DEAR ABBY: I work at the customer service desk at a popular shopping mall, where I see some very disturbing things. For example, lost children are brought to us until their parents miss them and seek help. It's not uncommon for parents to leave small children watching a display, telling them, "Stay right here -- I'm going to do a little shopping." Children have little conception of time, and will sometimes panic, thinking they have been abandoned.
When they finally locate their lost children, the parents get angry at the kids -- often spanking them and verbally berating them for getting lost. Don't they realize that it's the adults' responsibility to keep their eyes on their child -- and not the other way around?
Something else we see all too often is a parent telling the child, "If you don't behave, that policeman -- or security guard -- will get you." This makes children afraid to approach a policeman if they need help. I have seen children ask complete strangers to help them find their mommy rather than Security because they are afraid of policemen.
I don't have any children, but I feel lucky to be able to dry the eyes of lost children and help them find their parents. What if they asked for help from the wrong person? Like it or not, there are a lot of evil people out there just looking for the opportunity to abduct a lost child.
Abby, this may be too long to print, but I know you can shorten it and say it better. Perhaps seeing this in print will open some eyes. -- JAN BRANDENBURG, CUSTOMER SERVICE REPRESENTATIVE, BIRMINGHAM, ALA.
DEAR JAN BRANDENBURG: Your letter required no editing. It is perfect just the way you wrote it. Thank you for a valuable letter and a plainspoken wake-up call to many parents who need to see it.