A Young Mother Punched Her One-Year-Old, and What Happened Then

This is a true-life story: this actually happened. On August 3, 2011 (just yesterday!), a young mother punched her one-year-old son in the mouth, shouting (expletives deleted) at him, over and over. The young women, Ms. Erica R., was on a Boston city bus at the time. All the bus passengers were up in arms: they surrounded Erica and would not let her and her helpless son off the bus, until the police showed up. The police took charge of Erica; her young son was taken to the hospital, treated, and released into the custody of his grandparents.

Ms. R. pleaded not guilty to charges of assault and battery on a child causing injury. Ms. R. stated: "I was just trying to feed my baby on the crowded bus, then my hand slipped and I hit him in the mouth."

Uh-huh. Yeah. Right. That's not what the crowd of indignant passengers saw; that's not the way they tell it.

The district attorney asked for bail of $25,000; the judge lowered it to $500, with the proviso that Ms. R. stays away from her son. This woman could be walking the streets today, if she could find the $500. I looked for a follow-up article and could find none. I hope the outcome for the boy is that he has a safe home and is not abused, not by anyone, ever again.

The Face of Child Abuse
The Face of Child Abuse

Child abuse and child battering are unpleasant subjects. People avoid them; people avert their eyes. I am just so glad those people on the Boston bus chose to get involved. I'm glad they didn't stick to the policy of minding their own business when it came to someone else's child. The battering must have been flagrant; way over the top; not even remotely to be confused with discipline, in order for a busload of perfect strangers to stand as one and try to stop it.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, in "The Adventure of the Copper Beeches" says:

"The pressure of public opinion can do in the town what the law cannot accomplish. There is no lane so vile that the scream of a tortured child does not beget sympathy and indignation among the neighbors; a word of complaint can set the machinery of justice going..."

This story was published in 1892.

I hope that the world has not changed so much since then; I hope we have not become so jaded with violence, so indifferent to our neighbors, so apathetic in general that we, when faced with the reality of a sight or sound of a battered child, do not seek to alleviate the helpless child's condition. I hope our lanes and byways, our alleys in the ghettos, are not so vile that the scream of a tortured child begets no sympathy, no reaction from the neighbors.

In a way, the article about the woman on the Boston bus gives me hope. Those people weren't afraid to get involved. They were justly indignant. They knew right from wrong when they saw it. They were the child's advocates in a situation where the little one-year-old boy was absolutely helpless in the arms of his battering mother.

The experts' statistics are sad: it's estimated that between 25% and 50% of children experience some sort of child battering or child abuse. Those statistics are escalating during our current turbulent economies. It is another sad fact that much child battering stems from the adult caregiver taking out his/her adult frustrations on the little person, who can't fight back. Please, let's stand up for the little ones, should the need arise.

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Comments 34 comments

Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 5 years ago from Upstate New York Author

Thanks for the comment, Jackie. I really did try to follow up this story: there was nothing out there. Family court sealed the documents in the case after the sentence was passed. Which is probably, come to think of it, the right thing for them to do.

Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 5 years ago from The Beautiful South

Thank God she did hit him on the bus, otherwise at home in her rage it may never have ended until his death. I hope they checked out the grandparents too since they raised this monster. I am always disappointed to to not be able to find follow-ups. I guess news is money and old news is not.

Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 5 years ago from Upstate New York Author

Dear Q, Thank you for the comment. You are so right--no child deserves this kind of treatment. The poor kid was only 1 year old!

Dear A. Kirchner: Of course neither you nor I would want what happened to us to happen to others. That's why we both are on the internet, trying to encourage people to intervene. You are just so right--intevention is the only prevention. It's the only thing to do when an adult knows a child is being beaten.

