Is That A Pedophile In The Park?

This past weekend my son and I went to the park to play softball. My son’s best friend was planning to meet us after he finished his chores.

Not feeling up to playing ball while we waited for his friend, I suggested he play with several of the other boys in the park. He ran off happily. As I watched him scoot off, I noticed an older man inside the ball park.

I assumed he was with one of the other boys.

Not giving it much thought, I pulled out my laptop and started working. After awhile, I noticed that the other boys had left the park.

The man was still there.

He was playing with my son.

A sixth sense kicked in. This was not normal it told me. What man takes the time to play with a child, a child that isn’t his own, for no apparent reason? Worse, what type of man hangs out at a concrete park without children of his own on a Saturday afternoon?

I quickly packed up my laptop and walked over to where my son was. He smiled and waved. The man, however, did not.

His reaction upon seeing me was to tell my son he could no longer play ball with him. He didn’t look in my direction. Didn’t acknowledge me, although I was staring straight at him.

A small voice told me to take his picture. I didn’t. He walked away too quickly.

I wish I had.

As the man left, my son walked toward me …smiling, carefree, innocent.

I motioned toward the seat near me.

I was scared for him.

No matter how many times we’ve had the talk, I knew it would not be enough.

It can NEVER be enough.

It does not matter how many times he says, “I know”. It does not matter if he rolls his eyes or exclaims he is not a child. It does not matter because he matters.

Our children matter.

We are their first defense against the evil in this world. Because evil exists. Pedophiles exist. It does not matter if you have a boy or a girl. It can happen. Jerry Sandusky is just one of many. And so I sat, and I reminded my very sweet 11 year old, that he is never to leave the park with anyone,  he must never give out his home address and on and on.

He’s heard the spiel.

According to the National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW),  we have several dozen pedophiles in the area.

Am I scared?

Of course I am!

But he is getting older and I must let go. For now, I  prepare him. I remind him. I show him. Because a little fear will keep him safe. A little fear will keep him aware. And that is what I want.

And so I send him off to play with a hug and a kiss.

Because fear can not, must not, contain him.

Let’s talk! Do you think I overreacted? What would you have done in this situation?  Share your thoughts in a comment below!




Playground rules prohibit adults without children. Signs, like the one shown below, are posted. If you should see an adult without a child, you can notify the police. The individual will than be fined and removed from the premises.

NYC Playground Rules  2007

To verify if a sex offender lives in or near your area, you can go to the a National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW)
or to the individual state’s Public Registry Site.


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About the Author

Migdalia Rivera, also known as Ms. Latina in social media, is a single Latina mother of a teen, tween and 2 Australian Shepherds. When not blogging, or chasing after her energetic bunch, she connects influential bloggers with brands and PR agencies via her blogger network, Stiletto Media.

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{ 12 comments… add one }

  • Bicultural Mama June 26, 2012, 11:05 am

    OMG, I would have totally freaked out. The fact that he didn’t acknowledge you and walked away quickly suggests that he wasn’t there for the right reasons. I parent would have said hi to you, talked about his own kids, maybe explain why he was even there. It reminds us that even though we tell our kids about these things, they may not fully understand in the moment of when things are actually happening – scary, but you handled it well.

  • Amanda O. June 26, 2012, 11:08 am

    Overreact? No. In my opinion you did exactly the right thing. I can relate all to well with the eye rolls and the “Geez, I know, mom!”s. My 13-year-old might not like it, but I’ll bet she thinks twice about sketchy situation. Good job, mom!

  • Nancy Johnson Horn (@Nancy_Horn) June 26, 2012, 11:25 am

    Never underestimate your motherly instincts. I agree with Maria, a normal parent would have said hello and explained why he was there. My kids are so young (my oldest is 6 1/2) and ever since I heard about the Sandusky story, I’ve been trying to make them aware that they can’t go off with strangers or blindly trust anyone (and that no one should be looking under their clothes).

  • Vanessa Man June 26, 2012, 5:02 pm

    Overreacted? No way!! I am so paranoid with my kids that as soon as I would have seen an adult playing with them I would have approached him. Next time be more alert and take the picture. Pedophiles do exist and unfortunately they are around us. My kids very seldomly go play in anybody else’s house because I am paranoid. The truth is we don’t know the parents most of the times, or the older siblings, and there have been plenty of cases when kids have been raped in similar situations. My kids hate that I am paranoid, but I got to protect them. I have learned to let go a little more, but still he is only authorized to go to certain friend’s houses, those that I have met the parents and have gotten a good feeling from them. I would have been so scared being in your shoes. WOW. On the good side, it gave you an excuse to have that conversation again, even with more details now.

