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Old 03-05-2008, 07:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Yesterday I was in the Wal-Mart. I was in the shoe section. Not that that's really important but... I ramble. Anyway, this lady was there with her two kids. One was a girl about 8 years old and one was a boy probably 6 years old. The mom was helping the girl try on shoes and handed the little boy a drink to hold, and he dropped it. he started crying, visibly upset about it. It was clearly an accident. And the momma jerked him up nearly off the ground and beat the hell out of that poor kid. First of all, can it actually be legal to beat you child in public. BTW, I'm sure she would call it spanking/discipline. It took all I had not to say something to her. But I would have started screaming and probably gotten thrown out of the Wal-Mart. Anyway, I just kinda wanted to vent/share.

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Old 03-05-2008, 07:15 PM
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Silence...suggests approval.
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Old 03-05-2008, 07:20 PM
 
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Why not call the police?
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Old 03-05-2008, 07:21 PM
 
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Why not call the police?
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Old 03-05-2008, 07:23 PM
 
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What in the hell are you doing?!!? would be an appropriate response
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Old 03-05-2008, 07:38 PM
 
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I have been known to pull a "ARE YOU FREAKING SERIOUS" when I see stuff like that.

Makes them stop for a second and rethink what they are doing. Or at least give them someone to be mad at in hopes that it deters them from continuing the beating (or picking up where they left off later) because they are too busy telling me to go to hell.
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Old 03-05-2008, 07:42 PM
 
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Unfortuantely, I know from being the child who was beaten in public, that outside comments just made me get it evenn worse at home. It's always the child's fault for crying too loudly or drawing attention to the abuse.

I'm so sorry you saw this

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Old 03-05-2008, 07:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My silence had nothing to do with suggesting approval, it had to do with not knowing enough about the law to know if what the woman was doing was illegal or not. Just because I think it's wrong doesn't mean I'm allowed to force my beliefs on others. And I was with my mother and grandmother, firm believers in spanking. I didn't even want to have that conversation, AKA fight, with them again.

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Old 03-05-2008, 09:46 PM
 
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That must have been tough for you to see.

Regardless of legality, and setting aside the moral issue, it was unbelievably rude of her to have done that in front of you.
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Old 03-06-2008, 12:37 AM
 
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Was she spanking him or beating him? It is legal to spank your children on the bottom in most places so long as you don't leave a bruise. It is not legal to hit your kids on other areas of their body especially if you leave a bruise. If she was actually breaking the law and beating him you should have called the police, if she wasn't that is really sad but there is not anything that can be done to stop it and speaking up may make things worse for the child and perhaps for you also if she decides to attack you for questioning her.
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Old 03-06-2008, 02:26 AM
 
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Was she spanking him or beating him? It is legal to spank your children on the bottom in most places so long as you don't leave a bruise. It is not legal to hit your kids on other areas of their body especially if you leave a bruise. If she was actually breaking the law and beating him you should have called the police, if she wasn't that is really sad but there is not anything that can be done to stop it and speaking up may make things worse for the child and perhaps for you also if she decides to attack you for questioning her.
: From your OP it's difficult to tell exactly what happened.

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Old 03-06-2008, 08:51 PM
 
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I've never been in that situation, and in the moment I'm not sure I could think of an appropriate response - I might have just stood there dumbfounded.

But, not having been there and reading about it what comes to mind is I might have just offered to help her clean up the drink to intervene. "Oh, gosh, it's so frustrating when you're trying to buy shoes and things aren't going your way - let me help you clean up the spill!" and to the boy "I'm sure you didn't mean to spill that drink - it's ok, everyone has accidents".

I don't know if that would have caused him to get a bigger beating at home as someone else suggested it might, but I know when I get frustrated/frazzeled out in public interacting with other people kind of defuses the situation.

So sad for that little boy...and the mama too.

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Old 03-06-2008, 08:56 PM
 
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What in the hell are you doing?!!? would be an appropriate response

: But I agree that, many times, it will make things worse for the kid later.

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Old 03-06-2008, 10:11 PM
 
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I have intervened. You can say "Stop! Hitting hurts. Please do not hit.". You are safe to speak up. It doesn't have to be adversarial.


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Old 03-06-2008, 10:15 PM
 
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You are safe to speak up.
Yes, but it doesn't mean it would be safe for the child, unfortunately. Just because we doesn't know what goes on later doesn't mean it should be dismissed.

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Old 03-06-2008, 10:30 PM
 
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I have been in this situation a couple times, and fortunately or unfortunately, I dont know.... but I had visceral reactions both times..

It was basically, "Om my god, please stop! Its not okay to hit!"

and it was once accompanied by my sobbing daughter saying "momma! that momma hitting baby!"
because this woman was smacking a 10-12 month old baby on the face hands and then butt. it was awful.

and then my sensitive daughter told EVERYONE we saw, "momma hit a baby" and I had to explain that she wasnt referring to me.

