Would you intervene in a case of public verbal abuse? - Mothering Forums
Parenting > Would you intervene in a case of public verbal abuse?
LuxPerpetua 09:16 PM 05-07-2008
I have made a pact with myself to always speak up if I see (or hear) a child being spanked, but I then wonder, what about verbal abuse? The other day I took my child to the park and there was an angry father yelling quite nasty things at his daughter. I've seen this type of thing happen quite a bit and I just don't know if it would do any good to intervene, but then I feel so terribly guilty for not doing so. I've thought perhaps I'll just have to take it on a case-by-case basis (depending on the degree of yelling and what is being said, age of child, etc.), but I was wondering what others here do. Anyone have any suggestions on not only when to intervene but how to do it effectively?

Pancakes's Avatar Pancakes 09:27 PM 05-07-2008
I think you should mind your own business.

If some parent is yelling at their child, the parent has an issue with themselves and not the child. By you butting in to their lives and telling them they are a bad parent for doing what they are doing, they will most likely give you a few choice words, or worse, take it out on their kid later.


If you feel they are doing something illegal, get their license plate and call the police. If it's just that they are mean and you don't like, you are playing in someone else's pool.
The Harpy's Avatar The Harpy 09:41 PM 05-07-2008
I have to agree with the above poster. Let it go.

I have probably been heard a few times having choice words w/ my 14 yr old about something and heaven help the person who puts their nose in my business and tries to inflict their values on my child and I. kwim?

You don't know the situation, you can't know the history and it isn't your child.
Liquesce's Avatar Liquesce 09:50 PM 05-07-2008
Honestly, this post makes me think of all the times I've seen mamas come here and related how bothered they are by a stranger at the grocery store/park/whatever coming up to them and trying to help with unsolicited and unwelcome parenting advice. I, of course, don't mean it's good for anyone to be screaming at their kids -- I just mean that saying anything about it is just going to result in the same kind of "who do they think they are" response that is, frankly, natural when outsiders interfere.

If you see it as a big problem in your community and you have a little time, why not try to get involved with organizations that offer parenting classes or with big brothers/big sisters, boys & girls club, etc, type organizations? That way you're reaching out in a more substantial way. Just saying something to an already irate parent ... unless it constitutes "call the authorities" abuse or neglect, it seems more like something that could make you feel better for having tried but in the end wouldn't be very effective.
ThreeBeans's Avatar ThreeBeans 12:01 AM 05-08-2008
It depends.


Clear as mud?
rightkindofme's Avatar rightkindofme 02:55 AM 05-08-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by LuxPerpetua View Post
I have made a pact with myself to always speak up if I see (or hear) a child being spanked, but I then wonder, what about verbal abuse? The other day I took my child to the park and there was an angry father yelling quite nasty things at his daughter. I've seen this type of thing happen quite a bit and I just don't know if it would do any good to intervene, but then I feel so terribly guilty for not doing so. I've thought perhaps I'll just have to take it on a case-by-case basis (depending on the degree of yelling and what is being said, age of child, etc.), but I was wondering what others here do. Anyone have any suggestions on not only when to intervene but how to do it effectively?
Well, this situation is why my partner's parents will never be alone in a room with my children. His mother is horribly abusive to all of her children and to her husband. The one and only time I have ever flown cross country to meet her I "stuck my nose into her business" and told her to stop verbally abusing my young (12 years old) sister in law.

I came from an abusive family. I can't keep my mouth shut.
UptownZoo's Avatar UptownZoo 03:17 AM 05-08-2008
In almost all cases, I think it's best to bite my tongue. I did intervene once, but it was a really extreme. I had my big kids with me, too, and I think my reasoning in the moment had something to do with not wanting them to see me walk past something like that. Mostly, though, I felt actively afraid for the child.

Oh, man, I hate to think about that day. I'm gonna have to go read something cheerful to get to sleep now. I hope that little girl is OK.
grumpybear's Avatar grumpybear 05:48 AM 05-08-2008
Probably not. I'm afraid I might aggravate the parent's anger towards the child and I doubt that my or a stranger's intervention would lead to a change of attitude in how the parent treats their child.
Needle in the Hay's Avatar Needle in the Hay 07:13 AM 05-08-2008
I once said something to a man who screamed at a child that was not his own. The kid was 2 yrs old and had just pulled his DD's hair. If he had been paying the slightest bit of attention he would have seen it coming a mile away but he was reading his newspaper with his back turned (the 2 yr old's mother was sitting with her back turned away as well). Then instead of comforting his DD (he just left her on top of the play structure crying) he screamed at this little guy.

