Is it child abuse? When would you intervene?

@SusanLee (1920)
United States
May 16, 2008 8:47am CST
Here is the scenario. Your in the parking lot and you hear a mother tell her child to stand right there, if you move I'm going to spank you. The child takes off across the parking lot. Mom takes off after the child, brings it back to the car and stands the child next to the car door and swats the childs butt two or three times. And says 'I told you not to do that or you would get a spanking.' Your in the same parking lot. A mother takes her child out of the buggy, stands it next to the car door, says nothing, the child takes off across the parking lot. The mom runs after it, grabs it by the arm and starts slapping the child anywhere her flying hand can reach. In the face, the head, back and shoulders, and the whole time shes calling the child vile names. What would you do if anything, and which is child abuse in your eyes? Or do you consider both abuse or neither?
12 people like this
48 responses
• United States
16 May 08
I don't think that the first case is really child abuse. A few swats on the butt are not taking it too far. Especially if the child was warned and acted as the child did in your first scenrio. I sometimes find myself swatting my nieces butts. But you must know that is ONLY when they mistreat my animals, my mom does too. We will nto stand for our animals being hurt, my nieces are really lucky they (well the dogs) don't harm them back. The cats will though. They tend to pick on the dogs more. But oh my gosh! the second scenrio is horrbile! Did you actually see this happen!? if I saw in the parking lot I would run over and stop the mother! I would tell her how horrible it is to slap your child as she just did. I also might take down her license plate number and report her to local authorities. She should defeniatly be investigated, that poor child!
• United States
16 May 08
I wanted to add that in the second scenrio, that would defeniatly be a good time to have a camera phone or be able to record on your phone! If the cops saw it happening, and actually heard what the woman said to the child that might jump start their investigation!
2 people like this
• United States
16 May 08
My son used to think it was great fun to dart across the street, parking lot, whatever he felt like. It didnt matter how much scolding he got, time out, etc he thought it was funny. So I did exactly what your first scenario said. He was told exactly what would happen if he did it, he did it anyway and I swatted him on the behind and with a very firm voice. However he did it again anyway and this time he almost was hit by a car. That is what broke him of it, not my spanking. The second scenario in my opinion is definately out of line. However it is hard for me to call it abuse, because when your child does something so dangerous and you get that adrenaline rush it is hard to control ones self. I think counseling to better deal with her emotions would be a better option than taking her child away from her.
2 people like this
• United States
16 May 08
Oh i didn't mean exactly for her childn to be taken away. I just meant that maybe they should keep and eye on her and make sure this isn't a regular thing in the family.
1 person likes this
@ambkeb (782)
• United States
16 May 08
I dont think that first case is really child abuse. That is dangerous and that child needs to know the rules and that if they break them then they will get into trouble. They warned of what would happen and they didnt care. I spank my children when/if they did stuff like that. It is for their own good...much better then actually being hit by a car. The second case, yes was a little out of hand. This might sound bad, but I dont think I would actually intervene. I may say something to who ever I was with and make sure that I said it loud enough so that the mother could hear. If I was an employee then I might make a point to say something about them to the manager or whoever if they were going into the store or where ever. I used to work at walmart, and sometimes they would watch and listen to parents who had been reported to them by anyone. If they had anything on these parents that it was BAD then they would call Social Services. If it never got any worse then nothing was done.
@SusanLee (1920)
• United States
18 May 08
I hate to say it, but when it comes to the second one, I doubt I would be able to say anything either. Not that I wouldn't want too. First I imagine it would happen so quickly I wouldn't have a chance to get over my shock. Second, I would be afraid if I actually confronted the woman without a cop or something there, it would be even worse on the child when it got home. Anyone who would do that in public to start with, would probably punish the child further thinking it was the childs fault.
@SusanLee (1920)
• United States
25 May 08
tommy, good point about the license plate. I take it you don't believe in spanking anytime for anything?
@SusanLee (1920)
• United States
25 May 08
Sorry about that, I meant tally, not tommy.
