A family member has written a heartfelt letter after their 80-year-old dad was investigated by police for simply talking to a young boy at a NSW supermarket.
The letter reveals the incident has “struck at the confidence of an older man”, after he spoke to a boy and patted his head, which then saw him interviewed by police.
“My 80 year old father spoke kindly to a young boy in the prominent supermarket in Winmalee,” the letter reads.
“This gesture ended with the child having a friendly hand rest briefly on his head or shoulder.”
“At his car, my father was challenged by a plain-clothed police officer. This lead to confusion and upsettedness expressed [sic]”.
The letter, which has been posted on Reddit and attracted hundreds of comments, goes on to reveal how the incident didn’t end there, with the 80-year-old later visited at home by police.
“A few days later, two detectives arrived unannounced at my parents Winmalee home, continually reassuring my parents that all was OK, and the CCTV footage aligned with my parents story – the matter would not be pursued further,” the letter explains.
“It is of some alarm that you did not consider that a friendly word to a young person may just be that. It is of concern to me that you could no consider that engagement within the community will involve being spoken to by police unknown to us – and that, as social animals, people naturally will seek to momentarily bond within their community.
“I cannot express how much your actions of alarm has struck at the confidence of an older man. His expression of goodwill undone by an overly zealous person, who did not have the courage to speak of their opinion directly to my father, or guide the child away. Or to join in and add to the conversation.”
The letter has struck a chord with people, with some relating similar stories they have experienced.
“As a male, I feel like I have to always be extra careful, even when I'm with wife & child there, many people perceive males way differently,” wrote one commenter. “Right or wrong, that biased is deeply ingrained.”
“I'm becoming the type guy who will sit and watch a kid play and potentially die in traffic before I go to help it out of the way,” added another.
"As a man, best not physically interact with anyone's children or even talk to a child if it's alone, even if it's lost. Not worth one's reputation. Too many crazy overzealous parents out there," explained another.