A woman on the subway in NYC witnessed a man beating his child. It was Saturday July 26th around 3:30 p.m. on a northbound L train in Brooklyn. Which probably meant there were many people on that same train seeing this happen. This woman spoke up and reportedly said, "Please don't hit your child." The father was said to have responded, "Shut the f**k up, we will hit our child if we want to."
The woman, and her friend who was with her, both told police that the father continued to beat his child, hitting the young girl hard in the chest. The woman then told the father that she was going to report him to police, and then she got up to move away from the incident. That's when he followed her.
If what these women are saying is factual (it has been corroborated by the police), it seems that the child was being hit beyond what some may feel is acceptable corporal punishment. I do not practice that style of parenting. I don't believe in spanking my children. And if I had witnessed this incident of a man striking his child in the manner these women reported, I think I would have spoken up as well. What has resulted, however, is the child being struck more when the father was angered by the stranger's comment. And the situation got worse.
Speaking up -- trying to help this child -- got this woman beat up. The father followed her as she tried to leave the subway car. It was reported that he grabbed her by her arm and then "slammed her into the train pole several times and threw her on the ground on her back, causing multiple injuries." If there were other people on the train, I would guess they were stunned, scared, unaware of how to react. Fear can be paralyzing and this situation seemed to continue to get worse. I'm worried for that child. It seems her father's anger cannot be controlled.
Two men on the subway intervened and helped the woman, somehow managing to get the father away from her. The train stopped at the Lorimer station in Williamsburg and the cops were called. The man who beat the woman and his child fled the scene before they arrived.
There are going to be instances where we see how a parent is with their child and it may be a way we don't agree with. It's not just spanking, or hitting. What if you saw a mom yelling curse words at her child? What about if you witnessed a dad who is letting his kid destroy a display at the supermarket? Or a parent who is doing nothing about a child bullying another child? I could even go as far to question if a mom will intervene if another mom is feeding her child fast food -- if the one mom believes that fast food is the worst thing you could feed a kid. Some parents yell at their kids -- that doesn't necessarily make them an unfit parent. Where do we draw the line and how? And do we risk our own safety to speak up? Are we further risking the safety of the child if we do speak up?
I think our instincts as parents can tell us what to do -- it may drive us to speak up or not, to decipher if the situation is one where the child needs someone to be her advocate. We have to try to tell the difference between if a parent is having a bad day and whose patience has worn thin or if a parent is abusive or neglectful. That's not always easy to tell in one witnessed moment. But in this case, it seems that doing what this woman thought was the right thing, ended up getting her assaulted and the child hit more.
The police are now searching for the man.
What would you do if you witnessed this? How do you decide whether to intervene or not?