The slap heard around the newsroom and now the world

I walked into the office Wednesday morning surrounded by angry mothers over this story about a stranger who walked up and slapped a crying toddler in a Stone Mountain Wal-Mart. The child’s crying apparently bothered the man.

My co-workers are outraged over the man’s action, an outrage I understand and share. One of my co-workers said that if this guy had slapped her child, two adults would be in jail today.

Their indignation made me wonder about our debate on this blog a few weeks ago about corporal punishment and paddling in school.

Doesn’t it just make sense for all of us to keep our hands off of other people’s children?

(Please note that this has proven to be an emotional topic and there are more than 1,000 comments, some of which fall into the wild-eyed category. May I also remind people to leave out the obscenities. I have had to delete dozens of comments.)

1,083 comments Add your comment

Tom

September 2nd, 2009
10:42 am

I am opposed to corporal punishment in schools or the home. I never spanked my own children and despite warnings from my elders at the time, they have grown into very respectful, well behaved young adults. BUT having said that, I don’t think you can draw a comparison between a stranger losing his temper and repeatedly slapping a 2 year old in a Walmart and corporal punishment as a legal, sanctioned form of discipline in the schools.

Old School

September 2nd, 2009
10:51 am

In my opinion, it is never right for a stranger to slap a crying child. I am just as alarmed at parents who are oblivious to their children when out shopping or in other public places. Too often the child is tired, hungry, hot and cannot express their discomfort in anyway other than tears and wailing. The annoyed parent either ignores the child or gets angry at him/her. Perhaps if more parents of young children who much take them on errands did so at the child’s pace, there would be fewer incidences of strangers even wishing they could stop the wailing.

As far as corporal punishment at school, I have see it administered with positive results and with no change in behavior. I personally have found other discipline methods that worked well for me as a parent and as an instructor. Each must discover what works with best desired results and least harm.

Nate

September 2nd, 2009
10:59 am

Spare the rod, spoil the child. Although, I do spank my kids when they get out of hand I DO NOT condone what this guy did to a 2 year old…If I was that child’s parent I swear that guy would’ve had a serious can of whoop @ss opened all over him and I would’ve been in jail still whoopin’ his @ss. I am a firm believer in my first statement in this response though. Just my opinion and everybody has one, but I started letting my kids know their boundaries early and I ease up as they mature and consistently show good decision making habits. As far as corporal punishment in schools, I have to admit, teachers had far less behavorial problems with students back then when I was in grade school but I think spanking should be left to the parents because there also were those occurrences where spanking got out of hand in schools.

mdowney

September 2nd, 2009
10:59 am

Tom,
The only connection is that the incident raises the broader question to me: Should anyone physically discipline a child other than their own?
I have no problem with a stranger correcting my children in a store if my kids are pulling toys off the shelf or trying to climb on a display.
Nor do I have a problem with a stranger telling my children that they are talking too loudly in a library. The problem occurs when a stranger goes beyond verbal reprimands and puts his/her hands on a child. (Although there are situations when a stranger yanking a child back from the brink of danger should be applauded.)
Whether sanctioned by the school, I still think marching a child to the office so a principal or assistant principal can paddle them is dangerous and detrimental policy.
That was my point.

Aubrey

September 2nd, 2009
11:03 am

I am absolutely enraged by this story. Sometimes it has nothing to do with whether we are running errands at our child’s pace. My child is 18 months old and she simply hates to be made to sit in cart. I don’t ignore cries but i calmly talk to her through the store (at this point i usually resort to putting her in an ERGO on my back which is perfectly content to do). If someone dared lay a hand on my child, they would not have gotten a second slap in and I don’t think I would be in jail either. That should fall under self defense. If he hit this 2 year old hard enough to leave a mark on her face he should also be charged with assault. A grocery store is a public place. This man is probably the same type of person who would have gotten in my face for nursing my child in her carrier in the store when she was younger. Ridiculous.

Tired Mom

September 2nd, 2009
11:08 am

My child, who is brain damaged, has had meltdowns in a store before. We try not to take her shopping but sometimes it can’t be avoided. We don’t take her out to eat to the movies or other events. Strangers do become hostile, glare and make comments. They should know how difficult life can be with a special needs child before they judge us as bad parents because a toddler is crying. Unless they want to help, they should just leave it alone and keep their attitudes to themselves. I have been afraid of some of the strangers that have made terrible remarks…..