@eihdra (3116)
• Philippines
17 May 08
for me it's abuse though parents have different ways of disciplining their children..but then abuse is still abuse..whatever country you may live in, whatever religion you are, slapping your kids non stop is obviously not a good sight to view much more calling him/her vile names..there are many ways to discipline a child..I for one, doesn't like my kid to be embarrassed in front of other people. If he doesn't obey me, I would go on repeating the warnings and after that if he still doesn't obey me, I'll deal with him at home..Not to spank him but to still talk to him some more.Ask him why he doesn't follow, what is really the problem and how we can make things work for us.. As for what I would do if I see that mom, maybe I would approach her and tell her that what she's doing is not good for her kid..That the day will come hen her kid is older and she's still doing it, the neighbors will call the police and report her (if her kid will not do it), worst is she could be jailed for doing that.If she tells me it's non of my business, I'll tell her I'm a social worker and I have her license number written down and I could report her..Hope she get's my drift..
1 person likes this
@phoenix25 (1543)
• United States
17 May 08
So are you saying that the first scenario is also child abuse? Are you really a social worker? Even if you do spank your child (not the beating in the second scenario), if you don't leave any visible marks and there is no other evidence of abuse or neglect to the child, CPS can not really do anything to you. I would think you would know this as a social worker. I wanted to call CPS on my dad when I was a kid, but he rarely left marks that would actually stay long enough for someone to see them so I knew they wouldn't really be able to do anything about it and I would just get in more trouble.
1 person likes this
@SusanLee (1920)
• United States
25 May 08
I appreciate your input and I take it you don't believe in spanking under any circumstances?
@eihdra (3116)
• Philippines
27 May 08
hey there..for phoenix - Sorry, i dont think the first scenario is abusive but then it's kinda embarrassing for the kid if some people will see his mom doing that..No, I'm not a real social worker.But I would pretend to be one if that will stop the second mom from hurting the kid some more.. As for Susan's question - I do spank my son sometimes..When I have already exhausted all efforts in talking and explaining to my son that he has done something wrong,and he keeps on repeating it, and my patience met it's limit, then I would spank him, but not as much as the 2nd mom..He's turning 9 so I guess he can already understand all my explanations..
@jer31558 (3683)
• United States
16 May 08
Well, I would only consider the second one as abuse. The first one, to me, wanted her child to understand the dangers of what she/he did, and to remember what she/he had done so as to not do it again. The second simply wanted to punish her child for what she/he had done. To me, there was no love or compassion shown here, only displeasure at being disobeyed. If you were to ask me to describe the women, I would have to say that the first had tears in her eyes and the second had hate shining through.
1 person likes this
@SusanLee (1920)
• United States
18 May 08
My too, the first mother let her child know what behavior was expected and what the consequences would be if it didn't obey. I think it's important for parents to follow thru.
1 person likes this
• United States
27 May 08
I agree. You must be consistent. Let your child know what the consequences will be if he/she disobeys and follow through. Best way to go if you ask me.
• United States
20 Jun 08
I also agree. The first one I really wouldn't consider child abuse but the second is DEFINETLY child abuse. Why would someone want to curse there child for being a child.
@phoenix25 (1543)
• United States
17 May 08
I would consider the second scenario to be abuse. I don't think it's right to spank children anywhere other than the butt or meaty part of the thigh. Just hitting a child all over the place is usually something that comes out of anger, not a simple display of discipline. Also, the mother in the first scenario warned her child first. I always warn my son before I discipline him (spanking or not) so that he knows what he is doing is wrong. Then, the choice is his whether he wants to stop what he is doing wrong or be disciplined for it when he doesn't stop. I think it gives kids more responsibility that way and more ability to control themselves and the amount of spankings/timeouts they receive. As a former child abuse victim, what bothered me the most was getting beaten for stupid things, not being told what I did wrong, and being hit in places other than my bottom or things like being dragged by my hair. Those things do not teach children right from wrong and they instill fear in children. Often, a simple swat on the thigh or butt that is not even painful for the child will let them know that they did something wrong. I can just tap my son on the butt sometimes and he will cry even though it did not hurt. He just cries because he knows he did something wrong and hates being punished for it, whether it is a light spanking or a timeout. Ironically, he often cries more from a timeout in his room than he does from a spanking, so I know that I am not really causing him terrible physical pain or causing him to be terrified of me by giving him a simple swat on the butt.
