Social Question

bookish1's avatar

How does it make you feel when you see a parent hitting their child in public?

Asked by bookish1 (13062 points ) July 26th, 2012

Do you ever want to say something to them? Have you?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

65 Answers

creative1's avatar

I haven’t seen it but I am not shy I would say something

bookish1's avatar

@creative1 : I wanted to, but I was so upset I was afraid I would end up hitting the mother, honestly :-/

jca's avatar

@bookish1: Then you would probably be arrested for assault.

Pandora's avatar

Awkward. But it really depends on what you mean by hitting. To me there is a difference between a smack on the hand or a slap on the face. If a kid is going around the store mishandling items that can be broken or ruined, I have no problem with a parent smacking their hands once and after having given them a firm warning. If your child still doesn’t listen then you need to take them home and not bring them out shopping till they know what is expected. I’ve personally not seen worse than that but I have heard some parents make comments that I felt was abusive.

bookish1's avatar

@jca: Yes, that is why I held myself back. My frontal lobe does work sometimes.

creative1's avatar

Then if that is the case I know everywhere in the US you are able to contact the local child protective services and report her.

Aethelflaed's avatar

Do I say something? It depends on how intense the flashbacks are.

jca's avatar

@creative1: Hitting your child is not considered child abuse.

creative1's avatar

@jca well it was in this case

gondwanalon's avatar

That is none of my business unless the kid id sustaining life threatening injuries.

jca's avatar

@creative1: In the area I live and work in, it’s abusive if the hit leaves marks/bruises, or if the hitting is done with something other than an open hand (i.e. closed fist, or some object). Perhaps that one in the article was done with a closed fist? Who knows, it’s not that detailed.

creative1's avatar

The way I look at it at least its reported and if the parent is doing this in public I cringe to think what they are doing when no one is looking. My hope is if enough reports come in that the person be investigated and if anything bad is happening at home then its caught before its too late.

I don’t believe children should ever be hit all your teaching your child to do is hit.

bookish1's avatar

I couldn’t give a shit what the law in a particular city says.

I still flinch whenever anyone raises their arm around me, and I’m pretty sure my father never left marks.

jca's avatar

@creative1 and @bookish1: Believe me, I’m not saying I think hitting a child is right. I am telling what the laws are where I work and live. I know because I do that for a living. If it’s not something that is “reportable” the registry won’t even take the information, so it’s not a matter of compiling “reports” on “non-reportable” things.

this_velvet_glove's avatar

I’d say something, I guess.

bookish1's avatar

@jca: Thank you for clarifying; I did not know that this was your job.

SpatzieLover's avatar

Stare at the parent, talk to the child. Yes, this has happened on more than one occassion in front of me at the mall. Yes, I’ve spoken.

If I thought it crossed a line, I’d call the police.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@creative1 My concern is actually always that without significant evidence, all that will happen is is a single investigation after which the parent retaliates even harder and will put more effort into making sure there are no further investigations.

@jca So if a mandated reporter calls in, does that mean later there wouldn’t even be a report to prove the reported fulfilled their mandate? (Given that it can often be tricky to divine exactly when you are and aren’t supposed to report).

jca's avatar

@Aethelflaed: If a mandated reporter calls in, the person on the other end of the line asks detailed questions about the incident(s). If the answers don’t warrant abuse or warrant an investigation, no information is taken or kept. A number is given to show the phone call was made, but there’s no personal information taken about the family, only the caller, recipient of the call, time, date, municipality, etc.

Linda_Owl's avatar

If I feel that the child is being actively mistreated, I will ALWAYS say something to the parent doing the hitting (or else I will say something to the store manager). I, too, was raised by a step-father that was always willing to hit all six of us kids for what ever reason that went thru his mind.

bookish1's avatar

@SpatzieLover: What do you say to the child?

SpatzieLover's avatar

“Sweetheart are you having a rough day?” or “You look tired?” <—-something along these lines often opens the child up to communicate instead of whine, cry or pout…or whatever it was that made the parent hit the child in the first place.

