Life Advice

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Health & Spirit

Witnesses to child's distress should intervene

By Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: I am perplexed by a situation my husband and I witnessed this afternoon in the downtown area of a large city we were visiting.

A woman waiting for a bus held a screaming child by the neck of his T-shirt as she yelled at him.

She claimed that she could not let him go or he'd run.

She had his shirt collar wrapped around her fist and his left arm wrenched within it all.

The boy was about five or six years old and was crying so loudly we could still hear him shrieking even when we were blocks away.

We were not the only ones to witness this situation. But I am ashamed to say, we did nothing to help this little guy. And neither did anyone else. I just did not know what to do. What should we have done?

 

-- Sick at Heart

Dear Sick: I have heard from many people who have said that when they were children others had witnessed their parents berating and/or physically abusing them in public, and that it broke their heart to feel so invisible to onlookers.

Yes, you should have intervened. Worst-case scenario, he wasn't her child and was being taken against his will.

On an appalling par with that awful prospect, she is his parent or guardian and treats him this way regularly.

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