Paula, at Four Years Old

Four year old Paula was playing in the park, right beside her parents home. She was playing with her friend, Sally.

“Come on Sally,” said Sally’s mother. “It is time to go home.’

“Okay,” said Sally, running to her mother. “Bye Paula.”

“Bye Sally,” waved Paula.

“Make sure you go straight home,” said Sally’s mother to Paula.

“I will,” said Paula.

Paula got up and started to walk towards the gate that separated the park from the laneway that attached to her backyard.

“Hey little girl,” said a man that was standing at the gate.

“Sorry, ” said Paula. “I’m not allowed to talk to strangers.”

Without any warning, the man grabbed a hold of Paula’s hand and placed it underneath his shirt on top of his track pants. Paula quickly moved her hand away and screamed as loud as she could.

“What did you do that for?” asked the man angrily. “I was just trying to have some fun.”

“Mommy told me to never touch anyone there,” said Paula.

“Well did Mommy also teach you to not let anyone touch you there,” said the man, bringing his hands around to the front of Paula’s pants.

Paula kicked the man as hard as she could in the shins. Tears streamed down her face.

“Oh my!” cried Paula’s mothers running out the back door of her house toward Paula and the gate.

The man took off running just as fast as he could.

“Paula!” exclaimed Mother. “Did that man touch you?”

Paula sobbed uncontrollably. Her mother picked her up and consoled her. She ran into the house with Paula and once there, she ran throughout the whole house, closing and locking every window and door.

“Okay honey,” said Mother, running her hand over the side of Paula’s face. “You are safe now.”

“Oh Mommy!” cried Paula. “That man was so naughty.”

“Paula,” said Mother. “Do you remember when we had our little talk about two months ago?”

“I think so,” said Paula.

“And what was our special code?” asked Mother.

“To tell the truth,” said Paula.

“Good girl,” said Mother. “Now, you and I are going to get a drink of juice and then you are going to tell Mommy the truth.”

Paula told her Mother the complete truth about what happened in the park with that man. Paula repeated the same story to the police officer that showed up within ten minutes after Mother called them.

“So you are saying the man had track pants on,” said the police officer.

“Yes,” said Paula.

“Do you remember what colour they were?” asked the officer.

“Dark green,” said Paula. “He also had holes in both knees.”

“Paula,” said the officer. “We have a man in the cruiser right now that matches that description.”

“You do,” said Mother.

“Yes,” said the officer. “We just picked him up on the other side of the park.”

“I can identify the man,” said Mother. “I caught a quick glance of him as he ran away when I came out to get Paula.”

Mother went over to the cruiser with the officer.

“That is him,” said Mother after a quick look at the man through the window of the cruiser.

“You are sure of that,” said the officer.

“I would never forget that face,” said Mother.

The officer went back into the house. He wanted to speak with Paula one more time before he left.

“Now Paula,” said the officer. “I want you to know that you were a very brave little girl today. Also, you did nothing wrong. You did exactly what your Mother taught you to do in a situation like this.”

“Yes,” said Mother. “You have no reason to feel ashamed . You did everything you were supposed to.

“I even told the truth,” smiled Paula.

“You sure did,” said Mommy, giving Paula a nice big hug.

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