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Witnessing abuse. I just don't know what to do. - Page 3

post #41 of 70
Originally Posted by Sierra View Post
It is really hard. Like a previous poster, I have just moved and am confronting this on a scale I've never imagined. I moved from a city on the west coast where that kind of thing is just really unacceptable and wouldn't be tolerated in public, to a city on the east coast where everyone is well invested in the "mind your own business" approach which has allowed people to be awful.

I am a mandatory reporter in my state, so I have to report any abuse I witness or have reasonable cause to believe is occurring. When I don't really have any information on the person, it isn't possible to do much with that. I know some mandatory reporters try to chat it up with someone to find out names or child's school or where they are going or some kind of identifying info. However, I would second that it is a good idea to call the police if you are seeing physical stuff manifesting right in front of you.

That said, yesterday outside my office I was hearing a baby crying and a dad (from the temp shelter currently in the building) repeatedly yelling at the baby to just "shut up!" I was getting so anxious just listening. I finally went out to the room where they were, and I just observed for a couple minutes. Here is what I saw:

The mother was sitting on some stairs, and the baby was plopped down (sitting) on the floor about three feet from her. There were many bigger kids playing around her, and there was an (unpredictable) ball flying everywhere which helped make the baby feel vulnerable. It looked a couple of times like she was trying to scoot to her mom but couldn't get the mobility. That seemed to contribute to her frustation, especially since she seemed like she was needing some comfort. Another baby, who might have been her twin, was crawling around as well. The crying baby was obviously sick. She kept sneezing and all this snot would fly out all over her face, which would make the crying worse. Then her dad would come up behind her and without letting her know he was there, he would reach around and wipe her nose. She was taken by surprise and also hated getting wiped. Meanwhile he would yell at her "Oh, knock it off" when she responded with tears, and then he would proceed to pace around the room telling her to shut up and stop crying as he waited for the next sneeze and interacted with the other kids.

I went and knelt down beside the baby. I crouched as low down as I could so I was on her level and I looked at her and just tried to model what would have been a nurturing response. I said, "Oh sweetie! You sound really upset. What's the matter?" The mother continued to just sit there, and it seemed okay, so I rubbed/patted the baby's back lightly a couple times and said, "You sound so sick baby girl! I'm sorry. I am miserable when I am sick too."

This seemed to really click with the mom and she said, "I know! I've been telling her dad we need to take her to the doctor, but he doesn't want to." So when the dad came back over to wipe her nose again I just repeated, "She sounds so sick, poor thing!" He didn't yell after that, and after asking the mom how old the baby was and telling her she was a very sweet baby, she said thanks and then picked her baby up and went to talk to a friend. It seemed to have difussed the situation.

Sometimes I think ignoring the parents but engaging with the kid works well. It just breaks the tension and occupies both. Other times, I say things to my kids, loud enough for the offender to hear, that I think might help. For example I might have said, "Oh [3 y.o. ds], that baby is crying. She sounds so upset." And then ds pipes in, "What's the matter with her?" And I say, "I don't know, but it looks like she feels really sick. Isn't it crummy when you feel sick. I wonder what would make her feel better?" And then hopefully ds would pipe in that the baby might want to be cuddled or something like that.

Other times I say things to my kids, not really intending to intervene but more because I don't want my kids witnessing that stuff and thinking that it is okay, and it ends up being unintentionally overheard, which can make things better or worse depending on the person. For example, one time this woman was flipping out on her daughter in a parking lot, just screaming in her daughter's face. Sometimes going up and offering to help in situations like that is good, but in this case I got the feeling that wasn't going to fly. ds however, said, "What is she doing?" I told him she seemed really frustrated and was yelling, and I told him that yelling like that isn't okay and that the mommy should do something to calm herself down. I am not sure, but I think she overheard me, and she seemed to at least get a little more reasoned about what she was yelling rather than just hurling insults and calling her daughter names. I think it just reminded her that she was being heard. I've occassionally tried to gently point out reasons for a child's behavior that had become an inappropriate target of the abuse. For example, "He looks so tired! I remember doing that when I was tired when I was a kid too. Is it almost naptime?"

In extreme situations I've been known to say, "You should know that I'm a mandatory reporter" (not sure if you want to use it if you aren't, but maybe when you are desperate). Or just "whoah!" and then flashing an alarmed look their way to let them know, "I just saw that, and you were way out of line."

I gotta say though, like you, I often freeze up and regret it later. I totally empathize!

Though your post was to the OP, it really touched me. I learned soooooooooooo much from you tonight. These are very constructive ways to handle things, and I'd like to implement your strategies in my own life.

