Dispatch The Parents’ Rights

, , , , | Legal | December 30, 2018

(It’s a busy night at the 112 call centre, with calls coming in nonstop. I answer the next call.)

Me: “Good evening, police—“

(A small voice interrupts me.)

Child: “Where’s Mommy?”

(She sounds no older than three or four years old. Mostly when small children call, they are playing with the house phone. The child starts crying.)

Child: “I don’t know where Mommy is!”

(In the background I can hear a baby crying.)

Me: “What’s your name?”

Child: “[Child].”

Me: “Hello, [Child]; who do I hear crying?”

Child: “That’s my brother; he’s still very tiny.”

Me: “Sweetie, are you sure Mommy isn’t home? Is Daddy home?”

Child: *sobbing* “I can’t find them anywhere!”

Me: “[Child], just stay on the telephone. I’ll help you, and together we’re going to find Mommy. Where do you live?”

Child: *whispers the name of a Dutch city*

Me: “Do you know what street you live on?”

Child: “No.”

(The baby has stopped crying. While I keep chatting with [Child] about her teddy bear, I ask a colleague to trace the call. The phone number is registered to an address in the city [Child] mentioned. I dispatch the nearest surveillance car to check on [Child].)

Me: “[Child], could you please go upstairs and look out the window? Do you see a police car?”

Child: “No.”

(The surveillance car checks in to tell me the former inhabitants of the address we found have recently moved and the neighbours don’t know their new address. While I am on the phone with [Child], a colleague gets a call from a man who sees a small child in the window of a house with no lights on. Concerned, he’d rung the doorbell, but no one answered. My colleague immediately sends the surveillance car to the address.)

Me: “[Child], do you know how to read?”

Child: “No. Wait, I see a police car!”

Me: “Can you open the door for the police and give them the telephone?”

Child: “Yes.”

Officer: “We’ve got them. The parents aren’t home. We’ll take them with us.”

(Later that night the parents came to pick up the two children. They had been to the movies. They couldn’t get a babysitter but thought the kids would be okay alone because they usually sleep through the night. The parents got a very stern talking-to and child protection services were notified.)

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