I don't know who the "concerned citizen" is but he or she gets a gold star for their actions on Feb. 23 in Fairmont, W.Va. It seems that the "concerned citizen" was at a Fairmont grocery store and noticed a 2-year-old child with severe bruising on his head and face. The child was with his mother.
Obviously the child's injuries appeared to be more serious than from a tumble off the couch or a slip down some stairs.
The concerned citizen obtained the license plate number of the car the woman with the child was driving, and turned the information over to the West Virginia State Police.
Five days later, that 2-year-old boy was rescued from his abusive home. The child's 21-year-old mother and her boyfriend, also 21, were arrested on charges of child abuse - the male for allegedly causing the injuries and the female for not doing anything about the abuse.
It's just one more case of a young mother allegedly turning a blind eye to her boyfriend's abusive ways with her child. He may have batted mom around more than once as well. He's probably not the boy's biological father. It's the worst case scenario for the child - any child stuck in a living hell with no road out. That is until a caring, good samaritan took the time to alert someone who could help.
Now I know there will be those who say we need to mind our own business. After all, there could have been a logical explanation for the child's injuries and the shopper could have been way off base with her assumption of child abuse. But the concerned individual was not wrong this time.
Admit it. When you are in Walmart shopping and you hear a child screaming uncontrollably, it makes your blood run a bit chilly. Is the child being hurt by someone or maybe abducted? Or is it just a case of a tired kid having a meltdown at the checkout?
When is it right to step in and offer help? I think your gut feeling cannot be ignored. If you've ever been in a store when a "Code Adam" is announced, you know a child may be in danger and a parent is frantic. A Code Adam is when a child is missing and the store is locked down until the child is found. It is scary.
How many times have we seen something that just makes us stop and pause our thoughts? We have heard about newspaper delivery people or a mail carrier seeing mail or papers piling up on a porch and reporting the situation to the police. Sometimes that one phone call may save the life of an elderly person who has fallen inside their home and can't reach a telephone to call for help.
Caution is the best advice cops offer when we believe we see or hear something sinister. Because you never know today who is carrying a concealed weapon legally or illegally, the best advice is to do what that concerned citizen in Fairmont did - call the police. They will know what to do. The cops I know would rather check out a complaint than read a 2-year-old's obituary in the newspaper.
Heather Ziegler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.