By ANNA JAMES.
It’s probably the one of the most confronting situation a person can deal with: face to face with a child sex offender.
And there it happened – 9am on a Tuesday morning.
Like every other Tuesday morning, I was hightailing it to the train station, gulping an Up and Go. Half running half walking down the street, I spotted a hyper-yellow tricked out ute parked outside the local primary school. Amused, I peered in to the car to see what kind of person would drive such an ostentatious car, and I really wish I hadn’t.
The driver had his footy shorts on the ground and he was masturbating.
Three things struck me instantly. Firstly, the man would have been in his 20s – around my age. He looked like a normal gym-going sandy haired bloke that I’d meet at a bar. He was far removed from the decrepit trench-cloaked, stereotypical paedophile that I had built in my mind.
Secondly, he was parked on a brightly lit main road at a time where mothers ferried their kids to school. This was no late night car park attack, which again, challenged my stereotype. The time and place of the incident indicated that the man clearly didn’t care who saw him. Perhaps he wanted to get caught.
And finally, I realised how ill-prepared I was to deal with this situation. I’d never in my life envisioned how I would react to a man abusing a child, in any shape or form. I’d never had that discussion with my friends and it was not mentioned during the Stranger Danger demos at school. Hauntingly, for one of the most horrifying situations a person can face, there is no plan of action.
The man didn’t notice me as I paused outside of his window in horror. He was utterly engrossed. Thankfully there were no children around, despite him being mere metres from the playground. Stunned, I began to run towards the train station.