Dear Saddlerider: I'm am sorry you were mistreated, too; I'm sorry A. Kirchner was; I'm sorry the little boy on the bus was; I'm sorry I was...what makes me even sadder is what you're telling me about "catch and release", and it seems like it happened in this instance, too...that the family court just slaps the childbeater on the wrist, saying, "Don't do that anymore!", and the poor kid is back in the dungeon with the dragon. In this instance, the child was sent to the custody of the grandparents--for how long, I don't know, nor do I know what kind of caregivers the grandparents are.

I looked again for a follow-up and again could find nothing. Society as a whole tends to sweep these stories under the rug.

akirchner profile image

akirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon

Great term Ken - Catch and Release - never thought of that but it is true!

saddlerider1 profile image

saddlerider1 5 years ago

It disgusts me to no end, to hear or read of Child Abuse, as you may be aware I am a product of such abuse, thank goodness is was not as violent physically, but the mental was just as devastating at my young age.

I witnessed many others being physically abused by their parents and of course my poor mom being beaten. I write of much of this in my poetry. I am a staunch supporter of justice to these predators of children, they need to be dealt with severely in our courts of law.

Not just slapped on the wrist and told to pretty please don't go home and do it again. However in many cases that's what is happening, it's called catch and release. How sad is that?

Thank you for exposing and sharing this great write, I hope many more come here to read it and let their hearts be opened and their minds clear on the facts that CHILD ABUSE is intolerable. Rated UP

akirchner profile image

akirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon

Oh heavens, Paradise - never would wish that kind of upbringing on anyone. I just meant that sometimes it is hardest for people to see their own flaws when they are so screwed up themselves. Intervention IS the best prevention and getting these folks help - most definitely. Sadly for some, it never happens and the children like us are left to deal with it in our own ways. I think awareness is the key - as in all things really. I also think today we have so many more avenues for help than there were when I was going through my childhood. Help for the victims and help for the persons who abuse because sadly I've noticed over the years that most people who DO abuse have some skeletons in their closets they need to get rid of~!

QudsiaP1 profile image

QudsiaP1 5 years ago

It saddens my heart when I come across these true stories of child abuse. No child deserves such treatment.

Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 5 years ago from Upstate New York Author

Thanks for the comment, Beth. Me, too!

bethperry profile image

bethperry 5 years ago from Tennesee

Great hub and I hope the message spreads.

Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 5 years ago from Upstate New York Author

Thank you, Remaniki.

remaniki profile image

remaniki 5 years ago from Chennai, India

Hi Paradise7, My heart goes out to you after hearing about your life experiences. Kudos to you too for having come to terms with life and forgiving the wrong-doers. I wish you years of happiness and peace!!

Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 5 years ago from Upstate New York Author

Dear A. Kirchner: If you've read any of my "Stories of My Life" series, you probably know--I was also a battered child. It did take me YEARS to become a fairly well-adjusted person. My life's experience afterwards was much more positive, for which I'm grateful. That is why I want others to intervene, also. That young mother needs to know that her behavior to her child is not acceptable and won't be tolerated. She also needs to know some altenative ways to handle situations with her child that get her in a temper. With my parents, it was partly ignorance, partly--they were passing down a bad upbringing. My dad was subject to battering as a child. No one intervened; he became a child batterer as an adult. I did learn some things as a child that you and I know--like how to handle extreme, ongoing fear! I learned early that life is not a box of chocolates, a bowl of roses, or a stroll on the beach. It made the rest of my life seem much easier and happier by comparison. Still, I would not wish that life situation on ANY child, and neither would you.

Phil Plasma, I agree with you on both counts--it's an awful way to behave to a child, and I am just so proud of the rest of the bus passengers for getting involved and not letting this continue.

Frank, what can I say? Child battering/abuse is terrible, heart-rending. Closing our eyes does not help the little one. Thanks for stopping by.

Green Lotus, thank you for the comment. That was exactly my point.

Remaniki: my hat is also off to A. Kirchner for coming to terms with life afterwards, in a well-adjusted way. Take it from me, I also know--in order to BE well-adjusted, one MUST forgive, and try to understand. Parenting is NOT an easy job. Every parent has moments when they are in danger of just losing it with their child. Most parents keep a grip somehow--or walk away, after providing the child with a different caregiver--the other parent, an older sibling...and most parents have limits as to how far they'll go in expressing frustration or anger with their child.