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Old 03-06-2008, 10:36 PM
 
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Yes, but it doesn't mean it would be safe for the child, unfortunately. Just because we doesn't know what goes on later doesn't mean it should be dismissed.
I firmly believe the emotional abuse of being told that 'you deserve to be hit', is more damaging than the physical assault subsequent to a stranger speaking up in the child's defense.

As a child, when I first heard an adult say that 'hitting children wasn't ok', it helped me to know that SOMEONE didn't approve. It was the first time I'd ever imagined the possibility of my feelings being validated.


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Old 03-07-2008, 01:58 AM - Thread Starter
 
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She was spanking his butt, but he was squirming a good bit so she got his little legs and popped his hands in the process. I just used the term beating because that's what spanking is to me. But just to clarify, yeah, most spankers would have thought it completely normal and appropriate.

Jessie
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Old 03-07-2008, 04:36 PM
 
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Unfortuantely, I know from being the child who was beaten in public, that outside comments just made me get it evenn worse at home. It's always the child's fault for crying too loudly or drawing attention to the abuse.

I'm so sorry you saw this
'tis true

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Old 03-07-2008, 06:01 PM
 
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This is horrifying. I agree with pp who stated that sending the message that this kind of abuse is not ok is so important. I don't know that I would have known how to react at the time but it is important to acknowledge that speaking out is valid and necessary. The more we speak out as a society and REFUSE to accept the abuse of children the less likely it is to be perpetuated IMO.

I am so shocked that a child would be hit in public in this day and age. I have never witnessed it and hope I never do (we live in Canada so it seems less likely) but I also hope I have the courage to speak out and perhaps even help if I do.
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Old 03-07-2008, 07:29 PM
 
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Sorry you were witness to that. It's totally insane that she would be that upset over a spilled drink.
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Old 03-07-2008, 07:54 PM
 
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Oh how awful and sad.

I live in the deep south where unfortunately spanking is very, very common. We've run into this a few times ... the first time I was shopping alone, but was so shocked/scared/upset that I let out a very loud *gasp* and must have looked horrified. The Mom then laid in on me saying, "What, you've never seen a parent discipline a child?!"

Another time my son with with me. Another Mom was hitting (spanking, I guess) her child in a shopping cart. My not-so-shy son started asking me at the top of his lungs why that Mom was hitting and hurting her child. I tried to quickly get by so I could talk with him about it .. and as we passed them he asked the Mom directly, "why are you hurting your baby?" This Mom turned bright red and mumbled something.

I've never considered the fact that the kid might get it even worse at home after that. I feel really bad now.

Honestly, what *IS* the best thing to do in that situation? I've always thought it would be good to let that child know what their parent is doing is not acceptable to everyone, that there are parents who don't hit/hurt. But when I've actually been confronted with it, I go into some sort of shock and don't seem to ever respond right.

What is the right way to handle that sitution?

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Old 03-08-2008, 02:18 PM
 
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Yes, but it doesn't mean it would be safe for the child, unfortunately. Just because we doesn't know what goes on later doesn't mean it should be dismissed.
Very true. From a household with an abusive father, I know this to be the case. When the neighbors could hear/see, it only made him more angry.


But certainly, you need to do SOMETHING, if only to show your own child what was happening was NOT okay. Alerting store security would be appropriate.

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Old 03-08-2008, 03:39 PM
 
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Well; let's see. Speaking up takes guts that (let's be honest) not everyone has. It also (as other's have said) possibly puts the child at risk later if the parent is truly violent. So; let's examine the parents actions and stack it up against what we know.

We know that usually people try their best to save face in public; so the odds are; that mother was at her wits end.

We know that people usually spank/hit because they feel backed into a corner without options. They feel unheard. Frustrated. Etc.

This mother hit because the boy dropped the drink; thus making a mess for her to deal with; and most likely it was just the 'straw that broke the camel's back' so-to-speak. This mother is probably overloaded with stress and things on her agenda.

As a passerby; instead of making her feel worse; perhaps it would be best to offer to help her. To come by and say "I see that you're having a really hard time right now; you look like you're overloaded with stress and I bet this just made things harder on you. Can I help you by finding an employee and a mop to clean it up?". Offering her some sympathy and a solution may trigger her to realize that hitting the child is not a solution; and solutions aren't all that hard to find; and that you understand she's stressed. This makes her feel heard and helped.

Should you feel so bold afterwards; you might offer to meet for coffee sometime. If I had to guess; I'd say she feels really alone in life; unheard and misunderstood. Maybe you can be the one who brings positive back into her life.

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Old 03-08-2008, 07:31 PM
 
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My child spills a drink at least once a day; usually 2 or 3. Imagine if that poor boy is "spanked" (I consider it "deliberate hurting") every time? Yes, this particular mother may have been acting out of stress in a one-time situation (let's cross our fingers) but unfortunately she represents a great number of parents who spank (or worse) for every little mistake.
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Old 03-09-2008, 07:31 PM
 
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I used to work in retail, and whenever we saw something like this, security was called and occasionally law enforcement was involved as well. I would have at least alerted the store that this was happening and possibly called the police.

So sad that this still happens so much.