  • Michele Pineda June 26, 2012, 5:36 pm

    scary, but all too true unfortunately… sounds like he could have been a pedophile but I’m glad that you were there. My daughter is almost 11 and I still have the talk with her quite often, it’s so darn easy to be too trusting and I’d rather err on the side of caution. She is bummed because she’s not allowed to sleep overs… and probably won’t be (as her dad says, they don’t have those kind of parties in Guatemala and she won’t be going to them here) I get kind of nervous letting her go to parties where I don’t know the parents, unless it is a public place, then I am a little better off because I can linger somewhere away from the party, but still be watchful. Glad things worked out on your end, and that you had the chance to give your son the talk yet again!

  • Katrina Newell June 26, 2012, 6:09 pm

    Heck yeah you were right to protect your son! In a world that has gone terribly wrong, we as parents have to go over and above to protect our children
    What!! I commend you for the information.


  • Ofelia June 26, 2012, 6:49 pm

    My spine shivered as I read this. I thank God you both ended up having a conversation, even if he rolls his eyes at you. Hug him extra tight, remind him it’s all about wanting to keep him safe.
    Ofelia recently posted..Wedding Planning

  • Ofelia June 26, 2012, 6:55 pm

    PS my instincts tell me you did the absolute right thing. Checking on your child in the park? Couldn’t get much more innocent or routine for a mom… Don’t make me think about that father who had to take justice into his hands a few weeks ago.
    Ofelia recently posted..Wedding Planning

  • alissa apel June 26, 2012, 10:13 pm

    I don’t think you overreacted at all! You went with your instincts, which is what you are supposed to do!

    Around 1994 a boy here was high school age. He was at home and went to take out the trash. Well he never went back inside and never was seen again. He was in the brother-in-law’s classes. They thought it might of been a run away. The son had no noticeable reason to run away. The neighborhood wasn’t bad. We live in Omaha, Nebraska. It’s a city, but not a huge city. Things can happen anywhere. His mother started a non-profit org called Project Jason. She helps mother’s – families that have missing children cope.

    When I was in college a guy friend was in the Plaza shopping area of Kansas City, MO. It was dark, but there are always people around there. The guy was maced in the face and his wallet was stolen.

    I think boys in particular think they are super heroes. Even my husband can walk at night, but he freaks out when he hears of me doing so. Sure I’m not as strong, but if someone comes at you with intent, it could end badly.

    My son Mica thinks that because he’s gone to a few martial arts classes, he’s the kung fu master. Boys are hard to get through with this kind of thing.
    alissa apel recently posted..WW: Jellies {Linky}

  • Betty June 27, 2012, 9:22 am

    Here’s the thing – your phone takes photos and mom’s take photos of their kids all the time. The idea that you are also documenting a photo of that man can be disguised by a casual telling your son to smile and saying how much he enjoys the park. You haven’t panicked your son, you haven’t got in that guy’s face. Walk away, find a policeman and show him the photo. maybe, possibly there have been a string of complaints about that guy. Or maybe this is the first the police have heard anything.
    Safety first – I would not try the offensive maneuver of aggressively taking just the guy’s photo. That totally could set the guy off and he’s probably closer to the kid then to you. omg your instincts were spot on, but a photo can actually give the police what they need to protect all kids at that park.
    When kids are playing, it’s good to ask them to give you a wave every now and then. Sort of get everyone in the habit of making sure the family is close. Especially when kids go off playing, they can shift location and very quickly get out of sight. Make it a family thing to be able to see each other. My daughter just loved to hide on me, and yes it put gray in my hair. When she started babysitting she gave me a hug and said how sorry she was that she so delighted in disappearing on me.

  • Patricia June 28, 2012, 8:43 am

    That is a little scary. No I don’t think you overreacted. It is always good to remind our kids of the danger out there. They seem to forget. They are so innocent.

  • Gloria October 31, 2012, 8:14 pm

    OMG. I would have flipped out! It really saddens and sickens me that these type of people are actually allowed to be around our children at all! My radicalism tells me they should ALL be locked up and have the key thrown away!

    I’m very glad you and little man are safe and sound that’s what is very important to ALL of us.
    Gloria recently posted..Complaints and Positivity

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