Karen

September 2nd, 2009
11:09 am

I am like the other blogger..If that had been my child there would be two in jail right now..

jim d

September 2nd, 2009
11:12 am

Q– Doesn’t it just make sense for all of us to keep our hands off of other people’s children?

A– Hell yes

Lucy

September 2nd, 2009
11:17 am

Parents need to be more responsible for their crying children. Parents do not teach their kids to behave in public. It is very fraustrating to shop when you have crying kids and the parents hear them but do NOTHING about it. TAKE THEM OUT OF THE STORE LADY.

Meme

September 2nd, 2009
11:19 am

And if this grandmother had been there when the stranger slapped her child there would be at least 3 people in jail. I hated spanking in school and only did it once. It did hurt me more than it hurt them. I had parents who requested that I spank their children, but I couldn’t do it.

Michelle

September 2nd, 2009
11:22 am

I don’t even touch students if they fall asleep! A parent will NEVER have the opportunity to ask me “why I put my hands on their precious angel.”

This man just snapped and should be prosecuted to the fullest extent, but, I do understand. Just last week, my teenager and I were in Target and there was a little boy about 3 or 4 years old who was just SCREAMING at the top of his lungs because he wanted his mother to buy him some toy. I told my son that if that were him – we would’ve taken a trip to the restroom by now! Now, when we got in line, the little boy pushed the cart onto the back of my foot. I turned around and told this poor excuse of a parent to please take control of the cart so I won’t get hit with it again. She looked like she didn’t know what I was talking about. Anyway – I (for a brief moment) wanted to slap the crap out of the mother and the child!

Chris

September 2nd, 2009
11:23 am

Well to be honest parents today dont know how to keep there children in check. There is nothing more annoying then a child crying at a restaurnt or in line at a store. Im 28 and when I was growing up we never wee unruly, then again being from New York we had a little more class. If you cant parent your child, then dont take them out in public! The man warned the mother and I think he did the shoppers and the child a service, but then again what did he expect at Wal-Mart

Colleen

September 2nd, 2009
11:31 am

I love how people from New York have a false sense of superiority. Get over yourself, Chris.

Jimmy Hoffadul

September 2nd, 2009
11:33 am

Please don’t use New York and class in the same paragraph. They are opposites.

Explain yourself

September 2nd, 2009
11:35 am

Did you mean to say “we never PEE unruly?

Maureen's accountability metric

September 2nd, 2009
11:36 am

Maureen, you’re probably going to say I’m splitting hairs here, but I think your choice of words is very telling, perhaps in ways even you haven’t thought about. The question is, after reading this, will you be willing to consider this issue from a different paradigm?

Maureen I submit to you that indeed it makes sense to not hit other people’s children. But do we really want an over correction Maureen, where we are saying “keep our hands off of other people’s children”?

Do we really want a child to feel he can be completely insubordinate to the teacher, scream at his classmates, curse his teacher, yet the teacher be limited in her responses because if she attempts to escort the student out of the room, administration may not support her because she merely touched the child?

Do we really want situations like this to occur? Unfortunately they are already a common occurance, because the child knows through experience the teacher feels her options are limited, and thus the child will continue his tirade for five to ten minutes, even more, in those cases where administration is nowhere to be found.

What has been totally lost in the discussion of corporal punishment is that the above scenarios present real decisions teachers have to wrestle with everyday, because we aren’t willing, out of fear, to take a common sense approach to supporting our teachers.

Maureen, do you really want to empower students in this way? Because, I submit to you, when you chose words like “keep our hands off of other people’s children” you are indeed empowering them in this way, even if you aren’t consciously aware of it.

I submit to you Maureen that your choice of words “keep our hands off” is indicative of a mindset that has become so pervasive in our society, that we aren’t even consciously aware of it.

It’s a mindset that has made such an over correction to the abuses of the past, that has lead to real life consequences of students screaming, cursing, and in other ways disrupting learning because they have been empowered to play the “If you touch me I’ll sue” card by school systems who will not support the teacher.