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My silence had nothing to do with suggesting approval, it had to do with not knowing enough about the law to know if what the woman was doing was illegal or not. Just because I think it's wrong doesn't mean I'm allowed to force my beliefs on others. And I was with my mother and grandmother, firm believers in spanking. I didn't even want to have that conversation, AKA fight, with them again.
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Old 03-09-2008, 07:32 PM
 
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Wow! A lot of wisdom in your response! Thanks for sharing.


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Originally Posted by Blu Razzberri View Post
Well; let's see. Speaking up takes guts that (let's be honest) not everyone has. It also (as other's have said) possibly puts the child at risk later if the parent is truly violent. So; let's examine the parents actions and stack it up against what we know.

We know that usually people try their best to save face in public; so the odds are; that mother was at her wits end.

We know that people usually spank/hit because they feel backed into a corner without options. They feel unheard. Frustrated. Etc.

This mother hit because the boy dropped the drink; thus making a mess for her to deal with; and most likely it was just the 'straw that broke the camel's back' so-to-speak. This mother is probably overloaded with stress and things on her agenda.

As a passerby; instead of making her feel worse; perhaps it would be best to offer to help her. To come by and say "I see that you're having a really hard time right now; you look like you're overloaded with stress and I bet this just made things harder on you. Can I help you by finding an employee and a mop to clean it up?". Offering her some sympathy and a solution may trigger her to realize that hitting the child is not a solution; and solutions aren't all that hard to find; and that you understand she's stressed. This makes her feel heard and helped.

Should you feel so bold afterwards; you might offer to meet for coffee sometime. If I had to guess; I'd say she feels really alone in life; unheard and misunderstood. Maybe you can be the one who brings positive back into her life.
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Old 03-10-2008, 03:03 AM
 
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Silence...suggests approval.

What a horrible guilt trip to place on the original poster or anyone else that has remained silence out of not knowing what the 'right' thing to do is.
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Old 03-10-2008, 04:08 AM
 
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Well; let's see. Speaking up takes guts that (let's be honest) not everyone has. It also (as other's have said) possibly puts the child at risk later if the parent is truly violent. So; let's examine the parents actions and stack it up against what we know.

We know that usually people try their best to save face in public; so the odds are; that mother was at her wits end.

We know that people usually spank/hit because they feel backed into a corner without options. They feel unheard. Frustrated. Etc.

This mother hit because the boy dropped the drink; thus making a mess for her to deal with; and most likely it was just the 'straw that broke the camel's back' so-to-speak. This mother is probably overloaded with stress and things on her agenda.

As a passerby; instead of making her feel worse; perhaps it would be best to offer to help her. To come by and say "I see that you're having a really hard time right now; you look like you're overloaded with stress and I bet this just made things harder on you. Can I help you by finding an employee and a mop to clean it up?". Offering her some sympathy and a solution may trigger her to realize that hitting the child is not a solution; and solutions aren't all that hard to find; and that you understand she's stressed. This makes her feel heard and helped.

Should you feel so bold afterwards; you might offer to meet for coffee sometime. If I had to guess; I'd say she feels really alone in life; unheard and misunderstood. Maybe you can be the one who brings positive back into her life.
This is a very kind, centered response in this situation, but what would it look like from the child's perspective? If I were 6 and my mom smacked me, then a strange lady was nice to her and offered compassion and understanding (remember I'm 6 and I don't understand the intention behind diffusing a situation), it might reinforce the idea that I was bad and deserved to be smacked.

thoughts?
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Old 03-11-2008, 02:41 AM
 
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I firmly believe the emotional abuse of being told that 'you deserve to be hit', is more damaging than the physical assault subsequent to a stranger speaking up in the child's defense.

As a child, when I first heard an adult say that 'hitting children wasn't ok', it helped me to know that SOMEONE didn't approve. It was the first time I'd ever imagined the possibility of my feelings being validated.
Thank you for sharing. I never would have thought about it in that way. DH and I saw a lady give her child a whopping on her rear in a store's parking lot. I was shocked, upset, and dumbfounded. I'm normally someone who would intervene in various public situations, but in that case, I didn't. It was also pretty quick though, and then they drove off. However, from your post WuWei, I don't think I will remain silent next time I witness such abuse. And if it happens, I hope the appropriate words come to me that validate the child's feelings but don't cause a worse beating at home.

Quote:
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This is a very kind, centered response in this situation, but what would it look like from the child's perspective? If I were 6 and my mom smacked me, then a strange lady was nice to her and offered compassion and understanding (remember I'm 6 and I don't understand the intention behind diffusing a situation), it might reinforce the idea that I was bad and deserved to be smacked.
: I think the woman needs some gentle discipline herself. Maybe taking a more middle of the road approach, so the child also learns that his mom's actions are not OK. Saying something to the mom like "It looks like you are having a very rough day, but please don't take it out on your child. Please let me help you clean up." And then looking at the child and saying "I know you didn't mean to spill the drink. It was an accident, which sometimes happen to everyone..." Etc.

Of course, the woman might not be too thrilled about that approach either...

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