Police Superintendent Carolyn Harper, who led the search for Shabaaz, admitted people were wary of approaching children for "fear of how that may be construed". But she urged the public to contact the police if they ever saw a child in unusual circumstances and advised parents and their children to agree a plan of action in case they were ever separated.The Herald editorial says:
It is a depressing sign of our times that people are afraid to approach a child in need for fear of their motives being misconstrued. Had it been a lost dog in Glasgow city centre, it would have been fussed over and taken to the police within the hour. Yet a small child on his own was left to fend for himself. To some extent, the public reaction is understandable. Such is the revulsion towards adults who prey on children that many people, men in particular, are reluctant to intervene. Twenty years ago they would have done so without a second thought. Not now.So adults should "be encouraged to intervene, appropriately". Any sensible adult would be very wary of doing that these days. It seems to me that the anti-paedophile witch-hunt carried out by certain social workers is coming home to roost.
Perhaps society requires a new code of conduct where lost children are concerned, one which recognises that while youngsters should not be encouraged to speak to strangers, they ought to know when and how to seek help. Basic tactics, such as teaching them their address, can also prove invaluable. Adults, for their part, should be encouraged to intervene, appropriately, if they suspect a child is in danger. If they do not wish to approach the child in person, they can call the police or alert someone else in authority. The risk of embarrassment from reading the situation wrongly is a small price to pay for saving a child from possible harm.