I am tasked with delivering news here that leaves me with a heavy heart. A man who has been a member of the Lego fan community both online and in person, and who works teaching Lego at a school has been arrested and charged with molesting children. Many of us know this man, and I’m sure many readers have opinions on his guilt, but I am not going to name him, because a media trial is not my objective.
I write here not to weigh the guilt of the accused, who in our justice system is presumed innocent, unless, and until, proven guilty. I think it is important for Lego hobbyists to address this news head on, as there are lessons to be learned by us all, regardless of the truth of the allegations. Regardless of the guilt or innocence of the accused, we are left with a great deal to think carefully about.
Choosing a child’s toy as the basis of one’s hobby leads to a great deal of interactions with children. As members of Lego fan clubs, as well as organizers and attendees of Lego fan events, we need to be aware that children are not the only people our events may attract. When dealing with large crowds at our events, we should watch for more than just small hands grabbing for Lego creations.
I am not advocating that we live in paranoia, or engage in witch hunts, but we should also not ignore warning signs that we see around us. We should also be careful about scheduling activities that would leave children isolated with only one or a handful of adults, even if that adult is someone we know in our community of fans.
In addition to being aware of the risks that children may face from unscrupulous attendees of our conventions or immoral members of our groups, we must consider that any one of us may be ripe for false accusation. Just as we are careful not to leave children alone with other adults, we must avoid those same situations ourselves. This is a lesson that has been learned by the teaching community over and over again.
We must all be vigilant to protect the children around us, as well as ourselves. We must also speak out and make it plain that the sort of conduct alleged to have been committed in this bit of news, or any other harm to children, will NOT be condoned in this community. We will not look the other way, we will not ignore accusations of impropriety or possible warning signs that we may see.
I hope that our readers can join me in a rational discussion of lessons we can take away from this situation. As well as joining me in offering condolences to the children involved, they may have suffered a grave assault, and are definitely caught up in a situation that will follow them the rest of their lives.