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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.
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.
- Prevent Child Abuse America
Prevent Child Abuse America was established in 1972 to build a nationwide commitment to preventing all forms of child abuse.