Always Crazy, Always Fun, Always Love

Ray Romano once compared life with twins to living in a frat house. As he put it, "no one sleeps, there is a lot of noise and a lot of throwing up." I find this very true with 4 young children, including twins. However, though things are always crazy, we always try to have fun and, most certainly, always love each other.

Friday, July 2, 2010

On Public Child Abuse

Over the last couple of weeks, I have witnessed two separate events of, what I believe, to be child abuse. Both of these events took place in public in plain view of others.

The first incident occurred as I was driving down the road a couple of weeks ago. The car in front of me had a child in the back seat who was maybe three years old. Not only was this child not buckled in a car seat, but she had the window all the way down and was HANGING out of the window to look around. In a split second, she could have fallen out of the car and been severely hurt- most likely killed. After hanging out of the window for a while, she did go back into the car and was romping around the back seat. There was no way the mother would have not known this was going on. I have a friend who has two little girls that are like little "Houdini's" and will get themselves out of their car seats and move around the van. But, the difference is, as soon as my friend realizes what is going on, she stops the car and re-buckles them- and she has made efforts to find other ways to keep them in their chairs. This did not seem to be the case with this other mother. I seriously considered calling 911 from my cell. Not only was this driver breaking the law by not having the child restrained, but I believe this is also child abuse when done intentionally because they are setting the child up for a serious situation. Maybe some would argue it isn't blatant child abuse, but at the very least it is child endangerment or neglect. Before I could decide, they turned a different direction then I was going. I chose to continue on my way and said a silent prayer for this child.

The second case happened at a near by "spray park". (A place for kids to run through and play in water.) A woman grabbed a boy-maybe around age 10 as a guess, by his arm and started yelling at him and hitting him on the chest and back with her hand AND fist. Over and over again. I couldn't tell what is offense had been. She was screaming at him about something and then would hit him again. What is even weirder is one of the things she yelled at him was "Do you want me to call your mother?!" So, she wasn't even his mother! Who was she? Childcare provider? I couldn't imagine someone getting paid to watch children would do that at all, much less in public! An aunt maybe or a much older sister? Possibly. I could never imagine doing this to my child- at home or in public- most certainly never to someone else's child! Again, I stood there staring at them, but indecisive about what to do. Do I call the police? I know I tend to be nicer to my kids in public, as I think most women are. So, if she was that abusive in front of people, what is she like at home?! Scary! I thought- do I intervene and ask her to stop, or would that make it worse somehow- make her turn on me or hurt him worse at home? Before I could decide, they quickly got in her car and left.

Both of these incidents got me thinking about what the proper way to handle these should be. I feel awful for not having done anything. I strongly disagree with not buckling a child AND letting them hang out the window, but is it my place to intervene for someone else's stupid decision? I know I would feel awful if I ever found out anything happened to that little girl.

And, the woman who was hitting the child, I wish I would have at least asked her to stop and threatened to call the police. I really do. That I really regret. Maybe she would have turned on me, but better to turn on me then keep hitting him. I don't even know him but feel I let him down. There were several other adults there too who either didn't see it or also chose not to act.

I don't want to judge them too harshly either. I don't know any of the story behind it- all I know is what I observed. I am certainly far from perfect and will NEVER win a mother of the year award. I have things I need to work on too. I just feel both of these incidents were very wrong and it is never okay to treat a child in that way. Ever. There is no offense a child could commit that would deserve that.

I would be interested in any thoughts from my readers on what you would have done or anything else you would like to share!


Kelly said...

There are few things that infuriate me more than children not properly restrained in vehicles- it is my major soap box- it is amazing to me that there are so many irresponsible parents who make the choice to not properly restrain a child!! I have said something before while driving by one, but have a tendency now a days to just say a prayer too!
Awful about the boy getting a beating at the spray park, too! Could you ever imagine hitting someone else's child, EVER?! No way! And if anyone ever hit mine- there would be pay! Such a sad time...wish i could offer more insight- but I don't know if I would've said anything either..

Abbey said...

Wow when I read your title I thought she is going to write about me :) I know I get so mad too, when I don't see kids buckled in, I remember seeing on the news of a child getting killed in a car accident because it was not restrained. It made me sad I think the parents should be charged with murder for sure. As for the spray ground it is so hard not to speak up, I would have written down the license plate number if it was at all possible. As you know Jacob is very difficult and I could never imagine hitting him, heck i remember when he bit Annie when she was a baby and it took everything in me to not spank him. It is sad that is for sure.

Autumn said...

Oh my word. I don't know?! Its hard to make such fast decisions. I think its always best to go towards being too cautious. Maybe a license plate number and vehicle description? I saw something a while ago and it wasn't anything like what you're describing. But I remember thinking how awful it is that now if they're pulled from homes, they don't always have a better place to go?! I guess the good news is maybe it would shake the parent into being aware.

Its soooooo sad to me that the screaming and yelling and hitting is used SO much quicker than any real discipline. I think parents lack major tools.

Wendy said...

I think we have all felt the fire in our soles when we see or hear something child related like that. THAT is what makes us good mothers, not perfect mothers. Remember the good enough mother article. :) About a year ago, in the summer, I pulled into Lowes to return something. The car I pulled up next to had a baby in a rear infant seat drinking from a full bottle. And a little girl maybe four. All alone. Car unlocked. I sat there staring, standing at the side of the car wondering what I should do. It was summer. The baby was drinking by itself with no adult to see if it choked or anything. The girl was walking about the SUV. The car was unlocked. My stomach turned. I felt just like you did. What do I do? After a few minutes I went in to do my return, came back out some five minutes later and they were still there. So, as I hoped it was a very quick in and out for her mom, it was not. As I sat there staring with tons of feelings, I asked a person that just pulled into a space what she thought. Some ten minutes later (after I came out - so we are talking 20 minutes from when I pulled in), I called 911, gave the location and license plate number, and just then the mom (or whomever it was) walked up and got in to the car. It surprised me and she gave me a look, but I kept on providing the info. I dont' know if they did anything - checked her out. I don't know. It was troubling to me. As far as your stories, I have seen so many of those, and the first time I acted was the story I told you about. It was the only time I felt any kind of peace after what I witnessed. The other times still linger in my head. So, what I will always do is get descriptions and license plates (when possible) and call 911. Maybe even video on your phone if possible (though that's hard). There's a fine line between how you try to stop it - like you said - will they take it out on the kid (in that case, given how they were in public - I don't know what to know what happens in priviate - so I agree with you not to say a thing!), will they attack you (I worry about someone pulling out a gun now that for whatever reason we as a society feel it's okay to give one to everyone), what if they hurt my kids, what if. okay, now I am rambling, but it really struck a cord since I have seen similiar things over the years. So I thought I would tell you the only thing that helped get it out of my head, call 911 discretely with all the info, it's all you can do.

Wendy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.