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so embarrassing, social workers detained me in the subway threatening to call the police

post #1 of 87
Thread Starter 
This is so embarassing. I was on the way to an attachment parenting meeting too. I was in the subway with my two kids in a stroller.

What i did: (and i dont condone it, but it wasnt that bad).
Threw 2 yo ds' coat at him, and said in a raised, stern voice-stop throwing your coat out of the stroller! I put my hand on him very lightly which would have looked like a push, a very light one. I didnt actually push or hit him, because i dont believe in doing things like that. I do not hit or push my kids. Yes, I should not have raised my voice, shouldnt have put my hand on him in a threatening way, shouldnt have thrown the coat at him (it would not have hurt) ...should have kept my calm after he had thrown his coat out of the stroller for the nth time.

Here's what happened next-two women came over to me saying they were social workers and that they were mandated reporters. One woman said she wanted to talk to me.

The thing is, i was in a hurry as it was. I wasnt in the mood for a lecture from a total stranger, telling me things i already know and believe. First mistake.

I said, im in a hurry, sorry, i dont have time to listen to you.

She grabbed my stroller and wouldnt let me go. She then threatened to call the police.

Wow! I was so incensed, my blood boiling. Has anyone stopped you like that, effectively detaining you? A total stranger? Are social workers allowed to do that?

I raised my voice to her, and said let go of my stroller!
She said, alright, ill call the police then.

In the meantime, both boys , 2 and 5, start crying.

I said to her, you are making them cry. You must let go of my stroller, you have no right to do this!

So i asked my son, why are you crying. He says, mommy, i want to go.
See! I said to her, you mare making him cry, please let us go.

She said, you could make him say anything,
and then said, i cant let you go until you calm down.
I said, i understand what youre trying to do, but you are not helping here.

Eventually, they let me go only after i had to stand there and pretend to not be extremely incensed at them, and simply not say anything at all

As i left, i said, you are abusing your power.

So they followed me to the elevator, I said, stop following me!
One of them kept threatening to call the police, the other one seemed smarter, and just said, have a nice day.

I cant believe this happened. What do you think?

(flame me if you like for losing my cool with my 2yo, maybe i should have just listened to the social worker, but do i have a legal obligation to do so? )
post #2 of 87
You poor thing. I'm so sorry that happened!

Your story has angered me a little, as I so clearly remember what it was like to watch people truly be physically and verbally abusive to their little ones on the train in NYC, while knowing that saying something was likely to escalate the violence.

I don't know what they hope to accomplish by taking such an aggressive tactic- if you're a good parent who is caught in a bad moment, or a lousy parent caught in a normal moment, I don't think anyone is likely to respond well to such bullying. I *know* there are kids who desperately need non-parental advocates, but it seems like an awful idea to approach it like that.



eta: If anyone encounters something like this, call the police yourself! No one who isn't a law enforcement officer has the right to unlawfully detain you!
post #3 of 87
I hope you don't get flamed for it... but that sounds like an altogether horrible experience... I hope everyone is feeling better now
post #4 of 87
I'm pretty sure social worker or not, she had no right to grab at any part of you or your children. I personally would have said "if you don't release my stroller holding my child, I will call the police to report you for attempted assault & battery". Nothing you did was illegal...people are allowed to yell at their children. And tossing a coat? Ok, unless you wailed it at him and the zipper hit his eye, I can't see that as abusive. A bit out of control, possibly, but abusive, no. And unless they showed you their badges, they could have been any wackadoodles...why on earth would you have any reason to believe 2 random strangers claiming to be social workers actually were.
post #5 of 87
If someone was trying to physically restrain me from moving (by grabbing the stroller containing my children), I'd probably be the one threatening to call the police.

Seriously! I mean, it's not like you were hitting your kid! Were they really going to say "Hey, officer, we have a woman who threw a coat over here. Take her to the slammer."

I mean, it's unfortunate that you lost your temper, but that happens to everyone from time to time... I would understand if the parent had like, hauled off and slapped a kid across the face. But getting upset about a coat is hardly grounds for police intervention *rolls eyes*... I would have been tempted to tell them that if they don't get their hands off me and my kids I would be calling the police to report them.
post #6 of 87
I seriously doubt they were real social workers. Real ones would have (should have) at the very least, given you a name and a business card, and actually should have called the police if they thought there was need. Real social workers wouldn't have handled it like that.

I'm sorry they did that to you.
post #7 of 87
I can see how it might have looked from their side of the fence. Someone who is a mandated reporter felt that this was a moment to intervene in what she perceived as a situation of potential danger to a child. We've all seen less-than-stellar parenting moments when out and about (witness all the "Should I have said something?" threads.) So she wanted to talk to you. So far, so good.

However. The manner in which she spoke, the way she grabbed your stroller and the threats to call the police, and the fact that she followed you, were way out of line. The woman had no business doing that.
post #8 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kelly1101 View Post

Seriously! I mean, it's not like you were hitting your kid! Were they really going to say "Hey, officer, we have a woman who threw a coat over here. Take her to the slammer."
Haha! Right? I'd love to see that. It would never happen.

