Hot Button Alert!
I would ask myself "Was I true to myself? Was I setting an example that I would want my children to witness and model? Was I initiating harm against anyone? Was I acting to protect another from harm?" Then what you did was right in *your* heart.
I would have done the same thing.
Only, I would and have spoken directly to the individual initially *BECAUSE* I choose to model the power of public dissent and non-violence to our son. I would have just said "Stop! You are hurting that child! Stop! Hitting children teaches them to hit. Stop! Stop hurting that child!" And if it had escalated to the event that you experienced, I would call 911 and report that a huge man is repeatedly hitting a child and the child is crying and cringing and there is a hysterical woman with him. Let them discuss their "discipline" with the police and see if they are as apt to hit their children in public again.
Now, if I merely saw a family in distress, I would and have intervened to diffuse the situation by empathizing with them. But, I know that if I saw a child being struck, I would be so angry that I would speak up for the child
. Because I was that child and there is nothing that would keep me from voicing what is in that child's heart "STOP! STOP! STOP!". I have no fear of my child seeing me intervening on behalf of a child, ever. I do not fear the 6' 2" man. Not any longer.
I have taken an oath, literally, on the www.NoSpank.net
site to intervene if I ever see a child hit by an adult. Hitting a child is assault. An environment without recourse where a child is repeatedly subjected to being hit, is abuse. Period.
Btw, the NoSpank site has many practical suggestions on how to verbally intervene when a child is hit, which may help others to become comfortable doing so. I believe to say nothing is condoning the public display of violence against children. And yes, Texas still has corporal punishment in schools, as do 21 others states in the US. I am actively working to abolish corporal punishment in schools locally, statewide and nationally.
Here is a link to find out if your state still has the archaic and barbaric practice of corporal punishment in schools. And what you can do to help! http://www.stophitting.com/disatschool/