Disrupting Child Abuse

by Loolwa Khazzoom • June 30, 2013 • Family Secrets

Today my mom and I stopped at Denny’s to get out of the outrageous 107 degree heat. As my mom enjoyed an ice cream sundae (and as I enjoyed my mom enjoying it), I heard a man yelling aggressively, “Sit! Down!” I looked in front of me and saw an angry-looking man yelling at a toddler who could not have been older than two, tops. This idiot kept barking at the kid to sit down “properly” in the high chair, without demonstrating how the fuck to do it. I could see the kid feeling utterly confused, as he was already sitting down in the damn chair.

I kept almost getting up, to intervene, but was unsure of what to do or how to go about it, until the kid started crying. I frequently have intervened in public displays of child abuse – from aggressive and demeaning speech, to outright hitting – and I have found that when I address the parents, the situation usually escalates; whereas when I comfort the kids, the energy turns around without confrontation.

So as soon as the kid started crying, I bolted over, leaned down to the eye level of the kid, and asked, “What’s wrong honey? Would you like a hug?” Like clockwork, all the adults – including the abusive father – suddenly began doting on the little boy, speaking to him sweetly, patting his head, and explaining to me that “he’s grumpy from all the travel.” Yeah right. I wanted to deck the father.

I kept my eye on the situation the rest of the time my mom and I were sitting there, and the family continued to be kind to the kid. I really wanted to educate the parents, however, that you cannot yell instructions at a toddler, that you have to demonstrate, because, duh, it’s a toddler.

There is so much to say on topic, but I don’t have the energy to get into it now – questions of how far to go intervening in situations, what is our responsibility, where intervening in other people’s crap ends up adversely affecting us, what the boundaries are… I used to get involved in every fucked up situation I witnessed, to the extent that I wondered why the police department didn’t have me on payroll. Regardless, I do think that we all need to disrupt child abuse when we see it, however we go about getting involved.

One Response to “Disrupting Child Abuse”

  1. Martin
    Jul 08, 2013

    Good post!

    I once witnessed a woman dragging an 11 year old girl by the hair and yelling at her that she was stupid. The girl was visibly distressed and they came to the bus stop right next to me. I turned to the woman and said “that what you’re doing is called child abuse, you should be careful how often you do that in public ‘cos the next person might just call the police instead of warning you like I am doing.” When the woman got on the bus she patted her daughter on the head and was showing gestures of kindness for the rest of the journey.

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About Loolwa

Loolwa KhazzoomLoolwa Khazzoom has worked with leading media outlets, including The New York Times, CNN, Rolling Stone, and ABC News. In addition, she has published two books and has lectured at prestigious venues including Barnard Center for Research on Women, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and Harvard University. Loolwa is passionate about health, music, dance, multiculturalism, and Judaism.

Holistic Media, Marketing, PR

Loolwa Khazzoom is a a public relations manager specializing in holistic media, holistic marketing, holistic public relations, and holistic promotions. Her services include branding and messaging development, image and communications management, website content development and optimization, social media management, traditional media campaign management, book development, and in-house writing and editing.

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