In a department store I witnessed an upsetting situation with a father and son once and did nothing. I really don't think anything I could have said or done would have helped. The kid was around 11 or 12 and I just felt soooo bad for him.
hippiemum21580's Avatar hippiemum21580 11:26 AM 05-08-2008
I think it depends HOW extreme it is. I am more likely to speak up for a young child than an older one, like a toddler I mean. A couple weeks ago a nieghbor in our complex was going ON AND ON at her 11 year old daughter. She was clearly drunk and was screaming and cussing at her daughter who had been playing outside with other kids. I personally know the girl who is very sweet and the mom is a drunk. (VERY sad all around) Anyway, she kept going and the girl was sobbing and embarassed and then the mom started yelling at other kids NOT her own! I and my best friends hubby who were outside talking finally snapped and went over and told her to QUIT cussing in front of OUR kids and go inside and stop yelling. She actually became very beligerent with a whoel bunch of peopel around and the cops were finally called. That experience has taught me to be careful cuz if I had been alone in a private area she may have gotten physical! It pisses me off to see people verbally abusing children but unfortuantly you cannot change the world..... (sigh)
abac's Avatar abac 11:28 AM 05-08-2008
I agree with the pp's who say mind your own business, but I also think the suggestion to get involved in community efforts to help effect change is a great one!
nikkiethridge's Avatar nikkiethridge 12:49 PM 05-08-2008
Its interesting that I'm reading this right now,
Just yesterday evening I was behind another mom in the checkout line. Her (maybe) 4 year old daughter was in the buggy acting a little fussy, then I heard her mother say "Can't you just shut the hell up?!". She then turned to the cashier and said "She just woke up from a nap and she is PISSING me off".

I seriously wanted to die right there. I mean, this child didn't even do ANYTHING to deserved that kind of reaction from her mom. It was just nuts. The poor thing just sunk down and started sobbing so hard. I couldn't even imagine how she felt.

I couldn't say anything though. AS MUCH AS I WANTED TO, I just knew it wasn't my place. I could only shake my head. So difficult.
angelpie545's Avatar angelpie545 01:58 PM 05-08-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by hippiemum21580 View Post
I think it depends HOW extreme it is. I am more likely to speak up for a young child than an older one, like a toddler I mean. A couple weeks ago a nieghbor in our complex was going ON AND ON at her 11 year old daughter. She was clearly drunk and was screaming and cussing at her daughter who had been playing outside with other kids. I personally know the girl who is very sweet and the mom is a drunk. (VERY sad all around) Anyway, she kept going and the girl was sobbing and embarassed and then the mom started yelling at other kids NOT her own! I and my best friends hubby who were outside talking finally snapped and went over and told her to QUIT cussing in front of OUR kids and go inside and stop yelling. She actually became very beligerent with a whoel bunch of peopel around and the cops were finally called. That experience has taught me to be careful cuz if I had been alone in a private area she may have gotten physical! It pisses me off to see people verbally abusing children but unfortuantly you cannot change the world..... (sigh)
This is a very sad situation, but in this case I think you guys did the right thing. Had I been you and been alone, I probably would have quietly gathered my children, went inside, and placed a phone call to the police. Normally the police wouldn't have a leg to stand on if it was *just* verbal abuse, but because the mother was drunk and belligerent they probably could have arrested her even if she hadn't become combative with other people.

It's true; sometimes we really have to think of our own safety before confronting others. This is something that I have a really hard time with, and something that I need to really think about. I have a fierce need to try to "right" injustices that I see and a tendency to speak my mind no matter what the consequences, and I have found myself in situations that could have easily turned violent. It's something that I'm realizing that I need to quickly put in check before something happens to myself and my children. As much as I really hate to see children being verbally abused in public, unless it's something I can get the authorities involved in, I am probably going to have to practice walking away before my mouth gets me attacked.
MtBikeLover's Avatar MtBikeLover 02:12 PM 05-08-2008
I guess I am in the minority. I have done it and would do it again. Both times it was a grandparent.

At disney, a grandmother was really angry at her grandson. He was crying (maybe 2 years old) and wouldn't stop. She told him "A mean old witch is going to come and get you." I couldn't keep my mouth shut and i told the boy "Don't worry, there are no witches here." She told me to mind my own business, I told her I thought it was terrible that she was trying to scare him like that. Even though she seemed pissed at me, she still picked him up and started talking nicer to him.

Another time, it was a grandfather who was ridiculing and shaming his grandson for not going in the swimming pool and kept comparing him to my two kids who were swimming like fish. I kept my mouth shut for awhile but then I finally said something. He tried to justify his behavior and I kept answering. He finally let up on his grandson.
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