June 7, 2022

Parents Behaving Badly (Do We Say Something?)

Parents Behaving Badly (Do We Say Something?)

If we see parents behaving badly, do we say something? It’s not always clear whether– or how– to involve ourselves as bystanders. We discuss how we can discern when we need to speak up, plus how to defuse the situation rather than further inflame it.

When we see parents absolutely losing it at their children– and maybe even laying hands on them–are we obligated to act? Prevent Child Abuse America is clear that if you see something, you say something.

The harder part is knowing what it is we've seen. We don't always know whether we're witnessing a regrettable but isolated incident or something that’s part of a pattern. We want to make sure we're not making that child less safe by publicly calling the parent out. 

And knowing that actually making a phone call to enlist the police or CPS might trigger a series of events that can separate parent and child, we want to be “very confident,” as philosophy professor Kwame Appiah explains, “that such recourse is justified.” 

In this episode we discuss how we've handled these moments in our own lives– and going forward, how we'll discern when need to speak up, with the knowledge of how to defuse the situation rather than further inflame it.

If you feel a child is in real/imminent danger, please call 1-800-4-A-CHILD.

We discuss this article in this episode:

Christopher Mele for The New York Times: Should You Intervene When a Parent Harshly Disciplines a Child in Public?

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