Once communication has begun, I can gently talk to the parent (if the parent is open to talking) about how warm it is and how this makes children less likely to behave, or how the toys at eye level are just too enticing to not be touched.

In one case, the parent thanked me. That was a relief. The parent just catastrophized the situation due to a crying child.

wundayatta's avatar

I hate it. But if if is just a swat, or dragging the kid by the arm, which is usually what it is, I won’t say anything. I also hate it when they yell at the kid, but again, I won’t say anything.

I think you have to pick your battles, and taking on a strange parent for how they treat their kid is a good way to get hurt. Even if you did manage to stop the parent in this instance, you are only delaying the pain for the child, and you will probably make it worse. The only way this can be handled effectively is with long term, consistent parenting education and support.

Perhaps I am fearful and am a coward for not standing up for the weak and defenseless. This is possible. But I don’t think so. I think it is a problem that can’t be helped in a short intervention. Such an intervention would only make things worse over the long haul.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

It depends on the type of contact being made. If it’s actually “hitting” (which to me, is completely different than spanking) you bet your ass I would say something. If the kid gets a swat on the bottom, or gets their hand tapped if they’re grabbing things, I would applaud the mother for doing her job.

Related- I whacked my 6 year old’s bottom a few weeks back, while she was in the backyard, because I told her it was time to come inside and she yelled, “No, no, no, I’m NOT!” at me. I don’t put up with that shit. So she got a butt swat… because she knows better. A few days later while hanging out at my neighbor’s house, that neighbor told me, “I just want to thank you for spanking your kids when they deserve it. Not enough parents do that anymore.”

bkcunningham's avatar

I’ve seen kids behaving so badly in public I wanted to give them a little something to cry about.

SpatzieLover's avatar

I’ve seen the same behavior in the parents.

Pandora's avatar

Having been a victim to a cute child who can make you look like a monster in seconds (My daughter at 2), I have a hard time stepping in. When I was shopping in a store my two year old was bored as she sat in the shopping cart. She became curious about my nipple and decided to pinch it hardddd! My first reaction was pain followed by a murderous stare and my hand pushed her hand off quickly. A man camed down the aisle and gave me a nasty stare as my daughter cried bloody murder. I didn’t even hit or hurt her. She was crying, I’m sorry mommy. They saw that cute face an assumed I was abusive. They had no idea how I had to restrain my murderous thoughts and how I had never laid a hand on her. Just give her a look of disapproval and she cried better than any child actress.

flo's avatar

It makes me wonder if they are doing that in public what could they be doing in private? I know it doesn’t necessarily mean they do worse, but I wonder.

tom_g's avatar

@bkcunningham: “I’ve seen kids behaving so badly in public I wanted to give them a little something to cry about.”

I’m both fascinated and terrified by this comment. I am tempted to ask you to elaborate, but I am feeling that the explanation would be worse. Please tell me you were joking (the kind of joke that was lacking the funny).

funkdaddy's avatar

With the qualification that most times I see this it’s a relatively harmless swat that won’t be remembered the next day, I usually feel bad for the parent. I think with less judgement from their peers there would be less spankings and escalation from there. They get embarrassed and just want it to stop.

I don’t understand why so many are so smug about parenting and that interaction is the part I dread most about being a parent. People need to be able to raise their kids with some leeway to their own beliefs. It’s not up to you to decide if they’re a good parent because you saw them in the grocery store for 10 minutes, but that’s exactly what people do regularly. The other parents may not subscribe to the latest magazines and research that you do. That’s ok. Most people are trying to raise a family with the best of intentions.

That’s totally different than harming the child though, and by all means step in if it’s a bad situation. Stop it, make sure the child is ok, and call someone if cooler heads don’t prevail quickly. But I can only think of once that I’ve actually seen a child getting hurt in public, and people were quick to step in.

