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Speak Up to Protect Children From Abuse

January 19, 2003

Today as I was shopping at Target with my 16-year-old daughter, I passed a mother with a child who appeared to be about 5 years old. They caught my eye as the mother pulled the little girl hard by her pigtail and the little girl cried as she was dragged along on her tiptoes, being reprimanded for something.

Split seconds passed as in my mind a similar scene flashed of shopping during the past holiday season in a busy upscale Restoration Hardware in Newport Beach. A mother cruelly yanked her son by the arm and verbally abused him, again while busy shoppers stood by minding their own business. I too turned a blind eye.

This time, however, I found myself impulsively breaking free from the isolation of my own business and sharply telling the mother in Target that she was hurting the little girl. She denied it and told me that she was her mother and to mind my own business. I told her that I was a concerned citizen and didn't want the girl to get hurt.

I left the scene, feeling angry, but soon felt anguish, worrying about children generally, remembering the news I heard today about the three children found in New Jersey.

We must not mind our own business. We must speak up and protect the young when we see what we know is dangerous and wrong. Parents can learn good parenting skills. I used to spank my children when I was a new mom, but I learned from a friend that there are other methods of modifying their behavior.

Victoria Reiser

School nurse, Santa Ana

Unified School District

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