Friday, November 13, 2009

Good Thing Friday: Tattling.

Here in Portland, the newspaper today published an account of a 30-year old man sexually abusing his 6-year old daughter in public, in a movie theater. A 14-year old high school student enlisted the help of another woman in the theater, her daughter and the manager, to call 9-1-1 and have him arrested. Security cameras showed him touching her inappropriately, and the world has another registered-sex-offender for life and a little girl taken into protective custody.

You can read the article here.

It's hard to pull a Good Thing Friday out of a story like that, but as the comments on the story show, everyone agrees that 14-year old Nichelle McKinney is quite a young woman. She saw something wrong; she sat near the man to confirm what was going on; enlisted extra help; was ready to take his license plate down should he leave. At 14, that level of confidence and ability to take action are commendable.

It isn't a gray situation of course - what she saw was disturbing. (Read: this isn't a parent yelling in a grocery store or giving a light spank; situations where maybe one should speak up and maybe one should shut up. This one was extreme.) But how many people would convince themselves they weren't seeing it? I can admit I'm not sure what I would have done. That sort of blatant abuse in the open... it's shocking, it makes you want to turn away, and Nichelle moved from being shocked to helping very quickly.

So, like all the commenters at the Oregonian, I applaud Nichelle. And I think of times I should have, or should in the future, remember that tattling can be a good thing. Sometimes, someone has to stand up - in school, at the store, in the office, at the park. Has it ever been you? I'd like to hear about it. And have a happy, authentic, aware Friday - in thanks for Nichelle.


  1. Jesus. That is disturbing. I don't know what I would have done. I know that in so much of life I avoid conflict at all costs. I hope Nichelle keeps that instinct as she gets older. Wow.

  2. Yay for Nichelle!! Ahhh the mob is fascinating. The ability for several people to witness something horrifying and do nothing about it. You will be happy to read that I did bust some teenagers last week. The Rouse family and I were on a walk when we spotted a group of boys in the back of Beth's school. They were far too old to be members of the grade school and from their posturing and skulking they were clearly up to no good. We could see they were all smoking. The disturbing thing was it looked like they were dealing. What we could only guess. We saw no exchange of coins or packets but there was something organized in their loitering. One was cocky enough to wave at me while giving me the "what's up" chin jerk. As we turned the corner Jen pointed out a boy in a red hoodie and said, "look they even have a lookout". Ahh the keen eye of a reporter. Well at this point I was getting angry. They were practically in my backyard! And this was little Beth's school! We were all complaining about the youths of today when I stopped and said, "Why don't we do something about it?". We were the neighborhood...we were WATCHING. So I called the cops, who bless their hearts, showed up in less than 10 minutes. Now the boys weren't hauled off in shackles but they did get quite the talking to. And I am hopeful that one of the little thugs was terrified enough by the encounter that he is rethinking his life of crime. What I do know is the little punks have not been back.