Let’s talk: Is it ok to stop a parent disciplining their child in public?

A photo of a father dragging his daughter around a supermarket has sparked debate over whether or not it’s okay

A photo of a father dragging his daughter around a supermarket has sparked debate over whether or not it’s okay to intervene when a parent is disciplining their child in public.

The photo was uploaded to social media a few weeks ago and shows the Texan father holding his daughter’s hair against his trolley and pulling her down the aisle as she cries and begs him to let go.

The photo was taken by another shopper who said she confronted the dad, but was told to butt out.

She later uploaded the picture she took to her Facebook page and alerted police, who said they couldn’t investigate if the child did not have any injuries.

The Texan father and daughter who sparked the debate. Image: Youtube
The Texan father and daughter who sparked the debate. Image: Youtube

The incident has led others to questions whether or not it is ok to step in when another parent in disciplining their child if you don’t agree with their methods.

While it would be understandable for someone to intervene if a child was being forcibly punished and hurt in public, where do you draw the line?

While some parents smack their children at home and in public, others are against the practice and say they are tempted to scold other mums and dads when they see it happening.

The same goes for yelling at children in public or dragging them along by the arm. Is it ever ok to step in?

What are your thoughts?

Would you intervene if you didn’t agree with how a parent was disciplining their child? Or is it none of your business?

  1. Chris  

    Unless the parent is actually causing some sort of bodily harm, then its best to stay out of it………..

  2. I saw a man in a supermarket yelling and shaking his young kindy aged kids. They were dirty, skinny and looked terrified.
    I didn’t speak. I stared deliberately at him until he noticed me and he yelled “What are you looking at?”
    I said. “I give up. What AM I looking at? Some kind of animal”
    He made a move at me, but I didn’t move. I deliberately glanced at the store camera.
    He grabbed the trolley and rushed off.

  3. Bruce Taylor  

    Half the problem with society today is caused by the fact that our children lack discipline. There is nothing wrong with smacking a child on the backside or anything else as long as there is no physical injury. In fact I am glad that when I was young this was not only permitted but expected.
    Teachers were also permitted to administer mild corporal punishment and a policeman who caught you doing something a bit out of place was expected to give you a clip behind the ear and send you home.
    My personal opinion is that I am a better person because of that and that the lack of it now is the reason that so many of our young people have no respect for others, the law or themselves.

    • Christine Phillips  

      Spot on Bruce. Bearing in mind that there is still parents who actually beat their children, they are too smart to ever do it in public. Those who discipline children in public do so because the child is behaving badly.

      • Bruce not only was it accepted from your parents, but if you were at a friend’s home and had the temerity yo misbehave, then they could chastise you too….in loco parentis. Nobody complained!

    • I totally agree! Children these days are lacking in good manners and respect for adults. I had an incident just recently where a child interrupted my conversation with her mother, the ask ME to hold on a moment while she listened to the child!! The Child should have been told it was rude to interrupt unless it was urgent.

    • Lyn  

      Well said Bruce, thank you and I certainly agree with you. My 4 children all got smacks when they stepped out of line. It never ‘damaged’ them. All four of them are gainfully employed, always complimented on their personal and work ethic’s.
      That is what I find amazing and I am very proud of all of them. My grandchildren have been brought up the same way and my Grandson (15 years old) has just been awarded the ‘Humanitian Award’ for his care, thoughtfulness and compassion for others at his school.
      WHO wouldnt be proud of this disiplined young man.

  4. Janet Meisel  

    There is a fine line between discipline and abuse. Make sure you understand the difference, legally, as a parent and as a reporter. There are actual guidelines for mandatory reporting, ie those followed by caregivers and educators, which can be accessed. Unless you are clear it can be a minefield to directly approach someone and make accusations of abuse and suggesting they need to stop, which is what you are basically doing. Arm yourself with the facts first then you are prepared.

  5. Lyn Hill  

    A smack, which doesn’t cause any injury, for bad behaviour is fine, dragging a child along by the hair is not. I always think if they go so far in public what do they do in private. The statistics of abused children are horrendous.

  6. Maurnie  

    Big difference between a smack than a hiding which in my book is repetitive smacking.
    If parents reacted earlier to to an episode of bad behaviour they would,t lose their cool and react in a more rational manner.MAURNIE

  7. James  

    A smack on the bottom to make a point to a child is sometimes necessary. We are far too soft on discipline with children.

  8. Pamela  

    If you don’t discipline children, don’t whinge when you suffer the consequences!

  9. Marie  

    Children need, & must have discipline, no matter where they are.

    BUT, there’s a fine line between ‘discipline’, & ‘cruelty’.

    Many problems’ of wayward people today is that they weren’t disciplined as children.
    Off on a side tangent here, the stopping of Conscription by Whitlam, was one of the worst moves ever.
    ANY person who’s served in our Armed Forces has discipline.
    They also happen to be well-mannered, clean & tidy in themselves, & their clothing.

    As for intervening?
    NO, definitely not! Best to call Police, & let them deal with it.

    • [email protected]  

      Marie, I largely agree but would support a choice (for both genders) between community and military service. I’ve seen some people twisted, traumatised and unnecessarily hardened by their time spent in military service.

  10. Mack Carson  

    Any child that is brought up “Properly” with necessary discipline when needed,
    to show there’s consequences for your actions. AND words.

    Would NEVER need chastisement outside.
    I brought up 3 NEVER hit them, apart from cracking the back of their hands when necessary.

    They never, ever, acted up outside or misbehaved when visitors here.
    Just normal decent kids. AS MOST ARE.

    the ones that play up. yell. scream. pull tantrums.
    are the ones that haven’t had necessary discipline (not necessarily physical)
    while growing up as to KNOW the difference between right and wrong. as far as behaviour

    PRIMARILY the parents fault. THEY probably weren’t properly. Sensibly disciplined either.

    I always found that DEPRIVATION…. was better remedy.
    You CAN’T have. You WILL.or WON”T. DO or go. You WON’T or WILL wear this when I say.

    There’s always something they want. don’t want. To have. Go to, or do.
    Give them the opposite. and let them know why.

    ANY child with a brain will think.
    OOPS. Maybe I’m doing this the wrong way.
    Then lo and behold.
    USUALLY…. they grow up.

    If they don’t.
    Best remedy is to flush it down the Dunny and start again hey…. Chuckle.
    (That’s a man talking.)

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