Have you ever heard a stranger being cruel to a child and didn’t know what to do?
On June 17th, Liv Tyler heard an elderly woman screaming at a crying tot and started screaming back.
Read the full story and see pics here.
I remember when I was a little girl, my mother used to follow people around and stare at them if they were being mean to children. It was her way of letting them know she disapproved, I suppose, and I think she also hoped that they’d be embarrassed and stop hitting or shouting since they knew they were being watched.
My daughter Anna has a habit of loudly saying things like "She’s not a very nice mother, is she, Mommy?". Eek! :)
Personally, I try to smile sympathetically at both the adult and child. I smile at the adult to lessen the stress of the situation and because adults often act harsher in public because they’re embarrassed at their children’s behavior and feel judged. I also want them to focus on a positive feeling and switch their attention from their anger. I smile at the child so the adult sees that the child deserves sympathy right now too.
I never feel like it’s enough.
I also called Child Protection when I had good reason to suspect abuse. I worked as a domestic abuse advocate and I was a Mandated Reporter (required by law to report suspected abuse), but I think we all should consider ourselves Mandated Reporters if we really believe children are being abused. I even called from a restaurant once, because the adults at another table were being downright cruel and discussing plans to hurt a very unhappy toddler. I couldn’t stop thinking that if they thought it was okay to loudly be that mean in public, what they would do to the child once they were in the privacy of their home or car.
I have also befriended mothers who acted abusive in the hopes of helping them and their children. I guess I feel that you don’t teach people to be less mean by being mean to them. :)
I read an interview once with a woman who had been abused as a child and she said a stranger once intervened and told her mother off in public when she was acting abusive. She said she didn’t care if she got hurt worse once they were home because of it, it was so important that someone else finally made a statement that she didn’t deserve that. She never forgot it, and it was the only time she ever felt an adult looked out for her.
What do you do to try to help in situations like this, if anything?