grilled for posting my whinge, but you’ve shown that people do understand and do care.

I agree, as it seems that wherever you go – people seem to be less likely to assist, for fear of being sued. Influenced by American TV shows I suspect! I certainly didn’t expect it to be the featured post, so it’s good to see people speaking in general terms about society, and people in Canberra in general.

Anyway, it’s time to finish building the rabbit pen in the shed before dinner. The life of a single mum; there’s nothing you can’t do, except control an uncontrollable two year old on an escalator !

RuffnReady 5:23 pm 18 Jun 08

mischief on a grand scale said :

I think in this day and age many people fear the repercussions of coming to the aid of another person, especially when a child is involved. I have witnessed a person stop a child sliding face first down the travelators at the Canberra Centre just to watch a very angry mother call security and to accuse this person of being a pedophile.
It is a case of political correctness gone mad… but sadly I think we will probably see more of these situations arise due to the way society has evolved.

I would have helped, I hate it when you see an situation arising and people stop and stare, but no one will help. But I guess we all just have to ask ourselves what is coming of society today?

Exactly. As a 30-something male if I go anywhere near a child I feel like someone is going to accuse me of something… forget restraining a child who was going to get on the escalators! I’d be locked up for that, I’m sure.

This is not a Canberra thing at all, it’s the world at large – unfortunately the whole place is turning hostile, largely due to litigation culture, the culture of fear driven by media, and the cult of the individual (me! me! me! is all that matters). I help people when I see they need it, and I have been helped by people… but throw a child into the equation and things get very dicey.

That said, the young couple are judgmental arseholes, but karma will catch up with them…

Mess 5:18 pm 18 Jun 08

Its becoming a “f*** you, me first” society. No one helps anyone anymore. Its evident everywhere, and the above story is a classic example. I was raised to always be polite and courteous, and to help those in need. I cant remember the last time I saw anyone stop to help anyone in need. It makes me mad.

neanderthalsis 5:17 pm 18 Jun 08

When I was a 2yo terror many, many years ago, my mother used to put me on a leash, a child harness that allows the kidlet to walk around with the parent, but not make a dash or freedom at the first opportunity. I must admit though, as payback for being restrained, I would crawl and bark on occasion causing great embarrassment.

My sister did the same thing with her child recently, a boy just under two that like me, loved to break free. She was abused in a shopping centre recently by a mother (with a tantrum throwing, snotty-nosed little brat that was bawling and tearing open packaging in tow) for restraining the little tyke in that manner.

Clown Killer 5:15 pm 18 Jun 08

Missjill we’re not all unhelpful. Many people don’t know how to help. Some are afraid, others believe that another persons circumstances are none of their business.

As a parent of young children, I understand your predicament. I would have helped.

tylersmayhem 5:10 pm 18 Jun 08

I think unfortunately some Canberran’s are becoming like the rest of the world where we put the blinkers on and take care of our own business. Because of problems with strangers taking off with kids, or being sued when they try and help, but drop the little one in the process – people are less inclined to help than they used to be. Quite a shame really.

I’ve been away from Canberra for over 5 years and man it’s changed. As a city, we seem so caught up in trying to be a bigger city like Syd & Melb, that we’ve taken on some of the negative aspects of those great cities. People mind their business more now – more and more is the charm gone Canberra being small enough for people to look out for each other more.

I would love to have helped had I been there, and most likely would have, but I’d also feel an instant pang of concern that I’d be in trouble for touching a strangers child.

mischief on a grand 5:03 pm 18 Jun 08

I think in this day and age many people fear the repercussions of coming to the aid of another person, especially when a child is involved. I have witnessed a person stop a child sliding face first down the travelators at the Canberra Centre just to watch a very angry mother call security and to accuse this person of being a pedophile.
It is a case of political correctness gone mad… but sadly I think we will probably see more of these situations arise due to the way society has evolved.

I would have helped, I hate it when you see an situation arising and people stop and stare, but no one will help. But I guess we all just have to ask ourselves what is coming of society today?

bighead 5:01 pm 18 Jun 08

I would have helped too. And no, your toddler is not naughty. They are exploring and doing what toddlers naturally want to do. Tney felt confident enough to leave you and run elsewhere. You had very little choice in the situation as to what you could have done. I suspect the young couple may be parents that believe their child would never be naughty… And how many parents are like that are amazing. Children should never be labeled like that.

Nosey 4:44 pm 18 Jun 08

If I was their I would definitely have helped.

I also have a two year old, with a wife, and sometimes you could still use help.

Sorry about your experience.

I like to think that those two unhelpfuls are the minority.

Keep your head up and forget what they said. I’m sure you are doing a great job.

Overheard 4:40 pm 18 Jun 08

“Are all Canberrans this unhelpful?”

That’s a problematic question with a very simple answer. As soon as you use the word ‘all’ or try to bundle every single inhabitant of a city into one amorphous mass, then the answer has got to be an emphatic and resounding ‘no’.

Your experience is a reflection of the attitude of the two people you encountered, not necessarily the other 328,998 (or however many we’re up to now).

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