I had my doubts about the young Scarborough girl's account of having her hijab cut by a stranger from the get go.
Now the police confirm it.
The trouble was that her account was in line with what a child would think was a harrowing attack, and yet, although she walked to school with her friends and brother, no one saw the actual attack.
In a world filled with surveillance cameras, I found it curious that police did not release any footage to help identify the person.
I have been studying hoaxes for over twenty years, and I can say that the number of young children that age claiming to be victims of botched abductions on the way to school are numerous. Kids at that age are in a murky area of fantasy life and reality, and one often spills into the other.
I have files on these cases I collected, but these didn't make it into my book because I had to make decisions what to keep and leave out.
They may want attention. They may be bored. The may have done something they weren't supposed to and now need to keep that halo as they cover their tracks. They may be coerced. They may be trying to please someone. They may be rebelling, and with their lack of life experience, they do not get the nuances of life, making their stories reflect their naiveté.
That does not mean every child lies. That's why every case must be investigated.
Journalists jumped on this story, particularly the CBC and the Toronto Star. The Premier of Ontario and even the Prime Minister should have known better, and kept their mouths shut until they got more information.
That is why reflection is more important than reaction.
When the story first hit, the radio report I heard first was on NewsTalk 1010, and then read the account on CBC.ca. Neither one gave enough information to make any determination, but once the Toronto Star had its account, I was very doubtful of the story's veracity, even they were certain it was true. She should have had witnesses given the parameters of the circumstances, but somehow, she didn't.
There would be witnesses. There would be cameras. We'd have something to go on, but there wasn't.
That doesn't mean you dismiss outright, but it does mean investigative work is crucial here.
Every red flag I outline in my book screams in this yarn.
As I have said before, Justin Trudeau immediately jumped on this story, while keeping quiet on atrocities happening to women in Canada every day. In his desperate attempt to hide his male white privilege, he picks the wrong cause to hide it.
I do not know why the girl chose to lie. It's not as uncommon as we think.
However, when an adult male picks on a young girl, the girls usually wind up defiled, tortured, and murdered, like Tori Stafford or Kristen French, or in captivity as slaves like Jaycee Lee Dugard or Elizabeth Smart.
The press, in an attempt to show compassion, just set victims of hate crimes back about ten years. They should not have presented the story the way that they did. You report what you know -- and admit what you do not know. They didn't ask questions. They believed.
And that is not the job of the press. They did the girl no favours, and for this one transgression, it will haunt her for the rest of her life. There are plenty of genuine hate crimes that never get any media coverage.
That means journalists cannot distinguish between the real and the fake because they haven't been exposed to it.
And they should remember that.