I do know what you mean about the mind your own business attitude. I really do have a hard time minding my business. I can't tell you how many times I called the police on people just to make sure things were okay. The county cops know me pretty well.
post #42 of 70
Originally Posted by carmel23 View Post

I think if you have to ride this bus every day, you have to be aware that someone might try retribution if you do confront them. I would try to anonymously through the public trans. authorities. Can you call the bus company? And tip them off that there is someone being assaulted on the bus, you are afraid to report it for your safety, but need an officer to ride the bus or something to make it stop.

And if it is serious, call the police non-emergency line and talk to them. Get the beat cops name, and call him...

Haven't thought of that but love that suggestion very much. I've usually called the police when the parents were cornered, such as at a bus stop, but I'd do it where I could not be heard. I'll apply this. Thanks.
post #43 of 70
OP, thanks so much, with all my heart, for posting this thread. Not only has it reassured me that I'm not alone with my feelings of anger toward abuse, the responses given here have been helpful as to how I can address these issues to myself. Whether you know it or not, you really helped me so much. Thank you, and thanks so much to all for the great and wonderful advice.
post #44 of 70
Its hard too see/hear some of the stuff that people say and do to their children. A little while ago we moved from California to Japan and its totally different. It seems like 90% of the military families Im around spank/yell/demean their children. Its heartbreaking for me to see and DD gets very, very upset about it. There were times that I had to leave the store because DD was so upset over how somone was treating their child (DD is very sensitive when she thinks someone is hurt or upset).

If someone is honestly struggling I might try helping them. I know several people who mentioned that they don't like seeing children cry. I don't either but I was on an international flight trying to collect my luggage and go through customs. I was pregnant at the time and morning sickness was just aweful. I hadn't been able to keep anything down the entire flight and was so weak because of it. DD was 15 months old at the time and exhausted so she was crying and fussing. I couldn't hold her and grab the luggage so she was at my feet screaming and crying, the looks I got were just aweful. Luckly a nice man who was traveling alone with his toddler was having troubles keeping him still so he offered to get my luggage if I could watch his toddler for him.. His help made it so I could calm DD down and figure out why his son was trying to run around (his son was hungry). Sometimes what you might see as neglect might just be somone struggling to get things done and not have enough hands/energy to do it.

As for straightout abuse- verbal or physical- also remember that stepping in might make it worse for the child once they get home. The parent might get embarrassed and take it out on the child when they return back to their house. Usually, unless its really bad, Ill ignore it because who knows what will happen. I don't want a confortation, especially when I have my daughter with me, and I don't want the child to suffer because of what I did.
post #45 of 70
Originally Posted by Deer Hunter View Post
I do know what you mean about the mind your own business attitude. I really do have a hard time minding my business. I can't tell you how many times I called the police on people just to make sure things were okay. The county cops know me pretty well.
Wow -- this comment kind of gave me the heebie-jeebies, especially after reading that your location was "right behind me."

And I'm not doing anything illegal, either, and I'm certainly not abusing my kids -- but I recently did have someone call CPS on me because of "concerns" they were having about some of my parenting choices, such as homeschooling.

It's all over now, and no case was ever opened -- but I do feel concern that if someone else gets "concerned" and decides to hotline us "just to make sure things are okay" -- well, I wonder if we could end up under more scrutiny because of having been called in before.

So, while I'm not doing anything harmful or illegal, I sincerely hope you're not literally "right behind me."
post #46 of 70
I would say "Wow! It is so stressful being on the bus, isn't it?" and try distract the parent toward a civil adult conversation. Or "You sound sad. Are you ticklish?" to the child, and tickling their toes, or make funny faces.

Generally, empathizing with the parent, before it gets out of hand and they become overwhelmed, helps, ime. Also, engaging the child in a playful manner, helps to de-escalate a situation. I'm always listening out to intervene with an offer to help, before a situation amps up.

That sounds horribly stressful for you and your daughter.

When a man slapped a child (about 5-7 years old) across the face while standing in line at the CVS. I immediately spoke up and said "Please don't hit her. Hitting hurts." He declared that "as long as I don't leave a bruise, I can punish her as much as I want". I didn't know what to say further, I felt horrible for the child, but knew legally he was "right". I felt very intimidated by his stance and didn't challenge him. It was a very helpless feeling. (I was alone.) I sorta feel that I would have felt stronger if ds had been with me. Because I would have been concerned about his experience of witnessing this. *I* felt like a child being reprimanded, interestingly. With ds, I feel much more Mama Bear, I guess. I wish I had spoken about how I had felt as a child when I was punished, but I really felt mentally/emotionally threatened by his stature, voice and body language.

