I think parents have one of the most challenging and rewarding jobs in the world. I’m not a parent but I have parents and I thank them dearly for all things that they have taught me, from spelling to manners!
This topic is brought about by what I witnessed at the Food court just today at lunch.
My parents and I sat down for our last meal together before they were to head off to the airport. My dad placed the order whilst my mom and I set about to find a table.
The commotion happened behind me, a few tables away. I heard a woman shouting at someone, to paraphrase, this is what she said, ” No, you sit over there! You little F**ker, you’re stealing oxygen from me and my daughter!” Bewildered at the lack of response, I positioned myself to steal a glance. The woman was directing these words to a young boy of approximately 4 years of age. I also noticed that there was a man and a little girl in a stroller with her. She went on to comment that she hated giving him anything and stated that Taylor, I assumed was the little girl in the stroller was more worthy of her attention (though, it was not as eloquently put). Through out lunch, it was observed that the boy did not get anything to eat.
I can’t say for sure what had happened, but the woman exclaimed loudly, “Right, that’s it!” like reflex, I turned to look, she had stormed up to the boy with a hand around his arm and a stern finger right up against his face, “You motherf**ker, you waste of space, you take food and things from me and my daughter…”she goes on to say more things that sounded like threats to the boy. The kid has either a peaceful nature, total ignorance or complete fear, because throughout this, he did not let out a squeak!
From the tone of voice that she used and the choice of phrases, she made the people around her very uncomfortable and I am sure I was not the only one who was alarmed. There was a mature lady close by who was staring daggers at her and the man. What alarmed me the most was the phrases that she used, “me and my daughter”, which made me wonder if the boy was placed in her care, she could be a nanny, and aunt or a foster carer.
I shared this with H in the evening, after listening, he asked if I would have stepped in. After giving some thought to it, I probably would have if the abuse escalated to a physical one even though the psychological and emotional abuse is quite apparent. What would have happened if I stepped in? If they left without the police/ authorities getting involved, would the child be subjected to further and extensive abuse? I think stepping in in situations like that is difficult because there is no guarantee that the outcome would be a positive one…
The Department of Child Protection in Western Australia suggests that if you do think that a child is being abused or neglected, to contact local child protection departments or appropriate agencies. They also suggests to call 000 for life threatening situations and 131 444 for general inquiries and police attendance.