Picture the scene you’re a single dad living with your 13-year-old girl. You have decided it would be a lovely idea to take her to Thorpe Park for the day. So living a fair distance away you decide to travel down the evening before and book a Hotel close to the park in Surrey with the view of maximising your stay in the park. That is exactly what Mr X decided to do for his daughter.
They travelled to a small place called Chertsey, close to the theme park. Whilst checking in to the hotel a member of staff questioned him about his daughter. Asking him to prove that everything is above board. Mr X now has to prove his daughter is who he says he is and not a child groomed off the internet. After showing the staff member Facebook messages and photographs they are happy. However, they have already informed the police. Was this to minimise a chance of escape if X had run?
Obviously, on this occasion, nothing came of it and no further investigations were needed. On this occasion, this was just a dad and his daughter. Was it a waste of time questioning him? Could it have been classed as humiliating, this was claimed by Mr X. Stating it ruined their whole holiday. Was it overkill on the part of the police? The answers in my opinion to all three of these questions should be NO. In a time where child abduction and grooming are real threats, I am on the side of the hotel in a story that split the internet.
How can child protection in this form ever be classed as anything other than a brilliant act of vigilance from the hotel; especially with everything that is going on in the news? The police didn’t come and arrest Mr X, throwing him to the floor in-front of everyone and tasering him in the face. That would have been overkill. All they did was take him to one side while his daughter was unaware in their room and ask him for the proof he had already shown the hotel.
Let me ask you this Mr X, how would you feel if your 13-year-old daughter had met a man online. This man had groomed your daughter into wanting to stay at that Travel Lodge. He had planned to use and abuse her. How would you have felt if the staff had admitted that they were suspicious but didn’t want to confront the man due to the concern of causing a bit of awkwardness or embarrassment?
The first experience I had of anything like this was when my daughter wanted to have a birthday party and a sleepover with some of her friends from school. Now as a single dad with no female presence in my life I was already expecting a lot of the other parents to say no. Even before sending out the invites I had warned Lexie of this. Luckily however only one parent said no to letting her daughter sleep, saying she can stay and play during the day but she was getting picked up at 17:00 as they had family engagements planned.
As a single male, you have to expect and accept this sort of thing to happen. Although at first, it is a bit uncomfortable it gets easier. To be honest, if Lexie had a friend who lived with her dad and wanted to stay overnight, I too would be more dubious than if she wanted to stay at the same girl’s house but she lived with her mum. (Sad isn’t it?). On that note, if the hotel staff had questioned me that day instead of Mr X I would have accepted it. All it took was to show some proof and we would have been on our way safe in the knowledge that they had acted in my eyes as responsibly. I would have been comforted to know that the hotel we were at is alert and keeping children safe.
Would the hotel have questioned a mum and her girl in exactly the same circumstances? Of course not, This is dangerous because there are female predators after all. However let us be clear that hotel could easily have just prevented a child being molested, abused, sold or killed. The news would have been completely different and people would be asking why the staff had not asked an adult and his 13-year-old daughter the simple questions. Surly it is worth risking a few potentially embarrassing situations than having to live with not questioning a situation and something awful happening.