There are some more posts by adult women who remember someone intervening when they were hit as children. This thread has more information and ideas: http://www.mothering.com/discussions...ed#post9780433

HTH, Pat
post #47 of 70
You must be on my bus line (66 anyone)

All I can say is
I ride CTA every day too and I am so upset to see how many parents think it is ok to hit, yell at, threaten or demean their children.

But honestly I am to scared to engage. Where I live you never know who carries a weapon.

We often have CTA cops ride with us but they don't get on until the area gets a little nicer and by then the parent and child(ren) have already gotten off the bus.

And I get it,(based on where I live and where most get on the bus) the parents are stressed out, they most likely work crummy jobs are exhausted when picking up their LOs only to have to deal with rush hour CTA. They are embarrassed that the kid(s) are making noise and react the only way they know how.

I really just wanted to offer support and if you bus line is anything like mine try to move to the back. The strollers can't get back there. I know it doesn't make it go away but at least it helps you cope.
post #48 of 70
Perhaps you could write a letter to a governor of the town of where you live in and explain your situation about the constant abuse you see everyday when riding the bus and suggest them to encourage the city transportation authority to create a banner on each bus which would advocate against the child/women abuse on the bus/train/subway for everyone to see. I have seen a lot of banner like these in DC/MD and VA on the city bus or metro (subway).
post #49 of 70
Originally Posted by Deer Hunter View Post
Haven't thought of that but love that suggestion very much. I've usually called the police when the parents were cornered, such as at a bus stop, but I'd do it where I could not be heard. I'll apply this. Thanks.
Um yeah. As the other poster said, that is a bit scary and creepy. Might want to think about how you're wording things . Hopefully neither you nor anyone as hyper vigilant would flip out on me if I'm having a bad day and raise my voice at my child .
post #50 of 70
Originally Posted by Deer Hunter View Post
I see this also, as I do ride the public bus. There are days that I just bring my Bible alone, or the children's Bible that always gave me comfort, so I can keep myself from jumping up and physically beating the crap out of those parents. I mean, who talks like that to a baby? Who? That children's Bible, because of its sentamental value, has proven to be extremely comforting in trying situations, and I make a practice of bringing it along when I KNOW I will be encountering something like this. It is like a focusing object. It is like something reassuring.

Right now, I'm discussing other outlets with my elders and mature sisters of my faith, as to how I can handle myself in those situations and what I can do when I feel rage coming up. Today, I was talking about this to a girlfriend of mine, and she suggested deep breathing and counting to ten. I know this has helped when I was upset about something: but, I have not had the chance to use it in a situation such as what you are speaking of, as it is new advice. I'm sure I'll have to use it very, very soon, as I'll be riding the public bus this afternoon. I can keep you updated as to how it works.

Thankfully, I've never gotten violent with the parents in these situations though I came pretty close. It helps that I know practically all the bus drivers since our county is small, and when they pull over the bus for break after the passengers are unloaded, I sometimes sit and talk to them and express my feelings. It helps that they listen.

I was abused when I was a little girl, so naturally, this stuff upsets me, especially when it is done to a baby who is helplessly dependent on their parents, and they cannot walk away when they don't like the way they are being treated let alone express it.

I hear you.
post #51 of 70
I witness this sort of thing often and we're not in Chicago but I did want to warn you that if you take some action some thing can happen - as it happened to me, in a park a nanny started hitting a child, I asked her not to do so and all of a sudden I was surrounded by I don't know how many other nannies pushing me around, hitting the back of my head, shouting at me etc no other parent came to my aid - it was really scary not only for me but my child too, we've never been back there, I feel sorry for the kids but I learnt a valuable lesson in that I have to protect my kids and myself first - it may seem harsh but I can't do anything else here. I try to show GD parenting skills when we're out and about, I think the idea of phoning quietly to report to the transportation police or whatever is a great idea and I would do that I reckon, certainly after that which we experienced here. I'm sorry that you had to witness this - how upsetting for you
post #52 of 70
I see similar things on the NYC subway. If it's out and out abuse, and illegal, I call the cops as soon as I exit the station and tell them the subway car number and the direction it was headed. I give my name and number for contact information. 2 times they have called me back to verify descriptions. I didn't regret any of those times, what the parents were doing was not even remotely borderline, it was clearly out of line.
post #53 of 70
I witnessed something like this just yesterday while I was at K-Mart, which I hate, but they sell the overnight diapers we use. So I was there, and there was this lady and her daughter, who looked to be around the same age as my daughter, maybe a little bit older.

the kid was sitting in the cart going wild, not listening to her mom, grabbing stuff, etc. the mom was yelling at her to stop, shut up, etc. and then to my absolute dismay (and apparently to the dismay of other shoppers) hit her child several times. Not swats on the leg, hand, or rear-end, but full on hitting. It was so horrible and inappropriate.

