Shopper Who Confronted Man 'Kidnapping' Screaming Girl Sparks Debate

Any parents' worst nightmare is something terrible befalling their child, be it illness, injury or abduction.

While rare, it does happen, with high-profile cases seared into the memory of millions. It seems this fear was what prompted a shopper to confront a man in a department store parking lot, after he was seen carrying a screaming girl to his car.

An account of the incident was shared online by Redditor Redjohn25 from the dad's perspective, who claimed his "patience was wearing thin" as he was asked to present proof he was linked to the toddler in some way.

The post claimed the well-meaning adult put himself in a "dangerous position" by confronting the pair, but ultimately he thanked the bystander for intervening.

A screengrab of the post was shared to Reddit on Friday, where it has amassed more than 20,000 votes and hundreds of comments. It says: "To the guy who stopped me in the Ross parking lot last night. I'm the guy who had the screaming 3-year-old over my shoulder...

"I was not kidnapping her, I just refused to buy her 4 shower loofahs (I'm a jerk I know.) As I walked this screaming, kicking ball of anger to the car (of course I would park on the other side of the parking lot) you actually had the nerve to stand in front of me and ask my daughter if she was ok (to which she promptly said no).

"My patience was wearing thin, I unlocked my phone and showed you my family photo wallpaper and continued to my car.

"You did not know me or my child yet you were prepared to put yourself in a dangerous situation to keep my daughter safe. THANK YOU.

"ORCHIDS to this guy. THIS is how we stop child abductions and trafficking."

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The Reddit post shared by user Redjohn25 on Friday.

It's not clear when or where the event took place, or if it did, but it sparked a heated debate online. Some people praised the Good Samaritan, while others claimed it was indicative of sexism, questioning if it would have happened to a woman.

Zash-Ketchum commented: "Very true. But if I was the father in this situation I would be so thankful that some random person had the courage to follow their instincts (even though they were wrong) and confront would could be a very dangerous man."

Weighing in, Ankyfire wrote: "Man carrying a screaming child. The bystander did right."

"True but at the same time it's the double standard. if it were a woman this probably wouldn't have happened (but definitely good on that dude for looking out for trafficking!)" GryffindorMuggle thought.

Talking to the dad, MorganVacor74 said: "Thank you for taking the time to acknowledge you knew it was for the safety of the child. As someone who spent my entire career in the field of early childhood education, many times parents couldn't see it was about their child and not them. And also thank you for being a good parent and NOT buying the loofahs."

Vladius28 reckoned: "I have so many mixed opinions on this. On the one hand, I'm sure the concern was genuine. On the other, I would feel pretty hurt and borderline victimized if I were in the dad's position."

No-Addendum-3117 asked: "Would they have stopped a woman with a screaming child?"

ARoyaleWithCheese pointed out: "While well-intended, this is practically useless at stopping child abductions. Almost all child abductions are by (one of the) parents or by a family/friend."

And LegitLlama added: "Yeah having a picture with a kid doesn't mean they aren't getting abducted/kidnapped."

From 2010 to 2017, fewer than 350 people under the age of 21 have been abducted, according to the FBI. Figures hit a low of 303 in 2016, to a high or 384 in 2011, Reuters reported.

Amongst the thousands reported missing, most are runaways, which usually account for more than 95 percent of cases. But 0.1 percent are reportedly committed by strangers.

"It doesn't happen very often, but they're certainly the cases that capture our attention because they strike at our worst fears," Robert Lowery, a vice president at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) told Reuters.

Newsweek reached out to Redjohn25 for comment.

File photo of man holding girl's hand.
File photo of man holding girl's hand. A post about a shopper confronting a man with a screaming child has sparked a fierce debate online. Getty Images/mdurson