Parents have the toughest job in the world. They have to protect their children from other kids while also making sure they don’t fall prey to adults with ill intent. The latter is exactly what one woman suspected was happening when an 11-year-old’s father casually mentioned a road trip the girl would be taking with a family friend.
In the story, originally posted to the r/CPS subreddit, then uploaded to TikTok on the "Relaxing Time Stories" account, the woman started by saying that she is part of Big Brothers/Big Sisters and has been mentoring the girl for some time now.
According to her, the child, whom she calls 'V,' suffers from a severe case of ADHD, possibly has a 'diminished mental capacity,' and feels more like a seven- or eight-year-old than an 11-year-old.
The day before she posted to Reddit, she was discussing plans for future sessions with her client’s father when he mentioned that the girl had “been invited by their middle-aged family friend who is a trucker to accompany him on his truck across the country for a month.” According to the woman, “red flags” popped up because “an 11-year-old girl, alone with a man who is not a family member, cycling through truck stops for any amount of time opens up so many clear and avoidable opportunities for abuse.”
The interaction prompted her to talk to V’s mother who she said is “also a little mentally stunted,” but the woman had no concerns, calling the truck driver her out-of-state best friend, while admitting that though he had two bunks in his semi-truck, the girl would be sleeping in the same one as him. Her mother claimed to have objected and insisted her little girl rest in the extra bed alone.
The parents were secure in sending her on the trip with their friend because they planned on getting her a phone. But they couldn’t afford a plan, and the girl would have to rely on WiFi to communicate with her family via Facebook Messenger.
On her part, the girl was excited to travel, but barely knew the man and was scheduled to leave in a week’s time. In the meantime, to ramp up the concern, the poster was told that the girl would be camping for four days with a man from her church and would return when it was time to depart with the truck driver for a month.
“I don’t know the details so it could be absolutely fine, but with the truck situation at the forefront of my mind, this again feels like another instance where V is being put in a vulnerable situation with a male family acquaintance,” the woman said.
But red flags turned to outright alarm when V’s mom revealed that her husband’s stepfather had been previously convicted of sexually abusing three children under the age of 10, yet was allowed to spend time with his grandchildren, including the girl.
All of the information shared led her to believe the family was putting their daughter at risk of being violated.
“To me, a call to CPS feels necessary and urgent. However, Big Brothers/Big Sisters has stated that they do not have enough evidence to file a report themselves which is making me second guess myself,” she explained.
With no evidence of actual abuse or the child being in any immediate danger, she wondered if she was overreacting and reasoned that she felt the situation was “groomy” and “unnatural.” But readers implored her to take the situation seriously and report it. They advised her to contact Child Protective Services (CPS), the police, and even call a hotline to report potential human trafficking.
After receiving a ton of feedback, the mentor took the overwhelming advice and contacted CPS.
In an updated post, which was also uploaded to TikTok, she said, “I did call CPS and file a report about the camping trip, trucking trip, and the family's proximity to convicted sexual predators early yesterday morning. They called me back shortly after and had me give my best guess on where V was going to be that afternoon, which was a huge relief because it meant they had flagged the report as urgent on their end.”
Later that same day, V’s parents advised the woman that the girl would be skipping the trip because they’d been reported to CPS. The agency reiterated that it was inappropriate for any 11-year-old to travel across the country with someone they are not related to. According to her, it sounded like the camping trip was off the table as well.
The police were unable to intervene as a crime had not yet been committed, but the woman had them on speed dial for the moment the girl was in harm’s way. She also contacted the trucking company to get clarity on their policy for driver’s traveling with passengers and likely warn them about their employee.
She did clear up any questions as to why she didn’t report the situation right away, stating that she had to go through the proper protocol with her job. “There are a lot of relationships and fragile trust structures at play, along with the wellbeing of other children in the household that we had to be cognizant about,” she explained.
Parents should prioritize the safety of their children, no matter what.
As a child, any time my parents had a gut feeling something wasn’t right, I simply did not go. Parents have a duty to keep anything that might put them at risk away from their children. They certainly should not take actions that they know might draw predators to their child.
Once a child is abused, the opportunity to keep them away from the resulting trauma and despair is gone. As a parent, I would rather err on the side of my child’s safety than willingly and knowingly take a chance ruining their life because I want to prove my trust to a friend who for some strange and unknown reason enjoys that company of little girls.
NyRee Ausler is a writer from Seattle, Washington. She covers lifestyle, relationship, and human-interest stories that readers can relate to and that bring social issues to the forefront for discussion.
This article originally appeared on YourTango