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BellaOnline's Missing and Exploited Children Editor

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Cellphone Cameras and Public Restrooms


Recently family and friends gathered to celebrate one young woman’s milestone high school graduation. As our group arrived at the upscale local restaurant the seven adults, and three children were all seated at a long table together. The children, all boys, 8, 12, and 14 years of age were having a blast.

All three boys are educated to be aware of their surroundings and on this night, it may never have been more important than ever before. While we neared the end of our meal and began the process of paying the bill the boys made a trip to the restaurant bathroom. Suddenly, the youngest boy came up and said, “Mom, I need you, NOW!” As my friend left with her son I realized, my son, the 14 year old was still in the bathroom. Therefore, I sent my husband to make sure everything was all right.

Soon everyone returned to our table and I quickly learned what might have happened in the bathroom. The youngest boy was finishing using the urinal when he heard what sounded like the click of a cell phone camera. As he looked up, he noticed an older adult man standing next to him holding his cell phone. The boy immediately said, “Did you just take my picture?” The man said, “No, I was just checking my cell phone.”

That is when this smart young man ran to get his mama bear, who confronted the man outside the restroom. She said, “My son thinks you may have taken his picture with your cell phone?” He denied that this happened and shortly thereafter left the restaurant with his wife or girlfriend. My husband felt he was in a hurry to leave.

As I realized what may have happened my friend and I went to look for the man outside the restaurant. As timing would have it he was nowhere in sight. Yet luck was on our side just as I suggested we contact the police, a uniformed officer walked out of the establishment next to our restaurant. We immediately informed him of what may have happened.

He began looking for the man in question as we returned to the restaurant and located the table the couple had been occupying. There on the table was the restaurant bill enclosed in the black folder and the man had paid with a credit card. We immediately walked over to a worker and requested the manager. My friend left to locate the police officer with whom we had spoken with earlier. The officer came in and took down the pertinent information, including the contact number for my friend and her child.

Then the group returned to the hotel where we were staying and began checking the national sex offender registry to see if we could find a match on the name or face. Although, we did not find a match on the name used to sign the check, and have not heard from the police regarding the incident, I realized I had not covered a very important subject here since I began writing for BellaOnline’s Missing and Exploited Children site six years ago.

Teach children of all ages to be aware of who may be taking their picture in public and private places. No one should be taking photographs of anyone’s private parts, and definitely, no one should have their cell phone or camera out in dressing rooms, bathrooms or any area where people may be changing or using the bathroom. In addition, adults should be aware if they have their cell phones out in a public restroom that someone may misinterpret what may or may not actually be happening.

If an adult takes your child’s picture, teach your child to notify you or another safe adult immediately. Also, show children how to be observant of their surroundings. If they hear the sound of a camera taking a picture in a bathroom or see a cell phone under or over the stall walls they should yell and run. On the other hand, remember that almost all cell phones have a built in camera and if you confront someone who may have exploited your child use your phone to photograph the person, their date or their vehicle license plate for the police.
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Content copyright © 2014 by Erika Lyn Smith. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Erika Lyn Smith. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Erika Lyn Smith for details.

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