Thursday, January 28, 2016

Child abuse or good parenting?

Two hours later and I'm still not sure that I did the right thing.

My walk to the bus stop on cold mornings takes me past three very large affordable housing projects. I know in my heart that they are full of people who are struggling to make ends meet and don't have the best lives.  I know that there are also some people who live there who aren't the finest elements in our society.  In the 11 months living here, I've seen the fights, smelled the pot smoking, and noticed the groups of men hanging out in front of the building night and day.

This morning, I was running late.  I had a meeting that ran long and got home after 11:00, so I chose to sleep in a little.  At around 8:00 I was walking quickly to the bus to see if I could still make it to the office by 9:00 a.m. (I made it in the door at exactly 9).  Passing this complex, I heard a young boy screaming at the top of his longs.  He was about 14 years old.  I noticed him as the man I presume was his father opened the car door to grab him out.  The father was clearly mad.  The screams of the son became louder as the door was opened.  The father grabbed his son roughly out of the car and dragged him, screaming, into one of the ground floor doors.  The son tried to resist and the father roughly pushed him inside.

This is the point where I am confused.  I stopped, as did many people.  Should I intervene?  Should I say something?  Should I just keep walking?  Is that boy about to get beaten up by his father?  Should I call the police?

My father loves me.  He's a great man.  Sometimes I made him so angry that he lost his temper.  He would yell, he would sometimes slam doors and stomp around the house.  Sometimes, he would grab me and yell at me and shove me into the house to yell some more.  I don't remember him ever beating me though.  I turned out ok.  I surely don't want his temper.  When I lose my temper, I try to walk away and calm down before I yell at anyone or do anything like that.  Still, I understand it.  I know that teenagers sometimes do things that make their parents super angry.  Sometimes those parents have already tried every other method of getting through to their kid other than scaring them.

I don't advocate child abuse.  I don't think it's right to beat your children up.  When a teenager, though, does something that is going to hurt them, their friends, or their family in the short or long term, they need to know it's serious.  That might mean some yelling.  It might mean scaring the shit out of the kid to get the point across that things are serious.

It's 10:00 a.m.  I'm still worried about that kid.  I don't know what happened after he went inside.  I didn't call the cops.  I didn't walk over and try to talk to the violent screaming father.  I just said a few prayers and hoped that it would be ok.  I still hope that the child's father was just trying to get a point across and let the child know that whatever he did wrong was really serious.

What's the right thing to do here?

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