And that Maureen, I submit to you, is a much bigger issue than the Wal Malt customer who got mad as heck and couldn’t take it any more.

TailaMarie

September 2nd, 2009
11:37 am

Slapping another person’s child is inexcusable. However, in most these cases, the parent was against it and did not give permission. In the case of corporal punishment in many schools a waiver or permission form must be signed by the parent. If it is not signed then the worst that child recieves as punishment is probably detention. Corporal punishment works for some kids, not for others.

My husband and I are having our first child in October. We have discussed and decided that spanking can and will be part of our parenting skill set *provided it prove effective*. We however would never spank another person’s child *unless* that child were left in our care and the parents had given us permission, or stated that it was acceptable as punishment to them.

The Facts

September 2nd, 2009
11:48 am

It is never acceptable to hit a child– one’s own or someone else’s. Those who feel the need to resort to this are quite frankly unsocialized and behave like wild animals.

Breeze

September 2nd, 2009
11:49 am

@Lucy – That’s easier said than done. If I’m shopping and I’m almost done I’ll surely try my best to do something about my crying child but I’ll be damned if I’m going to walk out the store only to have to come back in to start over.

@Aubrey thanks for your comment. My youngest is 11mos and I have to not only shop with her in the shopping cart along with my 3yo, I have to entertain while doing so.

Children cry to express themselves (pain, anger, boredom, what have you) but hitting them will not end with silence. Who thinks that to quiet a child you hit? What genius came up with that.

Corporal punishment. Nope. Not my child. I teach respect. If there’s a problem. Call me or their father. My relatives don’t hit my children. I spank them if/when needed. (@ Nate) I do believe if you spare the rod you spoil the child but i also believe you have to teach manners. But a crying two year old doesn’t need to be hit/slapped/spanked or whatever.

What I fail to understand is how this man got close enough to this person’s child to hit him/her. If a person made that statement to me, there would have been a problem so my crying child wouldn’t have even been an issue at that point.

And another thing, if a crying 2yo can push you to the brink of actually hitting him/her (especially if it’s not your child) who’s to say what you’ll do to an adult that pisses you off.

To say I’m outraged by this man’s audacity to hit another’s child is an understatement. I share the sentiments of many others…if no need for ambulance or coroner, he’d be in jail with me.

what's right for kids???

September 2nd, 2009
11:50 am

It is the parent’s responsibility to keep the child under control. In this case, the store should have intervened and asked the mother to leave. My family and I were at dinner, and our daughter decided to throw the mother of all fits. We did what responsible parents do: one of us took her to the car and the other asked that the meal be boxed up to take home. Had we not done that, I would have expected the manager to ask us to leave in no uncertain terms.
The man had no excuse to hit anyone, but the parent had no excuse to keep her child in a store when the child is unruly and out of control.

oldtimer

September 2nd, 2009
11:52 am

Slapping or hitting someone else’s child is assalt. Spankings in schools used to work well. Two licks by an administrator resulted in imprved behavior. But, then a phone call home was usually better.
Saying that I absolutely hate to people out eating, shopping, sitting on a plane and so on with screaming children. It actually hurts my ears. When my on were young there weere many times we packed up food or left a store because mine were having a melt down. Parents need to pick good times for their children and understand not everyone loves their screaming or yelling cuties.

Breeze

September 2nd, 2009
11:52 am

@Chris I assume you do not have children.

@Michelle, you are funny. I would have been ticked too. There are parents who don’t seem to care or are oblivious to their children.

Connie Jenkins

September 2nd, 2009
11:55 am

The man is out of his mind. Everyone knows that for a 2 or 3 year old to have a screaming fit is normal. You can always spot a two year old by their behavior.
My children are all grown now but they were taught at an early age how to behave in public. They were not the center of everyone’s attention.

Bill

September 2nd, 2009
11:56 am

If people would keep their spoiled, lazy, rude kids under control and teach them respect and good manners, then things like this would not happen. Most people do not need to have kids!! I do not want to hear kids in airplanes, stores, movies, or anywhere else where inside voices and manners should be followed.

Get a Life

September 2nd, 2009
11:57 am

I applaud the man for slapping the crumbsnatcher. If his mother would have busted his butt more often he wouldn’t act that way. I slapped my son many times and to this day he knows I’ll do it again. By the way he is 21 years old. Grow up pansies. You own your child they don’t own you

MrDan

September 2nd, 2009
11:57 am

Way to go Mr. Stephens. You may have saved this child from growing up and being a whiny democrat.

