How to Effectively Report Public Child Abuse

Published Date: June 3rd, 2010
Category: Weekly Thought

Today I witnessed something that was just horrible. And please know that there will be nothing funny or endearing about this post—it will be a sad post. It will be a post that might make you mad or make you cry (like I have been doing all morning), but I felt the need to share it with anyone who still reads this blog in case you witness a child being repeatedly hit in public and want to know how to handle it.

I was at the Dollar Store. Shopping for last-minute items for my Avon walk weekend and buying G his summer pair of flip-flops. Now the whole time, I heard a child crying and whining in the background and a mother yelling at her. Which was sad, but unfortunately, not something that I hadn’t seen before. Until I passed the check-out line and saw this woman back-hand her 2-year-old across the face and say,

“You better shut up, or I’ll do it again.”

To which the child, of course, did not shut up because her mother had just hit her HARD across the face. So the mother did it again.

And I stopped in my tracks. And sat there for a few seconds. And then turned around. This is the conversation we had:

Me: Did you just hit your child across the face?

Mother: Yes I did, and I’ll do it again cuz she’s getting on my LAST nerves.

Me: Please don’t hit her again.

Mother: Why don’t you mind your own business? I’ll hit her again if I want to.

To which I then asked to see the store manager (pointless) and then proceeded to call 911. While I was calling, the mother became even MORE agitated and swore and yelled at me and said:

Mother: Go ahead. Call the police. I don’t care. I’ll do it again. You don’t know what I go through. I have three other kids at home. You don’t know my business.

I paused my dialing for a moment to tell her:

Me: Don’t know your business? Let me tell you, I’m a mother. I know. And I know you shouldn’t hit your children. If you didn’t want children, you should have used birth control.

Which definitely did not help the situation. When the 911 operator (who I would like to add was a WOMAN) picked up the line, I explained the situation and the operator said nonchalantly:

Operator: Well, is she hitting her child or beating her child? We cannot do anything if she is just disciplining her child.

Which stopped me in my tracks. You can’t do anything if a child is getting physically harmed? In public? I was so shocked at all of this, that I unfortunately said,

Me: Well, she hit her child three times in the face.

And this went on for a while and in the meantime, the abusive mother left the store. With her child. Who I am sure she will hit again. And again. Which made me cry all the way home from the store because in the end, I felt like I did not make the situation better, but exacerbated it because now the abusive mother was REALLY angry.

Therefore, if I had to do this over again, I think I would have done the following:

1) Ask the mother if she was okay and if the child was okay.

2) If the mother started yelling and getting worse, I would have calmly moved to the side and quietly called 911. If other people were witnessing this, I would quietly inform them to do the same thing, because the more calls 911 received, the quicker the police would have gotten there.

3) When asked if the child was being beaten, I would have said yes.

4) I would not have yelled back at the woman who was either drunk, on crack, or both, because in the end, that didn’t help the situation.

There is no witty wrap-up for this post or I wish I had something meaningful to say, but I don’t. I truly hope that you don’t witness something like this, but unfortunately, I bet you will. And I just felt that maybe if I shared this, you could deal with it in a way I wished I had.

This entry was posted on Thursday, June 3rd, 2010 at 10:17 am and is filed under Weekly Thought. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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