East Towne Mall, Madison, WI Saturday, 10/20/12 545p - This situation was beyond scary and literally ruined my day, not to mention trip to the mall. As I write this submission, I have worked a total of 46 hours since Monday between 3 jobs and my next day off is Thursday, so yes, I am a bit crabby and tired. I had gotten off work, went tanning and came to the mall to put money on my nephew's game plus purchase some gifts for Sweetest Day. I usually enter through the food court, however, something told me to enter through a different entrance, which I did. As I was walking through the mall (I was a bit lost because I came through a different entrance rather than my usual one) I stopped past the play area located toward the center of the mall. People were walking, parents pushing strollers and young adults hanging out. Typical mall atmosphere of Saturday shoppers, including myself.
I look around and I see a small child, a girl between 2-3 years of age wandering alone. Concerned, I stopped and watched to see if her parents or another caregiver were nearby. She kept calling out for her daddy in a soft voice, and nobody came forward for her. I watched as she walked down the mall, searching for her parents. I was waiting to see if someone would claim her, and nothing happened. I knew something was wrong, so I followed her. She walked all the way down the mall, alone, unsupervised, to JC Penney, which is a long way from the play area. My concern was that she would be kidnapped or run outside the mall, so I grabbed her hand and took her to JC Penney, where their security team was contacted. Their security team contacted mall security. About five minutes had passed since I found her. The six of us-mall security and JC Penney security walked down to the play area, where we searched for her parents. They mentioned they had seen this all the time in the mall, where children wander off and neither team was happy about this situation, as they felt the parents were irrespnsible and negligent. The child was scared and confused, unable to answer our questions about where her parents went. Our thoughts were that someone had abandoned her at the mall, or left the mall, unaware she was gone. Either way, we were concerned for her safety, and waited patiently for someone to step forward.
The mall's policy for lost children is to contact the police after twenty minutes. From the time I found her and turned over to mall security, it had been twenty minutes, and the police were called. All of a sudden, her mother stepped forward. We don't know how long she was alone and unsupervised. After security turned the child over to her mother, I told the mother she needs to keep a better eye on her child. She told me she stepped into a store for a few minutes and left her child alone to pay for her items. I believe she said the child wandered off; she claimed to be unaware she was missing. I told her that was no excuse, that she is lucky her daughter wasn't kidnapped or hit by car. I also told her she is a parent and she needs to act like one, starting with a better job of watching her daughter. Finally, I asked her how she would've felt had her daughter been kidnapped or seriously hurt. I told her there was no excuse to let a child that young wander a busy mall alone, unsupervised. She was from another country, and I am not sure if leaving a child alone is a cultural thing, yet I wanted her to understand how serious this was, because she acted nonchalant about it. As I was talking to her, her husband approached with their older child, having the same attitude about the situation as she did. Perhaps I shouldn't have raised my voice. I was tired, angry and concerned. I hope that she is aware that here in America, we supervise young children, instead of leaving them on their own. - Miss Dee
at 7:48 AM