Friday, April 15, 2016

Community scrutiny...

The past two years of living in the Stuttgart military community (for the second time) has been very interesting.  This is the first place I have lived in my thirteen years of marriage where many people are connected by Facebook, simply because they are Americans who happen to live in the same area. When we lived in Stuttgart the first time, Facebook wasn't really all that popular.  I didn't even join until we'd been in Germany for a year.  Consequently, I knew very few people the first time we lived here.  We had a totally different lifestyle as a result, mainly because we lived in town with no other Americans.

We still live in a town with almost no other Americans around... none that I know of, anyway.  And yet now I know a lot of Americans thanks to Facebook.  I am aware of the drama that goes on with people living on the military installations because it gets posted on Facebook.  When you have a lot of Americans from different walks of life living in close quarters within the same community, you end up with plenty of drama.

This morning, I read about a young girl who was seen abusing her dog on a local military installation.  The person who posted on Facebook described the incident and what the girl looked like, as well as the dog who was allegedly being abused.  A lot of people seemed to take up the proverbial pitchforks and condemn the kid, who was described as being around ten years old.  While many were upset about the animal abuse, some mentioned that the dog could lash out and bite, which could lead to the dog's ultimate destruction.  Dogs that bite can often end up in serious trouble.

Then one person commented that perhaps it would be better to have a conversation with the girl's parents instead of immediately calling the authorities.  He wrote that now people are on a witch hunt, looking for a kid who hits her German Shepherd.  It's possible the parents need to be notified so they can supervise their child better.  On the other hand, there could be a reason why the girl is hitting the dog and it could involve her parents and possible child abuse.  The kid could even end up in serious trouble with them for drawing attention to herself to the extent that she got highlighted on Facebook.  

Since I don't live on an installation, it's unlikely that I'll ever see the child in question or her long suffering dog.  But I sure do know about it now.  Everybody else in the community does, too.  There are going to be people living on the installation looking for the girl with cell phones at the ready.  Given that German Shepherds and ten year old girls aren't necessarily uncommon sights on military installations, now every family that happens to have a kid that age and a dog of that type is going to be under suspicion.  Vaguely calling someone out like that on Facebook can have major unintended consequences.

I guess community scrutiny is kind of a double edged sword.  It can be very comforting to know that you live in a community where people are watching out for each other.  Most people truly do have good intentions.  On the other hand, when everybody's watching, things can get blown out of proportion and people can end up in serious trouble with the law.  

I think the lady who wrote the original post meant well.  It's hard to know what to do in a situation like this.  The girl's parents could be perfectly reasonably people or they could be criminals.  One would hope they wouldn't be criminals, given that they live on a military installation.  But criminal acts happen all the time on military reservations.  Even with tighter security and community scrutiny, sometimes dangerous people do get access.  I can understand why someone would want to make a report to the cops rather than take things into their own hands.  In some cases, it's a matter of personal safety.  

As for this young girl in our community, I can't say why she was hitting her dog.  There's a chance that she was hitting her because that was what she was taught to do.  It could even be that her parents are abusive.   Or it could be that the child is naturally aggressive and doesn't know her own strength.  Either way, I hope something is done.  This does seems like a situation where it would be good to know if something is wrong at home.  The dog may be the girl's only friend.  Or the girl may be the type of person who shouldn't be around animals.  Either way, it sounds like the child and her dog need an intervention of sorts from someone who cares.    


  1. It's a tough situation. in absence of knowing anything about the girl, I feel mostly for the poor dog.

    1. The people in question are apparently being dealt with by the MPs.


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