4-year-old boy summons police to check out his toys

Category: Education/Family


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. needless to say / ˈnid lɪs tu seɪ / (idiom) – used to say that something is expected and not surprising

    The house is very old. Needless to say, it needs repairs.

  2. emergency dispatcher / ɪˈmɜr dʒən si dɪˈspætʃ ər / (n.) – a person who answers emergency calls and instructs police, medical staff, and firefighters on where to go

    When an emergency dispatcher answers your call, you should give your name, location, and the details of the incident.

  3. nature / ˈneɪ tʃər / (n.) – the type or kind of something

    I went to Hawaii last month, but the nature of my trip was purely business. My company sent me there.

  4. intervene / ˌɪn tərˈvin / (v.) – to involve oneself in something to control what happens

    The students stopped fighting after the teacher intervened.

  5. grown-up / ˈgroʊnˌʌp / (n.) – an adult

    I only allow my children to go to the mall when there’s a grown-up with them.


Read the text below.

In Japan, the police emergency number is 110. In New Zealand, it’s 111. Needless to say, in both countries, that number should not be dialed unless the caller is in real trouble. Last month, however, New Zealand Police posted a story on social media about a boy who dialed 111. They said it was “too cute not to share.”

One day in late October, an emergency dispatcher picked up an incoming call from the South Island city of Invercargill. She asked the nature of the emergency and the person at the other end of the line hesitated before starting a conversation with her in an adorable voice: “Hi … police lady…?” “Can I tell you something?” “I’ve got some toys for you.” “Come over and see them!”

At this point the boy’s father intervened, explaining that this was not an emergency call, and that the boy had called by mistake while he had been busy with his other child. The boy’s mother was sick and he was helping his father out. Nevertheless, the dispatcher decided to alert patrol cars in the area. An officer identified as Constable Kurt from the Southern District Police responded. He went to the boy’s house and was shown an array of toys that he confirmed “were indeed very cool.” Constable Kurt then treated the boy to a tour of his patrol car and they took a photo together, with the boy sitting on the hood. He also had a friendly chat with the boy and his father about using 111 only for emergency situations.

Small children interact with the world differently from adults. Often, grown-ups can’t be bothered to take time for the little ones among them. But an emergency dispatcher and a police constable in New Zealand took the boy seriously and attended to his request with kindness and professionalism. The encounter is probably something the little boy will remember for a very long time. (The Japan Times)

This article was provided by The Japan Times Alpha.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • Emergency numbers should not be dialed unless the caller is in real trouble. Do you think those who dial it without a valid reason should receive a penalty? If yes, should there be exceptions (ex. when it was dialed by accident)? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • In your opinion, what situations should be considered as a real emergency (ex. theft, heart attack)? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • Instead of reprimanding the boy, the police took the time to interact with him. If you were the police, how would you have responded to the boy’s call? Why? Discuss.
  • The article said that grown-ups often can’t be bothered to take time for the little ones among them, but the emergency dispatcher and police constable treated the boy with kindness and professionalism. In your opinion, how should adults interact with young children? When children commit mistakes, should adults be stricter or more understanding? Why? Discuss.