Serene Lloyd

September 2nd, 2009
11:57 am

Apparently the man had issues……serious issues. This is the very reason why I am opposed to corporal punishment. I have no insight to what the person delivering the punishment may be going through on any given day. This man was apparently taking his frustrations out on an innocent child. I’m not having that. I am 45 and I grew up with corporal punishment and it ticked me off when my brother would get into trouble and get paddled by the principle. He has serious issues to this very day. I am almost certain him be disciplined by a stranger is partly responsible for his anger management issues.

GG

September 2nd, 2009
11:58 am

I would have gone to jail along with the suspect that day because if he would have slapped my child, I might would have attempted to literally almost kill the guy.

Breeze

September 2nd, 2009
12:00 pm

@what’s right for kids??? There are situations when this needs to be done. And I commend you for doing the right thing.

We were at dinner with our daughter (an infant at the time, now 3yo). I didn’t agree with it because she was colicky but we went nonetheless. And just as I thought she got really fussy. Now although we were in a private area, I was more than ready to leave and refused to walk across the restaurant with a crying baby (my first baby…still hormonal myself). So after a few eye rolls at daddy who seemed oblivious we made an early departure which I felt was necessary.

Now there are many crying babies at Wal-Mart. The parents that should be asked to leave are those of 6, 7, 8 yo’s that throw temper tantrums because they aren’t getting their way. But if it goes that far, that a parent has to be asked to leave the store, their may actually be a problem…with the parent and/or child.

GG

September 2nd, 2009
12:00 pm

Bob, your a typical red neck.

Bob...silly man

September 2nd, 2009
12:04 pm

20 bucks says the kid crying at the Walmart was a white kid.

chris watson

September 2nd, 2009
12:04 pm

I would love to have been there….I can 100% assure you he would have gone to the hospital with an extended stay before having his worthless a** hauled to jail. In most circumstances I don’t condone violence but I will say there are times when someone just needs their a** beat and nothing else will do. I certainly hope this guy does a year mandatory. Does not belong in society. But watch….probably does not have a criminal history and will plead guilty to a lesser charge and walk free with only probation and community service.

Louis

September 2nd, 2009
12:04 pm

If it were my daughter, The stranger would be in intensive care as we speak.

Breeze

September 2nd, 2009
12:06 pm

@Bob, well damn. Just throw the race card out there. Many time, the temper tantrums are thrown by the Caucasians. Go to Wal-Mart, Target, Carters, Children’s place, JCPenny, the mall, etc. Take notes buddy. You idiot…

@Bill, the child was 2. I doubt he/she was crying because their lazy. You’re an idiot too.

@Get a life & MrDan, you two are just as ignorant.

The four of you should be put to a death match. Hopefully no one would come out victorious.

chris watson

September 2nd, 2009
12:06 pm

speaking of someone needing their a** kicked get a life sounds like he might be in need of one. Probably just one of these losers that gets on sites and blogs trying to wind people up because HE needs to get a life. I will say I cannot stand to be out and having out of control kids running around crying and screaming but come on slapping a 2 year old child multiple times – that in just downright idiotic!

Mr. WhatDoIKnow

September 2nd, 2009
12:06 pm

Slapping a child that young is out of line. Mr. Stephens should have slapped the mother instead . . . After all, she is the one that should have had better control of her child.

silent jay

September 2nd, 2009
12:11 pm

Wal Mart? Stone Mountain? Slapped kid?

Gee, how could this have happened?

BR549

September 2nd, 2009
12:12 pm

I wonder if someone will slap him for crying after some other inmate has his way with him in PMITA jail?

