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Do you ever witness child abuse in public?

Posted by on Mar. 10, 2013 at 7:20 AM
  • 18 Replies

Yesterday afternoon I was at the grocery store with my daughter, we're in the cereal aisle and this woman was there with a young boy (couldn't have been older than 5 or 6 years old, tiny little thing) the  boy like most kids his age, starts touching a box of cereal and out of nowhere his mom (I presume) starts shouting and dropping F-bombs at him "Didn't I tell you not to f*^@^*@^& touch anything? + a whole bunch of other expletives that I won't even bother typing. Grabs him by the shirt, and the boy starts crying, and then  she yanks him by the arm and drags him down the aisle and I'm just standing there shocked the entire time. I couldn't believe it, I've never seen anything like this before in my life. I've heard of parents being awful to their children in public but I never witnessed that before. My 11 year old daughter and I just stood there staring with blank expressions on our faces... But almost immediately after the woman walked away with her son, I began to feel guilty. I wondered if maybe I should've intervened, said something, threatened to call the authorities. IDK. I'm not too sure what to do in these kinds of situations. I would never intervene with a mother disciplining her child, but this wasn't discipline. This was way too harsh for a little kid touching a box of cereal (he didn't even knock anything down), you would have thought the poor boy murdered someone with the names and expletives she was hurling at him, not to mention angrily dragging him by his little arms out of the aisle. But people like that tend to hide behind the "I can discipline my child the way I choose." excuse and while that's certainly true, where's the line? At some point it becomes abuse... It seems like this woman was taking her frustrations out on that poor innocent boy, when I'm sure whatever she was going through couldn't have possibly been his fault. 


The whole thing just left a really bad taste in my mouth, and I left me feeling sick. I can only imagine how she treats that poor baby at home if this is how she treats him in public. I didn't know it was such a crime for kids at that age to want things at the grocery store. Heck my daughter is a preteen and she's always wanting, touching things when we go out. That's just how kids are, that doesn't necessarily mean us parents have to buy any of it, but kids will always see things that they want and that's okay. 


I also understand when parents don't want their kids to touch things at the grocery store, because you don't want to be stuck paying for something because your child opened/ruined/ate it, when you didn't give them permission to, or had no intention of buying it, so I get that. But it still doesn't warrant dropping F-bombs and dragging a kid out of the aisle. 


Anyone here ever witness parents being unnessarily harsh or downright abusive to their children? If so how do you intereven, without further pissing off the parent, or possibly making the situation worse for the child later on? Do you intervene at all? 

by on Mar. 10, 2013 at 7:20 AM
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Replies (1-10):
JoGibson
by on Mar. 10, 2013 at 8:41 AM
3 moms liked this

I see it all of the time.  As a foster parent I am trained to spot it.  Sadly intervening at that moment would not have done anything for the child except get him hurt later when the parent takes out the anger for you on him.

Did you see any marks on the child?  Sadly verbal abuse is not going to get CPS attention, even if it is more harmful than any other kind. 

When people witness something like this the best thing they can do it follow the family and get a license plate number.  In the days when people wrote more checks you could get their info from one, cashiers were always helpful by writing down the check info when they also saw the abuse.

Also do not report it annoymously. It is really hard to prove something happened or get more details when the cops and CPS d not have the witness.

Only get in the way if the child is in immediate danger of serious harm.

diaperstodating
by Angel on Mar. 10, 2013 at 8:46 AM
No I have not. I appreciate the info from the first poster. If I ever witness abuse, I hope I remember to follow them and write down the license plate #.
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mrsary
by Silver Member on Mar. 10, 2013 at 8:49 AM
Being in public is always worse for hard to manage kids. I have 3 toddlers (including my 8 yr old Autistic child). We rarely go anwhere because they always have these group meltdowns making it impossible for me not to react. Especially if we have somewhere to be. I have had cps called on me twice for them running away from me in public.
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JoGibson
by on Mar. 10, 2013 at 8:57 AM

I have an autistic child too, so I can relate.  I have also had foster children yell "this isn't my mommy, they took me from my mommy" in stores. 