@SusanLee (1920)
• United States
25 May 08
I have learned as I've gotten older to not spank out of anger, and to always let them know the consequences ahead of time like you do. That way they always know where they stand. Thanks for your input. Sorry you had such a hard life, my sister suffered that too.
@phoenix25 (1543)
• United States
26 May 08
I am not sorry about my past. One good thing that it has taught me is the difference between discipline and child abuse.
@lieanat (1140)
• Malaysia
17 May 08
I dont' think the mum is abusing the kid. But I just think that the mum is really irrational in teaching her kid! She should has explain to the kid why he should stand there and follow her advice!!!
1 person likes this
@SusanLee (1920)
• United States
25 May 08
Do you think the second scenario is abuse?
@lieanat (1140)
• Malaysia
26 May 08
Nope. I just think the mum is also irrational and ridiculous.
@Faquarl (17)
• Malaysia
17 May 08
I personally don't find the first situation abusive since it's a well known practice that works in most cases. Swearing/cursing or whatever towards your child is not "parenting". It doesn't teach them anything and it only has negative effects on the child since they're psychologically scarred by the pure hatred and unwarranted physical abuse shown in the second situation.
1 person likes this
@SusanLee (1920)
• United States
25 May 08
I agree, I would think that if they're calling the child names, they probably do that when they're not hitting them. I can kind of understand a parent going off on their child out of fear like others have mentioned. But I would really think calling the child names is something they probably do all the time.
• Belgium
17 May 08
Well, in the first case, the mother warned her child. And a child needs to learn that he has to listen to his mummy. So when you don't obey ánd you're warned, you get a spanking. Not wrong with that. But in the second case, that's a different story, because slapping your child everywhere your hands can reach? Calling it vile names? How terribly wrong is that! There is a big difference between giving your child a spanking on the butt or slapping it everywhere. And normally you want your children to grow up with a nice vocabulary. A decent person. But when you're calling it vile names, it's asking for troubles. They'll copy everything you say! But still, i think it's wrong to interfere, because, who are you to tell what's wrong and what's not... I'm feeling sorry for that child, but i don't think there's anything you can do about it.
1 person likes this
@SusanLee (1920)
• United States
25 May 08
I believe the second is a clear case of child abuse, although some mentioned the fear factor that could kick in and cause a parent to act totally out of character. Now the name calling, that is child abuse spanking or not.
@barehugs (8986)
• Canada
17 May 08
The first rule of raising children is,"You can't teach Love with Violence!" As far as I'm concerned both those instances were child abuse. In either case there is nothing an onlooker can do but turn your head, and shut your ears! Most uneducated Moms don't understand child training, and really believe they are doing a good thing for their child by using Corporal Punishment. If you were to suggest a Psychological approach they would think you were Crazy!
1 person likes this
@SusanLee (1920)
• United States
18 May 08
I want you to know I really do respect your views. But I just don't agree. I really believe it's how it's handled and under what circumstance the spanking is applied, and if the child is old enough to understand why it is getting a spanking. When I was little, I got a few spankings and they probably saved my life. One good spanking detered me from running out in the front of cars when I was four. If I had been put in a chair for some timeout, I doubt I would be here today. Thank you very much for your response
@babykay (2133)
• Ireland
16 May 08
I think it is definitely child abuse. Sounds horrible. We all lose our temper from time to time but violence is not the answer. And uncontrolled violence is very bad. You could injure your child doing such things. And apart from the physical damage violence causes mental trauma which takes longer to heal. If it were me I would have asked "are you ok" or something like that. If I knew the person concerned I would probably ask them to stop...if they didn't I would definitely report them to social services. We all need to look out for kids. Look out for what happened in Austria.
1 person likes this
@SusanLee (1920)
• United States
18 May 08
I didn't quite understand the first part of your response, you believe both are child abuse?