Ponderer983's avatar

If it is a slap for being bad and nothing more, I applaud the parent for being a parent. Sad these days that I have to say that, but so many parents let their children rule them, so I like it when a parent shows the kid the consequences of their actions. But if the parent was borderline abusing the child, it makes me sad

YARNLADY's avatar

@tom_g Believe it or not, some people actually believe that making a child cry by hitting them is the best way to make them behave. It’s been outlawed in many countries.

josie's avatar

See above

I assume you mean a single swat on the butt. No problem!

I gave my sons a lick on the ass more than once before they were old enough to understand my words. By the time they were old enough to understand my words, they were subconsiously intimidated by me, and I did not have to give them a swat on the butt. Instead, they listened to me. This is human nature. It is one of the principles of international politics and military training. You don’t have to use aggression. You simply have to have a credible threat that it is there and that you might successfully use it.

My sons are rookie adults. We have a great relationship, and they love me as much as I do them. And either of them could, if they chose to, mount a credible challenge to me physically. But they do not, and they never will. I know that they could take me, but they do not press their physical advantage. There are many, many reasons for that, but one of them is they subconciously remember when I gave them a swat on the butt. So when they need a lesson, or when we disagree, they listen instead.

If you are talking about hitting a child in the face, that is a different matter. I would indeed say something and have done so. Totally inappropriate and uncivilized.

YARNLADY's avatar

@josie Rather than hitting (or swat as you say,no matter how you try to soft pedal it) I have always used a restraint method that works just as well. I would either hold them so they couldn’t grab, or put them in a child resistant play pen.

The play pen was both a threat which they tried to avoid, and a place to be safe when they asked to go in, with their sleeping pad and pillow.

josie's avatar

@YARNLADY
Good for you. I don’t disaprove of your parenting methods. On the other hand, I infer that you do not approve of mine. Why? They are different than yours to be sure. But why the obvious negative moral judgement? Are you a better parent than me? How would you know? Just sayin. You don’t have to respond.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

You know, I really hate the “I’m such a fucking amazing parent” superiority that just drips from comments like, “Well, when my children misbehaved, I would never ____ or I would simply _____ and it worked just fine without me ever having to shove bamboo under their fingernails…” Not every child is the same, and not every child responds to the same forms of discipline. You have such a beautiful high horse. Get off it.

josie's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate Break my heart by saying you are talking to me. Or don’t…

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

No, darlin’, I’m not talking to you. :D

wundayatta's avatar

I thought we were talking about hitting, not spanking. Perhaps we can accept, for sake of argument, that we are talking about something much worse than the kind of spanking some people here find acceptable. My question is if you see a parent doing something you believe is abusive, how do you respond?

bkcunningham's avatar

If @Ponderer983 can make a child cry with a look, imagine what I can do with a threatening look, @tom_g. Ohhh, does it make you shake? LOL Yeah, of course I mean I enjoy making children cry Tom. It is an old saying. Haven’t you ever heard a woman say that about a child she doesn’t know whether to kill or hug? Another old saying. I don’t want to kill any children. :~)

tom_g's avatar

@bkcunningham: ”@tom_g. Ohhh, does it make you shake? LOL Yeah, of course I mean I enjoy making children cry Tom. It is an old saying. Haven’t you ever heard a woman say that about a child she doesn’t know whether to kill or hug?”

No. I haven’t. I know that kids are abused, and I’m not finding the humor in it. But I thought you might be serious or something. And yes, it does make me shake.

Bellatrix's avatar

@bookish1. Can you give us more information about the specific situation?

bkcunningham's avatar

I hope you know I’m kidding with you, @tom_g. I would never hit a child. I spanked my granddaughter once. I cried harder than she did. It was one little swat and I had warned her two times. The third time, I patted her little fanny, which was covered in a diaper. I cried harder than she did and now she knows she has me firmly wrapped around her little finger. I’ll let her mommy and daddy discipline her. lol And you know what, they are doing a phenomenal job raising her and I trust them. If they busted her butt for misbehaving, I’d trust their judgement and never once think they were hitting her and hurting her. Hurting her feelings more than her bottom though.

bookish1's avatar

Dude, I regret having started this thread.
But I did mean for it to be about hitting/striking/beating and not about the casual slaps which some people think are ok.
As for it being a duty and a useful way to teach consequences, I can remember my mother telling me she was “going to have to” spank me, being 4–5 years old, and not being able to piece together WHY it was happening. I remember feeling utterly clueless, desperate, and helpless. So, it failed to teach me the “consequences of my actions,” and I was not a stupid child by any means.
This wasn’t what I meant by being abused however.
That was different.