This is one instance where those limits weren't set; the parent lost it, and probably habitually loses it, and thank God there were others there to intervene.

remaniki profile image

remaniki 5 years ago from Chennai, India

@akirchner Hats off to you for coming to terms with life after what happened to you. It takes a lot of grit to FORGIVE people for doing wrong things; I too believe in forgiving, but if you can forgive after going through what you have, I have learned a lesson from you. Peace and happiness for the rest of your life!!

Green Lotus profile image

Green Lotus 5 years ago from Atlanta, GA

Thanks for making it so clear how important it is for "outsiders" to take action when abuse is demonstrated right under their noses. Fear stops most people, but luckily it was not the case in this scenario. Well done.

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 5 years ago from Shelton

My God reading this just hurts.. well done though and those pictures heart wrenching

Phil Plasma profile image

Phil Plasma 5 years ago from Montreal, Quebec

It is absolutely horrific and terrible that a mother would do this to her own child. It is fantastic and terrific that the other passengers stopped her and held her so she could face the appropriate amount of punishment or discipline.

akirchner profile image

akirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon

Having been one of those children myself growing up, it is a tough issue. I agree and disagree though that "it will be difficult for the child to be a balanced and normal person because abuse will leave a deep mark on his personality."

I am of the mind that you can overcome just about anything you understand. Understanding why people abuse is oftentimes the issue - of course as a child I didn't understand any of it. The people you trust and love should not hurt you. That said (and don't think I'm letting them off the hook) good people sometimes do bad things. Most of it has to do with their background and what happened to them or the demons they are facing.

As to the balanced and normal person - I'm 57 - and I think I'm pretty normal and balanced but indeed it did leave a deep mark on my personality. That is both good and bad. I see things that some folks might not ever see just because I have been in horrible situations. I have a great deal of empathy for the world around me - for people, for animals, for dogs in particular. I would venture to say that had I not lived through all that, I wouldn't BE who I turned out to be.

The last contribution I have on this painful subject..no one wants to see children hurt and no child wants to be hurt...and even most often, people don't want to hurt their children - they just need HELP and people intervening is the best thing. If people had intervened when I was a kid growing up - who knows what might have changed. I'd like to think my mom, my grandmother and my stepfather would have been better people or at least happier people.

The last piece of the puzzle though is that if you are the abused, you HAVE to get help. Realizing what happened and why it happened is the only thing that will save you and keep you from repeating this vicious cycle. That was my goal and I'm happy to say that healing my wounds mentally was lifesaving. While you can't forget, you can forgive and I'm here to attest to that.

Sorry about the long comment, Paradise - it is just one of the many things I'm very passionate about. Thank you for bringing this VITAL issue to light though as it is most important that people learn from the tragedies of others.

Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 5 years ago from Upstate New York Author

Thank you for that true and insightful comment, Sonia.

sonia05 profile image

sonia05 5 years ago from india

Its horrible to know that a mother is abusing her own child. A mother is glorified in a way that she can go to any extent to save her child from hurt,pain,abuse etc and not turn abuser herself! How helpless that one year old child is, I hope he is in safe hands now. Great are people who took the matter in their own hands and tried their best to safeguard the interest of the child.

Child abuse is quite common but it should be stopped and voices must be raised against it. The least we all can do is to object to it when we come across such a child and report the matter so that the child is not abused further. Its also the future of a child involved. If he or she is abused in her or his childhood, it will be difficult for her or him to be a balanced and normal person because abuse will leave a deep mark on his personality. Ruining lives of the young should be stopped!

Thank you for sharing this!

Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 5 years ago from Upstate New York Author

Thank you for that comment, remaniki. If we are not kind to our children, we are bringing unkindness into the world; misery begets misery and violence begets violence; the vicious cycle continues...I do understand you had to protect your own children, first; I wish you could have got a group of people behind you to stand up and say, "This is wrong." Those kids are still there; I feel for them in the horrors of their daily lives.

remaniki profile image

remaniki 5 years ago from Chennai, India

Hi Paradise7,

Very informative hub. This atrocity has been happening for centuries and it is a pity that not much has been done about it. I happened to see with my own eyes how 2 little children, a boy and a girl, were kicked and beaten for not doing their work (they were employed as servants) properly. I was about to call the police when my neighbors warned me of dire consequences because I had my two children at home. I despised myself for not being able to do something for those kids, but I learned that without the support of a group of people, these things cannot be handled. I was all alone in my fight against the so-called 'educated' people belonging to the higher echelons of the society. I had just then moved into a new city and did not want to put my own children into trouble. I know that I did not do the right thing then, but I was helpless.

How many such children face cruelty in the hands of their parents or others who abuse them!! I wish the world will look at this problem more seriously so that innocent little children do not become victims of child abuse.

Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 5 years ago from Upstate New York Author

Thank you, LC Green, ladyjojo, and Flora, for your comments. We're all on the same page, I think. We're all in perfect agreement. I wouldn't even give her bail at all; she scares me, too. And Lady JoJo is so right--so often women that aren't grown up enough to have babies end up being mothers, to the detriment of the child, and maybe the mother, too.

I also hope like everything that little boy is safe from his own mother.

FloraBreenRobison profile image

FloraBreenRobison 5 years ago

Thanks for sharing this story on this important topic. This woman scares me.

ladyjojo profile image

ladyjojo 5 years ago

hmmm so everybody on the bus would tell lies on her , her bail should have been $250,000.00 alot of these young women want to enjoy pleasure but have no time for baby yet they do stuff that brings baby. Then the poor children have to suffer because most times these young girls cannot even take care of themselves they are immature. I do hope the child is safe too. How could you take out your frustration on a baby????????? one year old. She should be in prison

LCGreen profile image

LCGreen 5 years ago from South Carolina

Thank you for this article!!!

Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 5 years ago from Upstate New York Author

Thanks for the comment, Onusonus. It's a true fact--a child needs a firm hand to guide him/her. The firm hand should never, never, NEVER be a FIST! And I agree with you. A teacher got in trouble for hitting a kid BACK, who struck him first. Meanwhile, stuff like this goes on...fortunately, those people on the bus chose NOT to look the other way. That's what gives me hope.

Onusonus profile image

Onusonus 5 years ago from washington

Excelent article, all too often people look the other way when the real atrocities occur. They are more focused on busting the more passive people for spanking their kid at the grocers checkout line.

Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 5 years ago from Upstate New York Author

Thank you so much, Sunnie Day and R. Talloni for your comments, and your moral support. I really appreciate it. I hope this message finds a home in all the right hearts.

RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

So glad you posted this to help other people can see that stepping up and speaking up is the right thing to do.

Sunnie Day 5 years ago

Thank goodness for the people who stood up for this child. As sad as this is to read..we must continue to sound the alarms...thank you Pardise..I hear it loud and clear my friend.


Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 5 years ago from Upstate New York Author

Thank you for the comment, ahorseback. Me, too. I feel like that. I really don't care what the woman's excuse is.

ahorseback profile image

ahorseback 5 years ago

Paradise , I swear I could become the avenger.....This makes me angry.....Its so prevalant today! ......:-(

Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 5 years ago from Upstate New York Author

Thanks, Daskittlez69, for your comment. It certainly is a shame. What was that woman thinking??? I just can't imagine doing something like that, punching a little person, someone still young enough to almost be a BABY, right in the face. I know parenting isn't easy, but STILL...!!!!

daskittlez69 profile image

daskittlez69 5 years ago from midwest

That is so sad. It is a shame that a lot of kids have to come into this world and live with imbeciles like that! Thanks for the story, I am going to look for an update. here is an up.

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