In the vein of reporting things one isn't sure about...
When my oldest son was 3, we were out at dinner at a Lone Star Steakhouse-- myself and husband, our 1YO daughter, and my father. During the grownup conversation, we didn't notice that our 3YO had turned around in the booth and was pitching French fries at the people at the booth behind ours. When the man pointed it out (very nicely), we were very apologetic and my husband took James out of the restaurant to "discuss" the incident with him (NOT the first incident of bad behavior that evening). What he did was, he took him out front, in full view of the public, got up in his face, and yelled at him. Was it dramatic? Undoubtedly. Was it abuse? Absolutely not. It was a lot of the "THAT BEHAVIOR IS UNACCEPTABLE... YOU WILL NOT BEHAVE THAT WAY, AM I CLEAR" stuff that we often say, except louder and under stress. No name-calling, no cursing.
Some "well-intentioned" onlooking woman decided to intervene. She started yelling at my husband and trying to confront him about the way he was talking to our son. He dodged and ignored her and brought James back into the restaurant, where he behaved like an angel for the remainder of the evening.
Which was a good thing, because the cops showed up at our table about ten minutes later. Yes, in the middle of Lone Star Steakhouse. They told us they had a complaint that a man was abusing a child in front of the restaurant. My husband accompanied them outside, where he explained his philosophy of parenting and, by his description, bored them to death until they decided the complaint was frivolous and let him go.
Here is what the woman saw: A 5'10" red-faced man in a military-type crew cut getting up in the face of an adorable three-foot-tall blond preschooler, speaking in a raised, angry voice. Based on that, she made assumptions about our parenting and our son's need for help-- the same way people on this board are extrapolating how other parents must be behaving generally based on them yelling at their kids getting into a van. So she called THE POLICE in an effort to "save" our son.
The reality is that neither myself or my husband has ever raised so much as a finger to any of our children.... that we rarely even yell at them, which is why my husband pulled out the yelling in that instance-- because he knew it would be highly effective. That we have a very loving home and spend lots of time together having family pizza parties on the family room floor while watching kiddie movies. That our kids show compassion and love for each other because that is what is modeled to them-- to the point where people frequently ask me, "do your kids EVER fight?"
My point is that you can see examples of bad moments in parenting all over the place, but you should never assume that the screen-shot you're seeing actually represents the whole movie, or even a whole scene in the movie.
A friend of mine, who is a loving and deeply thoughtful parent, has a 5YO son with severe eczema she has been trying to treat in every possible way since the day he was born. He is also very thin, for other medical reasons, and has open sores from the eczema. She literally lives in a constant low-level state of fear that someone will call CPS on her because of the way her son looks. This is not a good way to have to live-- in fear of well-intentioned meddlers.
Would I ever call CPS? Absolutely I would... I have a neighbor who I believed was mentally ill and whose parenting I felt, over a series of months, was sketchy at best. The reason I *didn't* call was because I talked to his daughter's teacher and she told me she'd already called, and they had paid several visits and were involved. I think people should get involved if they have solid reasons to.... but should think twice if it's, as I said before, a screen-shot. IMHO.