I've been there a few times with the whole being overwhelmed, in public, judged by random strangers and I know how awful it feels. Don't beat yourself up over it. I swear it's always the 2-year-olds that make me feel overwhelmed.
post #9 of 87
Can we make a law that social workers must have children of their own? Mothers get angry at their toddlers. Tossing a coat at your kid is hardly abuse. Seriously, this is why I never show anger towards my toddler in public. I'm afraid of some busy body calling the police. It happened to my mom once when my four year old brother ran across the street and almost got hit by a car. She freaked and picked him up and yelled at him and someone called the cops on her for abuse! The cop let her go immediately but still. I would be very angry if I were you. I'd like to see those social workers wrangle two young children on the subway! OP I'm so sorry this happened to you!
post #10 of 87
Thread Starter 
The thing is, im always on the side of someone interfering to help a child. When there really is abuse going on, what is the best course of action? All i know is, being spoken to by a random stranger, when youre feeling angry and in a hurry (like i was) is the last thing you need.
I thought about it later, and i wouldnt have minded (in the name of principle) if she walked along beside me while i went to the elevator, saying something like, 'when you feel this angry, take a deep breath, its hard dealing with 2yo's, but throwing his coat at him, and raising your voice doesnt help....etc etc etc', i dont know. I wouldnt have minded, only because i agree that she was trying to help in principle, even if her advice would have been annoying, because ive heard it before.

Sigh...thanks for your words of support.

I wanted to call the police on her too, but basically, i just wanted to get out quickly, and not waste more time.
post #11 of 87
I would not believe anyone claiming to be any authority figure without ID shown. And even if they were social workers, they would have no legal right to do what they did. I am sorry you went through that.
post #12 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by Irishmommy View Post
I seriously doubt they were real social workers. Real ones would have (should have) at the very least, given you a name and a business card, and actually should have called the police if they thought there was need. Real social workers wouldn't have handled it like that.

I'm sorry they did that to you.
I also don't think for a minute they were social workers. They were strangers who lied and tried to force themselves on you and make you feel like crap.

Just to make you feel better, I've had strangers try to interfere with my parenting before. One guy said he was on some "safety committee" I'd never heard of and tried to tell me that my child shouldn't be doing what he was doing (standing in a grocery cart which was not moving...he was there so I could hold him while I was talking with a friend.) Then, I was walking around with my 3mo daughter in a bucket. She usually wasn't in one outside the car, but I didn't want to wake her for a quick trip. The woman kept telling me that my daughter shouldn't be int here and that it was bad for her She was following me around and I was very uncomfortable...unlike my sleeping daughter.

I've never had anyone restrain me. That's ridiculous that they were trying to gain power over yo with a made-up "authority." Even a real social worker would not have the authority to restrain you.
post #13 of 87
I am also a mandated reporter and what you did does not seem worthy of threatening to report. That woman's reaction was way over the top. My reaction when I see a mom exasperated is to offer any help that I can. In your case, I may have held the elevator door and smiled at you. To be honest, I may have stayed close to you for a moment to make sure nothing escalated, but sometimes the kindness of a stranger can turn your whole day around.
post #14 of 87
I'd say it isn't the fact that they intervened, it was how they did it. They could have made the initial approach with some sympathy and humour instead of being so confrontational. I would think truly professional social workers would know that it's easy for a situation to escalate, particularly when they are being stickybeaks with strangers. They recognized that you were under stress. Confronting and accusing wasn't likely to defuse the situation at all. A sympathetic comment and a little understanding would have been enough to remind a stressed mom to step back from the situation a little and maintain her cool.

If she is a social worker, then it doesn't sound like she's a particularly good or effective professional.
post #15 of 87
Wow, I'm sorry that happened to you. I think all of us have been there with being frustrated with a toddler and being a little harsher than we otherwise should - but it in no way is the same as endangering or abusing your child. I think what a real social worker in that situation might do is talk to you calmly "Wow, I can see you're frustrated. that age can be hard. Do you need some help getting your kids and stroller off the subway?" etc and struck up a conversation like that. Or, as a PP said, stay close and watch and listen to see if things seemed to be escalating. As others have said, I doubt they were really social workers. If something like that happens again, you should be the one to call the police.
post #16 of 87
I can see them intervening if it seems like you're not able to keep your cool, but I think that they went about it the wrong way.
post #17 of 87
I don't think they were social workers. If they are i am AFRAID for this world! Throwing a coat is abuse now? I would have called the police myself just to see how they handled my being accosted by strangers for throwing a coat. I am not saying one CANNOT do harm - if you whipped at a face with a zipper or something...but tossing a coat at a kid and telling them to hold onto it...nope, sorry, i think they were stickybeaks, frightening ones at that!
post #18 of 87
You should have asked for id and then said you were calling the police. Physically touching you or your children is assault. I would think physically detaining you would be too.
post #19 of 87
I find the most helpful strangers are the ones who make silly faces at dd when she's acting up or getting bored. I've had people do that when I'm in line at the grocery store. The best is when total strangers dance around like a monkey . that way they are showing you that they like children and that they are trying to help lighten up a stressful situation.
post #20 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by ssh View Post
You should have asked for id and then said you were calling the police. Physically touching you or your children is assault. I would think physically detaining you would be too.
I believe that physically detaining and preventing someone from leaving, at all, could be considered abduction, but I'm not positive on that point.
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