I said, while the lady was well within earshot, to my daughter: "You are SO lucky you have a nice mommy and not a psychopath like that lady" and went on with my shopping.

It must have made her check herself, because she calmed down and shut her loud mouth. That poor baby.

Also in the early summer, my mother and I took my little girl to this really nice park in another town. As we were leaving, we saw this really gross trashy looking woman, her baby, and what we presume was the grandmother. The "mom" was cussing and acting crazy in the parking lot, the BABY (my daughter was 10 months old at the time and the baby looked maybe a year old) was drinking SODA, which he spilled, so the mom flipped out and started screaming and cussing at the child, who was crying really hard at this point. I felt so bad for that baby, I wanted to take him home with me where he would be safe and in a calm environment.

I understand how upsetting this is for you. I raise my daughter in a calm, consistent home, and it drives me crazy to see people treating their children like animals. Parents should know or learn how to take control of a situation with their children but still treat the child with the basic respect and kindness that any living creature deserves.

I hate witnessing bad parenting moments, it's so awkward and gut-wrenching.

Of course I've gotten frustrated with my daughter before, but the key, as with any other situation, is never let them see you sweat. lol. I've been around enough kids to know that things escalate if you let on that you're losing your cool. My daughter has never seen me lose my temper and I'd like to keep it that way.
post #54 of 70
You know, I agree with you that it's really awful how those mothers were treating their children -- but I don't see the need to use adjectives like "psychopath" or "really gross trashy looking," or to capitalize the word "soda" as if any parent who ever lets her child have pop is trash.

Basically, I think the Gentle Discipline attitude should extend even to the parents of the children that we claim we want to help.
post #55 of 70
Oh wow! Thats awful awful awful!

I will never ever forget this one time I went to Zayre (remember those stores?) with my mom when I was about 7 or 8. I saw a woman beat the crap out of her little girl who was already crying really really hard. This was 20+ years ago but I remember it like it happened yesterday. It still haunts me.
post #56 of 70
This sounds unbearable to me. I have no idea what I would do other than call 911 on them, but it sounds so widespread.

If you are to confront someone, keep it really positive. "Isn't it tough to calm a kid, especially after a long day?" They might be more receptive to a suggestion after that.

If you have the time, I would suggest volunteering at a program that helps teach parenting skills in the area where you are riding. It may give you some insight into their lives, and it may help ease your anxiety because you are part of the solution.
post #57 of 70
all the pps give great advice...

i do agree with the pp that said to call the police if you see a parent cover a childs mouth to make them be quiet... i worry that it could be dangerous... considering the child needs to breath and all that... if she were to keep it there until they were quiet ... she may end up with a very bad kind of quiet.
post #58 of 70
Originally Posted by carmel23 View Post
Could you also talk to the bus driver? I've known some very preachy bus drivers (for lack of a better term) who will stop the bus and go back and talk to people about their behavior, over something as little as drinking water on the bus...

My dh is a bus driver and has said things to parents before. One woman was letting her 2 year old daughter run around the bus while ignoring her and he told her he couldn't drive if the toddler wasn't holding on or sitting down.
There have been other things too, but I can't remember.
post #59 of 70
Originally Posted by DasMaedchen View Post
I witnessed something like this just yesterday....

I said, while the lady was well within earshot, to my daughter: "You are SO lucky you have a nice mommy and not a psychopath like that lady" and went on with my shopping.

It must have made her check herself, because she calmed down and shut her loud mouth.
I am so stealing this approach. It's unfortunate to have to shame others into doing the right thing, but if her own logic and parenting instincts have already failed, then the ends (of sparing the baby more abuse) justify the means.
post #60 of 70
This is a great thread. I have been in this situation before, and I generally go the opposite way and blurt out something that I wish I had thought through later. I have said things like, "Please, please don't do that to him anymore." or "Please stop, you are scaring me." I generally am so truly upset that it comes out in a completely non-confrontational way as I am generally in tears or close to tears myself. I have even then talked to the parent and said sorry for saying anything, but that I was just truly scared. I think I, not by choice, approach the situation with such sincerity and vulnerablility is generally works.

I don't think everyone needs to go around being the parenting police. However, I always think about the how it makes the child feel that nobody drew a line for them. I have heard from many abused children that they thought it was normal, and since nobody every said anything, they didn't know that the way they were being treated was wrong. If nothing else, I want that little one to know that someone thought it wasn't right, and that someone was upset for them.
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