@jesus777 (664)
• Bermuda
16 May 08
the first is not abuse too me because the child was pre warned that there would be consequences for there action but they chose too disobey there mom anyway i feel if the child of warned then its not abuse but in the second case i would say it is abuse i would say its more then abuse its also neglect as much as it is hpysical abuse it is mental and emotional abuse too because as the old saying sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me name calling does hurt ive experience my whole life because of my wieght problem!!!!!!
1 person likes this
@SusanLee (1920)
• United States
18 May 08
I'm sorry you've suffered because of the insensitivity of others. People many times don't realize how a word here or there can effect another individual. I don't think the first one is abuse either.
@cjgrooms (4456)
• United States
18 May 08
The first is not in my opinion child abuse it is setting a boundry and showing them that the punishement will follow if they choose to ignore you. The second to me is child abuse because a child has a bottom to be swatted, there is no need to slap a child in the face (or anywhere else) when you are angry and the poor kid didn't even know what they had done wrong because they were not told where the boundry was.And calling the child vile names is almost worse than the physical pain. Physical pain will fade but the they will ALWAYS remember what their parent called them! ALWAYS.
@SusanLee (1920)
• United States
25 May 08
I agree with the name calling, I wonder sometimes what's worse, a good beating, or a few choice put- downs from people your suppose to be able to trust. I remember being called stupid one time by one of my parents, that hurts more to this day than any spanking I ever got.
@dfollin (12744)
• United States
17 May 08
I'd say the second scenario was abuse.But,you have to think at the same time,the mother might of been freaking because the child could have been killed.With the first scenario the mother did right in my opinion.I'm not sure that I'd do anything.
@SusanLee (1920)
• United States
18 May 08
You've made a very good point about the second mother. She could very well have been acting out of the norm due to fear.
@lucy02 (5017)
• United States
16 May 08
I would not consider the first abuse. It was correction and done out of love. The second is abuse. I think I would get a car tag number and phone the police and let them handle it from there.
@SusanLee (1920)
• United States
18 May 08
I think that would probably a good way to go too. I don't see how anyone could call the first abuse, but there are some that have very strong feelings about laying a hand on any child.
@cmjune76 (274)
• United States
3 May 10
The first scenerio is not child abuse; it's discipline. The second case is over the top. Calling the child names, hitting the kid all over it too much. The mother clearly has no self control. Every parent loses it at some point, but the level of losing it, and if it is repeated thing... well... that is child abuse. clearly. Thing is, what do you do in this case? If it's reported and the child is removed.. the chances of quality foster care is low. The mother clearly needed an intervention and some parental classes.
• India
13 Nov 09
Hi there, well what can i say...a child is a child, and most child are curious, they dont things even there moms says no,. the mother i think should consider that thing, in your story maybe the mother is just scared on the possibilities to be happened, so she not able to know that she is hurting the child, to me child should never be slapped or punish pubilically.
@relundad (2311)
• United States
15 Jul 08
Sounds like to me that scenario one was just a good old fashion spanking. Scenario Two seems to be a bit more serious and to tell the truth I don't know what my reaction would have been. I probally would have had a moment of shock to overcome. If the parent responded like that in public God only knows what a spanking at home would equate to!
@TessWhite (3147)
• United States
12 Jul 08
In my opinion I see nothing wrong with swats to the rear. I got them on the rare occasions I deserved them, as did my son and my granddaughters now. The second scenario you listed though would be abuse to me. There is a difference between a couple of swats on a padded bottom and slaps and cussing. Hitting the child in the face with slaps and calling them names is not punishment, its abuse.
@nadams80 (77)
12 Jul 08
I don't think the first ase is abuse. The second senario I would say yes, beause it seems the mother was not "controlled" and calling your child vile names I think is emotional abuse. I give my child a shot or two on her butt. I always tell her first what the consequenes will. I find if I follow through, she listens. I don't hit her hard, she doesn't cry or even wince.
• United States
12 Jul 08
Even though I don't personally spank my own children anymore (not because I'm against it completely, but because it just doesn't work for me) I really believe that there is a boundary you should never cross. The boundary that takes you from punishing a child to losing your own self-control. In the second scenario, I would have absolutely called the cops. I feel pretty fortunate though. If I take my little ones out of the 'buggy' and tell them not to move - I know for a fact that won't move.