Anyway.
This woman was hitting her very small, quiet, docile child (2–3 years max) on the back of the head and around the shoulders because it wouldn’t get off a seat on the metro. She could just have picked the kid up or something…

digitalimpression's avatar

If they are hitting them I would say something. If they were spanking them I’d say to myself “Well it’s about time there was a parent who wasn’t afraid to discipline their child!”

My wife and I have taken to writing down marks on paper when they do something bad (and having them acknowledge the mark on the paper). Each mark becomes a swat when we get somewhere outside the store (you know.. away from the sort of people who would call CPS just because a kid got a smack on the butt for doing something wrong…)

ucme's avatar

If it’s actual hitting, which I define as striking with sufficient force so as to leave a mark, & it’s the mother, I think to myself….....why didn’t she just keep her legs closed?
If it’s the father, well then his dick should have been removed at birth.

wundayatta's avatar

What would you say, @digitalimpression? Take the situation that @bookish1 described: the child sitting on the seat on the metro and the parent whaling on their shoulders and neck with blows because the child wouldn’t get up.

“Pardoner moi, madame….” (since we’re in Paris)

funkdaddy's avatar

Get between them and the child, either with your body or your arms, then try to make eye contact.

“Hey! Are you all right?”

See what happens from there. Either way you’ve stopped the abuse and given the parent a second to settle down.

wundayatta's avatar

@funkdaddy What do you think will happen to the child when they get off the metro? Think about what @digitalimpression said a few posts up. By getting between the parent and child, do you believe you will save the child any pain, or are you just sparing yourself from having to see it?

jca's avatar

@funkdaddy: You should never come between a parent and their child. WTF?

funkdaddy's avatar

@jca – If someone is beating a child?

Absolutely I will get between them. They need a minute.

I’m not talking spanking, I’m talking beating. It’s the same I would do if an adult was getting beaten.

@wundayatta – I think you’re assuming that all abuse is serial abuse and part of some larger picture. I think a good portion is just a situation that gets out of hand.

I can’t stop serial abuse, someone in the child’s life will need to step up for that, but I can stop the situation that gets out of hand.

wundayatta's avatar

@funkdaddy Yes, I think you are right. That is my assumption. I believe that most people would control themselves in public. They’d be able to stop one time events. Only someone who committed chronic abuse would get used to it enough to be able to let themselves behave that way in public.

jca's avatar

@funkdaddy: If someone were beating a child, you would get between them and ask “Hey, are you all right?” I don’t think it would be that easy if they were actually beating a child. You’d have to physically pull them off. You make it sound like you would place yourself in between and have a conversation, which would not be likely if there were actually beating going on. The OP asked about “hitting a child in public.” If a parent were hitting a child in public, you should not place yourself in between them.

wundayatta's avatar

@jca “If a parent were hitting a child in public, you should not place yourself in between them.”

I agree with this, but I would like to know your reasons for saying it. Is it because you would place yourself in danger? Or what?

jca's avatar

@wundayatta: No, not at all. It’s because if a parent slapped their child and someone came along and placed themselves in the middle, it would be like “who the f are you to stand between me and my child?” I don’t hit my child but I can tell you if I did and someone came and stood between us, that’s what I would say. I don’t think it’s a person’s place to stand between a parent and their child unless something urgent is happening (like a beating). I don’t think a slap would qualify as urgent.

If it were a beating, then yes, it’s a different story, but then, like I explained above, if it were a beating it wouldn’t be a matter of just standing there, it would be a matter of being actively involved and pulling the parent off the child.

funkdaddy's avatar

@jca – I’m not sure exactly what you’re fixating on. From above, both from me.