I have been met by cops a few times in stores.  But at the same time I am glad there are people out there who are still looking out for the safety of children.

Quoting mrsary:

Being in public is always worse for hard to manage kids. I have 3 toddlers (including my 8 yr old Autistic child). We rarely go anwhere because they always have these group meltdowns making it impossible for me not to react. Especially if we have somewhere to be. I have had cps called on me twice for them running away from me in public.


nodramamama311
by on Mar. 10, 2013 at 9:05 AM
I see child abuse everyday where we live. No one else sees it that way though so there's not much I can do except pretend I don't see it. Parents screaming "you better shut up!" to a 4 yr old, kids with no shoes or coats in cold weather, no carseats, babies being held on laps in cars, people smoking with kids in cars. Everyday I see it. These people are small town hillbillys and don't think they are doing anything wrong. It's sad, these kids don't have a chance.
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janice41
by on Mar. 10, 2013 at 9:12 AM

mrsary, I understand that it's very difficult to manage children in public places. I can relate, I have a niece who throws the worst tantrums in public when she doesn't get what she wants, and I've been unfortunate enough to get stuck with her on a few occasions and I have to say I was usually at a lost for what to do, when a kid is screaming and crying having a melt down of that nature.

That being said, this situation was completely different. This little boy was not having a meltdown or crying or being difficult, he merely touched a box of cereal and his mother completely flipped out, hurled insults and profanity at him and proceeded to drag him away. It just seemed like too much in my opinion, that kind of verbal abuse is never okay.

JoGibson. Thanks for the information, I really didn't look for any bruises or the like, everything happened so fast and I was just in so much shock that it didn't even register until after everything was over. I was hesitant to intervene because of what you said, parents like that remind me of bullies, and I felt if I intervened and she felt "humiliated" she could possibly take it out on her son later on. But still I wasn't comfortable not doing anything at all, so thanks again for those tips. I will definitely keep it in mind. 

mrsary
by Silver Member on Mar. 10, 2013 at 9:13 AM
Oh wow. Fostering must be really hard!


Quoting JoGibson:

I have an autistic child too, so I can relate.  I have also had foster children yell "this isn't my mommy, they took me from my mommy" in stores. 

I have been met by cops a few times in stores.  But at the same time I am glad there are people out there who are still looking out for the safety of children.

Quoting mrsary:

Being in public is always worse for hard to manage kids. I have 3 toddlers (including my 8 yr old Autistic child). We rarely go anwhere because they always have these group meltdowns making it impossible for me not to react. Especially if we have somewhere to be. I have had cps called on me twice for them running away from me in public.



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mysweetoctbaby
by on Mar. 10, 2013 at 9:27 AM

I heard it once.  I was at Friendly's eating ice cream with a friend of mine when some woman took her child into the bathroom and beat him.  She came out and I made a comment about it, so they ended up leaving the restaurant because of me.  I don't like child abuse, sorry!

BLRiley
by on Mar. 10, 2013 at 9:27 AM
Unfortunately yes. I felt like you were describing the exact scene I witnessed except it was in a discount clothing store (kinda like a cheaper Marshall's. My son calls it the ghetto TJ Max lol!) Anyway I had my 4 year old daughter with me and we were in the shoe aisle. The scene unfolded pretty much just like yours. A little boy. The F bomb all over the place. My daughter was scared & we ran outta there & left the store! Unfortunately, I know that verbal abuse does not send red flags to CPS. I personally know that it takes a LOT to send a red flag to CPS, so at that moment, I knew I couldn't help the little boy, and I needed to protect my daughters eyes and ears. I was pissed. Yes. But there is nothing you can do to get through to people like that. It's like they're from another planet. :(
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Clubpenguin
by Member on Mar. 10, 2013 at 9:35 AM
Years ago we were shopping for clothes and there was a couple with two kids and the parents each had belt. They walked through swatting the kids with the belt for no reason. I still cant forget it
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