Mom

September 2nd, 2009
12:12 pm

I can’t believe some of these comments here! Taking an innocent child who was the victim and turning that child and that mother into the REASON for the assault! Unbelievable! Even the most well-behaved children (ESPECIALLY when they’re toddlers) have occasional meltdowns. You people who are judging…you have no idea why the child was crying. You have no idea for how long the child had been crying. I have hauled my own then-2-year-old out of a store or two in my time. But sometimes, you can’t. You can’t come at any other time, and you can’t leave right then. Life happens and if you are in a public place like Wal-Mart, you can’t expect serene peace and quiet at all times, for heavens sakes! It’s Wal-Mart! And you have the ability and, by all means exercise it, to LEAVE that section. All of you making these ridiculous comments likely have never had to shop with a toddler. Not everyone HAS someone to ‘leave the kid with’. Kids are people, too. And they have rights. If this man had slapped an adult, there would be no question what he had done was wrong. (whether or not the adult was loud, obnoxious, or crying). You can’t blame all society’s ills on some people who allow their children to be rowdy. This was a TWO year old! Wake up people. This is how 2 year olds ARE. One minute they’re fine. The next minute, they’re not. The fault was the man’s, not the mom…most definitely not the baby’s.

Keith

September 2nd, 2009
12:13 pm

Thanks for slapping that kid. People control your kids. There are many kids out there that need a slapping. He did want many of us want to do.
GREAT JOB OL’ MAN!!!!!!

Meg

September 2nd, 2009
12:15 pm

I have on numberous occasions wanted to do exactly what this man did!! That being said, I have not and will not ever do such a thing. When I was a child had I behaved in such a manner noone else would have had to think about slapping me for my own mother would have already done so without a thought. Think what you will about her, I now respect the dicipline I received and thank her for it. Parents these days seem to try too hard to be their childs friend instead of being a parent first and friend later. If this mother had at least made more of an effort to get some measure of control over her childs behavior then this incident would not have happened.

Miss A

September 2nd, 2009
12:15 pm

@Bob….uh, your comment had exactly WHAT to do with the topic? Saying mexican/black families have no respect for others? The suspect in this absurb occurrence is an old, deranged, WHITE man! I tell you what…I bet the child was white because a black parent would’ve been behind bars for murder had he slapped their child.

Try not to show your racist side in future comments…

Mother of two

September 2nd, 2009
12:18 pm

Of course, you can’t hit someone elses kids. The guy should have left the store and came back later or pick another store. That Walmart is always a circus. I see lots of well behaved kids and some not so well behaved kids. People should maintain their kids to a certain level of behavior and leave if necessary. I did it with my kids even if it meant starting my shopping trip all over. Common courtesy should be taught to our kids. Of course, we need to show it ourselves and maybe we should start with our blogs.

KY

September 2nd, 2009
12:19 pm

I am not saying it was right for the man to slap the child but I am saying I understand. My son is 9 years old now. When he was younger and we would be out and he had a temper tantum, we would leave the store/restaurant, etc. Who wants to hear a screaming child? Not me, nor you. I blame the mom. What could be so important in Wal-mart that would prevent this mom from taking her screaming child outside?

April

September 2nd, 2009
12:20 pm

No way should someone slap a 2-year old child; that man deserves to be punished to the fullest extent of the law for assaulting a toddler. I know how irritating it can be to be forced to witness a screaming, crying, whining, temper-tantrum pitching child (especially when it’s someone else’s child) but the man had a choice to walk away.

Melissa

September 2nd, 2009
12:20 pm

I’m honestly more sympathetic to the guy than to the mother. She should have removed her screaming child, whether by taking her to the bathroom until she calmed down, or to the parking lot. I should not have to put up with your screaming child, just as I should not have to put up with your loud radio, or your yappy little dog. The walmart staff should have escorted her out, or at least asked her to calm down her child. The little brat deserved it.

MasterP

September 2nd, 2009
12:22 pm

The man was out of line, he did not know what the child’s problem was and he should have either spoke with the parent or used his hushpuppies and walked away. Its not his job to discipline someone else child. I do believe in corporal punishment when necessary, but all other resolutions must have been explored.

Ayana

September 2nd, 2009
12:22 pm

Children have tantrums in public….always have, always will.

KJ

September 2nd, 2009
12:23 pm

I hope right about now, he’s someone’s b**ch in Gwinnet’s PMITA jail….

Laxatl

September 2nd, 2009
12:24 pm

Hitting anyone else’s child is never ok. But sometimes I sure do want to slap the parents for refusing to control the obnoxious behavior of their children. More than once I have had to leave a restaurant because screaming kids were driving me insane.