I acknowledge that there are a variety of parenting methods/philosphies out there. There are many of said methods that I don't use in the raising of my children but I readily admit it is not my place, usually, to tell another parent how to raise his/her child. Corporal punishment makes me very uncomfortable, not necessarily because I have any real moral opposition to it, but because a)I think most of the time parents use it as an expression of their own anger and to exert power rather than to correct misbehavior and b) I don't think, in the long term, it is effective. (But I will say that I was spanked as a child and while I can honestly say I don't think it caused any lasting scars I can also say that I don't think it really corrected any of the behavior. Having toys taken away or privledges revoked was much more of a deterrent for me).
Today I was at Target and there was a mother with two children who seemed to be in every section we were. One of the children, around 4 or 5 years of age, was being a bit difficult and the mother's response was to yell "Shut up now!" repeatedly. While I don't endorse that as acceptable parenting I didn't really feel it was my place to interfere. A few aisles later as the disciplinary problem continued the mother slapped him across the fact, open handed. This, I'll admit, put me on guard. I really battled with myself about what to do. To me that is child abuse. I have never and would never strike my child and whether one spanks or not a slap to the face is beyond reprehensible in my book. I had both of my children with me so I didn't approach her, but instead stayed close just to see if it would escalate and if it did, I told myself I would step in.
She continued to yell at the kid (who as far as I could tell was only begging, albeit incessently and disrespectfully, which could have been stopped by simply saying no and leaving the store). I finished shopping, paid, and left the store. I had loaded my kids in the car and was returning my cart when the woman came out and started loading her bags into the trunk of her car, which was parked three spaces down. The child said something that I could not hear but obviously upset the mother who took her child by the back of the head and slammed his head into the side of the car. She then grabbed his face and put it in front of hers and continued yelling. I was seriously stunned. I have never witnessed such a sight in my life.
At that point I yelled over at her to get her hands off her son. She responded with some choice expletives at which point I pulled out my cell phone and called the police. I walked back to my car, got her license plate, and followed her until the police pulled her over a few miles down the road.
In all seriousness I have never been so sad for a child. If that is how she "disciplines" her children in public I cringe to think about what goes on at home behind closed doors. I know that there are times my kids drive me nuts, test my patience, behave disrepectfully, or otherwise embarass me. However, I cannot think of a time, regardless of what my child or any other child has done, that would warrant slamming his/her head into a car. Absolutely sickening. I have no idea what will happen. My guess is nothing, which depresses me even more. I did give a statement and also gave the police the name of the Target employee who also witnessed the mother's slap to the face. In any event, those poor children are on my mind tonight and I can only pray that they are safe.