Yesterday I saw a little girl fall over in the playground. There were a few mums near her and they approached her cautiously. The girl was hysterical, but instead of picking her up and comforting her, the mums looked around for her mum. It wasn’t an uncaring reaction, just a symptom of our highly self conscious society. Lots of people don’t want to get involved with another child they don’t know. A few months ago I saw how their self consciousness might be justified when my husband was told off by a parent for picking up a child who had similarly fallen over and was hysterical. Perhaps it was because he was a man, or people are just more suspicious of men, I don't know.
As a parent this naturally pains me. The less you want to get involved with other people and their kids the less likely you’d get involved if something was really wrong. I want people to help out if my sons in trouble/hurt. I also don’t want to feel reluctant to help a child in trouble.
I feel it would be a different story if we all knew each other in the playground. This may be me being all sentimental because I’ve never lived anywhere where the community was that enclosed and familiar. What do we do if we want to chance this situation? My gut feeling is simply that anonymity breeds fear, so perhaps it’s as simple as saying hello to the other parents next time I’m down in the park.