My daughter-in-law described an experience that she, my son and their two boys had had on a recent train trip. A woman in the same carriage with her four children was lecturing one of them. She swore at her three year old son and told him and the rest of those in carriage with her that he was wearing his old ‘trackie pants’ (track suit) on this special occasion was because he had peed in his best pants.
Picture a four year old and a two year old who are used to a loving environment in which voices are never raised and where a firm voice and reason reigns supreme. Now picture these same children witnessing something totally foreign to their personal experience; my grandsons looked on in horror as this awful event played itself out.
They weren’t on their own. The adults witnessing this event cringed, as did the little boy at the centre of the affair. No one had the power to put a stop to the tirade. I suppose that something could have been said to the mother but she would either have responded with a ‘mind your business’ and a few choice swear words thrown in or she would have taken it out on the child, or most likely she would have done both. And of course there’s this unspoken rule of non-interference.
There’s nothing legal to be done when children are being verbally abused. No law against it as it’s a matter of interpretation; the same can be said about physical abuse at least when it comes to children. An adult can smack with impunity, using a hand, a ruler, a wooden spoon and it’s still a smack. There are some watered down laws in place but nothing too enforceable. The best the law can do (excuse the pun) is to give the offender a slap on the wrist and a lecture. It’s same unspoken rule in place, and the thought that the State would have to do something about the children. It would be seen as the State telling parents how to raise their children; I can’t see anyone putting up with them, and would lead to unwanted consequences.
This boy was three and too young to realise he was being humiliated, but there was obviously a pattern developing. He will pass on the lessons he learned at his mother’s knee to his own children and think it natural (didn’t hurt me, wont’ hurt my children). A child’s first port of call is his parents; usually it is the mother who is the primary carer in those vital first few years. If his mother shows herself to be a bully the boy will also turn out to be a bully. I wouldn’t want to be around when that child grows up.