I saw something that made me feel so helpless

It is one of the most difficult situations there can be. Whether or not to act can put a lot of people in a difficult situation.

Once, I was sitting outside the entrance to the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital eating my lunch while waiting for the next patient-transport job on my list, when I was confronted by a situation about which I was totally ill-prepared to do anything about.

A rough-looking man was walking past me shouting, very loudly, in abusive tones at his young (about 7 or 8 years old) son who was obviously petrified of his father. The poor kid was shouting back at his father that he didn’t want to go with him, keeping his distance the while. The poor boy was obviously distressed, didn’t want to “get his arse over there” and while walking in the same direction as his father, was loath to catch up with him.

The father eventually caught the young boy, wrenched his arm and told him to “bloody behave or he’d get it” or something similar.

My reaction was the same as the dozen or more people on the footpath at that time. We all looked on, knowing that something should be done, but not wanting to “interfere”.

I looked around for security, but there was no-one about. Calling ‘000’ seemed to be overkill, but surely there should be somebody we could call to protect that poor boy from his abusive father. By the time I had given the matter some thought the father, with the boy in tow, had disappeared.

I was left with a feeling of utter helplessness in the face of that situation, one which we see all too often.

As I am in my mid-70s, a physical confrontation is out of the question. Reasoning with such a man as that father would achieve absolutely nothing, as he was of such demeanour as not to listen. Anyway, he probably would have just told me to f**k off, or hit me, or both. Maybe I should have called ‘000’.

What do you think I should have done? What would you have done in that situation? Is there a child-abuse hotline to call which would result in immediate help for that poor boy?

  1. Samantha Carter  

    “Evil prevails when good people do nothing”. As humans we have the right and obligation to interfere’ when we see someone, anyone especially a child, being abused. This is not difficult ..it is essential. And you don’t know what the fathers reaction to you would be – remember bullies are the biggest cowards of all. I’m 66 years old, a mum and grandmother and a few weeks ago a drug addled young man was harassing and abusing people on my train. At the next stop I pushed him out of the door. I didn’t let fear of the unknown paralyze me. I Just Did It. Blessed be.

  2. Yes calling 000 would have been ‘overkill’ it’s only for emergencies. If you had called the Police they would do nothing unless the boy had physical marks on him. Then it takes a lot of proof.

  3. Diana  

    There was not a lot you could have done apart from confronting the father. The police would not have arrived in time to intervene and there was no security person available. I don’t know if security is allowed to intervene either.

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