If someone is beating a child?

Absolutely I will get between them. They need a minute.

I’m not talking spanking, I’m talking beating. It’s the same I would do if an adult was getting beaten.

and

With the qualification that most times I see this it’s a relatively harmless swat that won’t be remembered the next day, I usually feel bad for the parent. I think with less judgement from their peers there would be less spankings and escalation from there. They get embarrassed and just want it to stop.

I’m not sure what exactly you have a problem with. But to be clear, if someone is getting beat up, in public, and I see it, I’m usually going to try and stop it. I think you’re putting yourself in that situation rather than me in that situation, and don’t know enough about me to decide if it’s realistic or not. That’s not to be rude. I know you have experience in this area and I’d guess there’s someone you work with who steps in to these situations regularly. How exactly do they handle it?

I think they’d get between them, see if the anger shuts off (that’s the eye contact and asking if they’re OK) and then go from there. They may stop, you may be the new target, or they may ask you “who the f are you to stand between me and my child?”. Any of those improve the situation in the short term.

I appreciate that someone shouldn’t tell someone else how to raise their children, and firmly believe it’s none of my business until someone can’t defend themselves, then it just needs to stop.

I’d also like to point out that I have no way to know if you’re his mother, his caretaker, a babysitter, or a stranger who didn’t like what he was up to three minutes ago.

Again, I think we’re on the same side but you still seem to be upset by something I’ve said so wanted to clarify the whole thing rather than a single line.

jca's avatar

@funkdaddy: I appreciate your trying to clarify. I don’t think I was upset, I think I was bothered by the thought of someone coming between a parent and her/his child if just over a slap.

Dsg's avatar

I don’t interfere unless I think something is really wrong. I usually make eye contact with the adult and they usually say something that lets me know its okay and that they are just disciplining as needed. You never know though! Its a very scary situation when you hear a child screaming. All I want to do is make sure they are ok.

Satchafunkilus's avatar

Why are people acting as though this is a touchy subject? I was hit as a child, not violently, whenever I misbehaved or was doing something rude. It was never out of malice. I am genuinely appalled if I see a child being actually hurt by an irresponsible parent. Leaving a mark is a terrible way to determine if the strike was abusive; for if you don’t leave it a mark, chances are it did not really hurt. And when hitting a child as a reprimand, one must explain why they were reprimanded, as one would do with a dog.
To answer the question, I would not intervene unless the parent is being irresponsible. I can say with no doubt, I truly deserved most of the spanking and cuffs from my father’s hat.

wundayatta's avatar

@Satchafunkilus What made you deserve these “cuffs?” Were they the only thing your father could have done to correct you?

Satchafunkilus's avatar

No, but they got the point across more efficiently. Hey, how do you link names like that?

wundayatta's avatar

Type the @ sign and a list of people in the conversation will appear. Select the one you want to address your comment to.

I have found that with children, the things that seem to be efficient or expedient at the moment, usually cause longer term delays. So they turn out not to be efficient.

It is usually much better to correct a child in a kindly way than in a way that uses anything remotely close to violence. You teach the kid they are are respectable that way. Hitting them in any way reminds them that you think they are your property to do with as you wish. It doesn’t matter what the parent thinks they are doing, that is the subliminal message.

That causes problems down the road. The kind of psychological problems that often end up in therapy bills, or if the person refuses to work with it, then chronic psychological issues.

Not fun. Oddly, most of these kids will deny to their last breath that their self-esteem issues and confidence issues and all the rest had anything to do with being spanked. But there’s a phenomenon that falls under: when victims come to identify with their captors and abusers. It’s quite tricky and subtle in its workings. Best to stay away from any form of violent touching if you can at all figure out how to do it. And since it is unnecessary—only expedient—parents who take the time to figure it out can generally manage to stop that kind of discipline and shift to something more effective and less inducing of psychological damage.

Answer this question

Login

or

Join

to answer.
Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
or
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther