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On April 2 at 12:30 p.m., I witnessed an adult male physically abuse his son, who was about two years old; a second, seven- or eight-year-old son was also present at the Wave House in Mission Beach, where this incident occurred.

The approximately 6’1”, 220-pound man, with sandy neck-length hair, was dressed in jeans and a beige T-shirt. The younger child, whose face was wrinkled with a sort of desperation (as though his day had already been a long one), walked away from the man as the three were entering the Wave House membership office. The man turned and grabbed the child by his arm and carried him — by one arm — approximately eight feet into the membership office and thrust him into a chair.

The sobbing child got up from the chair and the man grabbed him again, squeezing his arms just below the shoulders, and thrust him back into the chair. Through glass, I could see the man yelling at the child, his face close to the boy’s face, as he squeezed his arms and shook him. I was unable to hear what he was saying.

As the man exited the building with the children, I shared my concerns with a Wave House employee and requested the man’s name so I could report the incident to the county’s Department of Health and Human Services.


“I’ll have to check our policies,” said the employee, Tom Stone.

He returned shortly to inform me that the company’s privacy policy would not allow him to share the man’s identity with me. I gave Stone my name, phone number, and email and requested that he report the incident, on my behalf. Stone stated that he would.

I then followed up with a call to the Child Abuse Prevention hotline. My call revealed a flaw in their system: the department had no way of confirming whether or not a complaint had been filed. My name and phone number failed to show up in any reports.


Next, I called the San Diego Police Department and spoke with a dispatcher named Scott. I asked if the SDPD could call the Wave House and obtain the perpetrator’s name so that a report could be filed with the county. The dispatcher informed me that due to privacy laws, they would not be able to provide me with the perpetrator’s name, even if they were able to obtain it, which he doubted would be the case.


Margo Fudge, a Health and Human Services media representative, told me, “Thank you for doing what you have. You’ve probably spent several hours of your day trying to report this incident. A lot of people are afraid to make reports or just don’t bother. Sometimes it’s difficult to learn identities. But, we rely on the community to protect these kids.”

Fudge stated that her department investigates over 100 child-abuse calls daily; 70,000 calls annually.

The police department suggests that those who witness an incident of child abuse call the police as it is happening. The call can be made anonymously. If the parties are leaving, follow them to their vehicle and obtain the vehicle’s license-plate number.

“While I agree with you that child safety should trump privacy laws, it doesn’t at the moment,” said an SDPD representative. “Doesn’t look like there’s a whole lot we can do if you don’t have the guy’s name or license number.”

The SDPD has placed a call to the Wave House requesting a return call from Stone.

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Comments

SurfPuppy619 April 4, 2010 @ 3:56 p.m.

Wow, that is a tough one. A 911 call seems to be the only other alternative.

If you see that kind of abuse again-911 it.

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MsGrant April 4, 2010 @ 5:05 p.m.

On Friday, while walking in OB, I witnessed three dogs locked in a car in scalding conditions. The owner was surfing. Many people, including myself, went up to the car to see why these dogs were barking so loudly. Everyone was astounded to see three dogs panting and obviously in distress but not a single person did anything about it. I continued my walk until I could take it no longer. I walked back once, was told by someone that there was a police officer around, and upon going to the site of same said non-existent PO I went back to the car. The dogs were by now laying low in the seats, trying to conserve what little resources they had left. I called animal control. While I did this, I was threatened by other surfers to "get away from that car". I can identify with this post because so many people were unwilling to get "involved". As if saving lives is something to be embarrassed by. I was looked upon as the bad guy until I called. The person that took my call told me "you did the right thing". When I explained that I was surrounded by people threatening me because I was breaking some awful code of surfer "ethics" she reminded me to ignore the ignorance of those who preach much and practice little.

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SDaniels April 4, 2010 @ 5:23 p.m.

Grant, my heroine too xoxoxox

What happened with the dogs?

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MsGrant April 4, 2010 @ 5:34 p.m.

I don't know. I was told they would call me if they needed details. But by the nature of the person receiving the call, help was on its way.

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antigeekess April 4, 2010 @ 7:13 p.m.

SuperG! :D You rock, Grant! Da doggies thank you for your concern and going the extra mile!

http://bpe.eanes.k12.tx.us/images/permanent/thank%20you%20dog.gif

"The police department suggests that those who witness an incident of child abuse call the police as it is happening. The call can be made anonymously. If the parties are leaving, follow them to their vehicle and obtain the vehicle’s license-plate number."

Exactly. This is what should have been done in this case.

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PB92109 April 5, 2010 @ 8:33 p.m.

Ms Grant- thanks for your actions. Animal Control often takes hours to respond. In a case like this, if you ever see this happen again, get a rock or brick and break the car's side window to let some air in and get the poor dogs a bowl of water. Don't endanger yourself doing this but this was an extreme emergency and the law is on your side.

Also the San Diego Humane Society is a private organization (not for profit) that has more resources than Animal Control and they could probably have sent an investigator there right away-- they are empowered to take action in case of animal cruelty.

There is a law against leaving dogs in the car like this and I am astonished that a dog lover would do this to his/her dogs. Just because it was cloudy when they left the car does not mean it won't be sunny and hot when the gloom burns off. Even cracking the windows is often not enough. Shame on this thoughtless dog owner!

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MsGrant April 6, 2010 @ 8:35 a.m.

Yes, I was pretty astonished to see it. And actually, it was on Saturday that this happened (I have my days mixed-up) and it got really warm here around noon. The sun was shining and there was very little breeze. The windows were only cracked maybe an inch. What really got me upset was that NO one would do anything. Then I started to doubt my own actions, like was I over-reacting? Should I just mind my own business? Even my husband, who knows me, was kind of shying away, saying something along the lines of "they'll be back soon. We should get back home". (We were hosting dinner for 15 that night.) I actually started to walk home, and I was crying tears of frustration and I said "NO, I am going back to that car!" When a couple of the regulars at this particular surf point saw me talking on my cell and giving the license plate number to animal control, they got hostile and said things like "that's not cool" and "get away from that car". How can people just stand by and not do anything? I was being made to feel like the bad guy! Like I should be embarrassed for getting involved. Standing up for what is right is not always the easiest thing to do. You would think it would be. Sometimes you have to be willing to embarrass yourself and take a stand. Reporting cruelty of any kind is our duty, and nothing to be ashamed of.

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CuddleFish April 6, 2010 @ 11:24 a.m.

"Sometimes you have to be willing to embarrass yourself and take a stand. Reporting cruelty of any kind is our duty, and nothing to be ashamed of."

Quite right, MsG. Good for you for knowing that.

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MsGrant April 6, 2010 @ 12:14 p.m.

It's not easy. I've always been hard-wired to those in distress and it's almost gotten my ass kicked. I can't stop myself. I just can't stand to see any creature suffer.

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antigeekess April 6, 2010 @ 12:17 p.m.

Right on, Grant.

What a bunch of mob-mentality p*ssies Americans have become. Bunch of cowardly twerps telling you "That's not cool," as if being "cool" was something a grownass woman needs to worry about.

But you'll never need to worry about that anyway, G-Dawg.

http://www.lolblog.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/cooldog.jpg

:)

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MsGrant April 6, 2010 @ 12:34 p.m.

Exact word I wanted to scream at all those people side-stepping the angry surfer-dude - COWARDS! All these people kept looking into the car and then scurrying away when he and the others would hiss at them. I'm barely 5' 4" and I was ready to take this guy on if I had to. This is what happens. No one wants a confrontation. I do not go looking for fights. That is stupid and could get you killed. But child and animal abuse is unbearable to witness and is inflicted on the innocent and people need to step up when they see it.

Thanks, Anti. Cool Dog is way cool!!

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jmtrudeau April 6, 2010 @ 1:04 p.m.

I really do not see this as a case of child abuse. Carrying a child by their arm for a short distance will not hurt them and restaining them to the chair while they're attempting to run around amuck should be applauded and I wish more parents would take charge like this father has.

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Evelyn April 6, 2010 @ 1:53 p.m.

Why call Child Support Services?

The number should have been Child Protection Services... or the cops as so many people have said.

National CPS Hotline: 1-800-244-6000 San Diego CPS: 1-858-560-2191

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antigeekess April 6, 2010 @ 5:59 p.m.

Re #15:

http://yovia.com/blogs/davidappelman/files/2009/10/troll-web.jpg

I personally don't think morons, imbeciles, or idiots should be fed either. (At least, not on message boards or blogs.)

I might crack the window for one on a hot day, though.

:)

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CuddleFish April 6, 2010 @ 6:43 p.m.

LOLOLOL@AG's "might" -- sistah girl!!! :))

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MsGrant April 6, 2010 @ 7:16 p.m.

Yeah, I would consider the source first, too!!

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Altius April 13, 2010 @ 2:42 p.m.

Interesting how a story about saving children from abuse turns into saving dogs. Sign of the times?

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MsGrant April 13, 2010 @ 3:41 p.m.

No, it was meant to point out that people often look the other way when confronted with cruelty rather than get involved. The dog situation was an example, not a rather than.

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