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Is slapping a child hard in the face abuse?

I was in New York city recently and there was a woman with 2 boys, probably about 7-9 age range. I was walking towards a building door and the kid was in my way. I simply said excuse me, nicely, and the woman responded by slapping her kid hard in the face. My heart dropped, and I told the kid "that was just not cool." I then said the same thing to the mom, that I understood the kid might be a pain, but don't hit him in the face. She then told me to mind my own business, snapping her fingers and doing that whole head shake thing. I had made my point and walked in to the building.

Q- did I do too much, too little? What else could I have done. I basically said what I wanted to say to all of them, in a manner that the kids could understand.


Thu. Nov 29, 12:38pm

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I'm not sure what else you could've done in that moment. You essentially conveyed to the child, "I'm sorry that happened to you, that wasn't right" and you made your point to the adult without being inappropriate, not that it will change their behavior one iota. Kids are at the mercy of adults, so I'm glad you didn't mind your own business. Ugh - that sucks. Just think, though, if that's what happens in public, can you imagine what happens when no one is looking?

I'd love to hear other opinions on what could be done in that moment that involves rational, adult behavior. I don't think yellling or getting in the adult's face is going to help, but is there something that might give an abusive adult pause?

Thursday, November 29, 2007, 1:05 PM

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Restrain yourself! Walk away. No, there is not something you can say, if you are not someone who is there every day.

I was that kid, at one time. You know what happens? You embarass the parent in public, and they take it out on the kid not too much later.

Thursday, November 29, 2007, 1:15 PM

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you did all you could. Maybe you planted a seed and next time she will think before she acts on slapping her son in the mouth. My mother told me that a child should never be hit or slapped in the face that is what the rear is for and only if all other options fail. My mom had seven children and I can probably count on my one hand when she or my dad actually used physical disipline on any of us kids. They lead by example and all of us turned out fine and so have our kids. I think parents sometimes think children should act like adults at all times in public and when they don't they get embarrassed and go over board with the discipline.

Thursday, November 29, 2007, 1:29 PM

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My husband is an attorney for children & Family Services and in CA, you can't slap your kid in the face. He's had cases where parents lose their kids temporarily to foster care or other suitable families while parents engage in parenting classes to regain custody. Light spanking on the butt is not deemed as egregious as face slapping.

I think you are totally in your right to tell a mom/dad something if they are physically hurting a child - the child has no advocate. If its really bad, I'd call the cops.

Thursday, November 29, 2007, 2:03 PM

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Boy that is a tough question. I would think you did the right thing but my next thought was what would the kid have to face later.

I read somewhere once in a self help book that when you slap a kid in the face it is one of the worst things or the most demeaning things you can do. And then to do it in public.

I don't believe it is right to use physical punishment. There are other ways of dealing with a misbehaving child.
And each child is different. I was the type that all you had to do was give me a look of displeasure and I was heart broken. My brother on the other hand you could spank him until he was black and blue and he would turn around and laugh at you. But you make him sit still for a few minutes and it was torture.
Children are so delicate and I don't think people realize it.

I have family that I used to remove from abusive situations on a regular basis and at one point the police had been called and I had taken her and didn't realize that I was wrong in doing so. So I had to take her to the police station to give a statement. She was aprox 15 at the time. She and her mom had gotten into a physical fight. And the police man told me that she could not hit her mom back. All she could do was remove herself from the situation. And that her mom was within her legal right to physically punish her. So basically her mom could hit her but she couldn't hit back or defend herself. It was so crazy. That was only 7 years ago.
Our children are such a gift I just don't understand how abuse just goes on and on. Abuse of every kind. Just because it doesn't leave physical scars it leaves emotional ones and people wonder why the world is so messed up. Let's take care of our kids and nurture them.
My two cents

Thursday, November 29, 2007, 5:37 PM

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Slapping anyone in the face is not right. I know how that child felt. I still remember when I was around 7 or 8 years old (I'm 31 now) my mother smacked me in the back of the head for moving around too much. This was at a bus stop in front of other people. I was extremely embarrassed and wanted to cry.

She grew in a time and culture where it is okay to do that but I'm not going to do that to my kids.

Thursday, November 29, 2007, 8:49 PM

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My mother slapped me hard across the face in private a few times and I still love her but I just don't understand how she could do that to me if she really loved me. That was over 30 years ago and I cry when I think about it. We have talked about it and she said she was sorry she lost her patience. But I think since that happened it has changed our relationship. She has since just recently done it to someone else in the family even though I asked her to never do that. When she told me about it I was upset and she said oh she's different than you it didn't bother her a bit.

Friday, November 30, 2007, 11:01 AM

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No slapping of the face but I think parents have EVERY right to spank their kids, in public or private if they misbehave

Monday, December 03, 2007, 1:48 PM

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I'm a social worker, but as even as a private citizen, the only duty we have is to inform. You probably couldn't have intervened. And to do so in front of the child can sometimes lead to more trauma. Last time I saw something like that in a public place (a mother hitting her 2-year old in the face with a ruler). I discretely made note of her license plate number (once outside) and used that to report to CPS.

Monday, December 03, 2007, 3:05 PM

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3:05 here... To OP, I do admire your compassion. As another poster said, maybe you planted a seed.

Monday, December 03, 2007, 3:08 PM

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