I don’t understand the mom who allowed her 5-year-old son to be paddled at school and, instead of stepping in and stopping it, videotaped it with her phone. Like, I just … I DON’T UNDERSTAND.
The backstory is this:
According to the New York Daily News, the child’s mother said he had accrued 18 absences for medical reasons, which resulted in her being jailed for truancy. Then, after her son attempted to hit a student and spit on another, the school demanded he receive corporal punishment, and if his mother refused, they threatened to suspend her son, which she claims she feared would result in another arrest for truancy.
So what’s a mom to do when her child faces physical harm? Well, sit back and pretend to text while secretly videotaping the encounter, apparently. (Warning: This is hard to watch.)
Against my better judgment, I clicked play, and what I saw immediately impacted me in the most visceral of ways. As I watched the child scream and beg not to be spanked — at one point even pleading to his mother to help him — a rage I cannot explain filled my body. Tears welled in my eyes. I wanted to jump through the screen, grab the child up in my arms, and damn near kill every adult in the room.
I try to be empathetic. In fact, I am an empath in the truest sense of the word. It’s a curse, really. I take on others’ emotions and circumstances so heavily that it often disrupts my own ability to function and be happy. But in this case, I simply cannot muster the amount of empathy I know I should have for this mother — empathy I should exhibit because I don’t know the specific circumstances or her particular situation.
But nope. All I can muster is extreme anger and disbelief, not just toward the school leadership who somehow believes hitting a child is a good way to teach a child not to hit, but perhaps most of all toward the mother for not doing a damn thing except pressing record on her smart phone and uploading the footage to social media.
This is the same anger and disbelief I harbor whenever I hear of a child being abused or killed by a mother’s spouse or boyfriend while she sits idly by or worse, participates in it. And why do I feel this way? Because if anyone — ANYONE — ever tried to harm one of my children, particularly in my presence, my primal instincts to protect my offspring would kick in so fiercely that I would see nothing but red. And I know this because simply watching the video of this little boy — a boy who is not even biologically mine — fills me with enough fury to make me want to leap to his rescue and straight up murder those attempting to harm him.
A friend once told me that unless you’ve experienced abuse yourself (or, to liken it to this incident, been in this mother’s exact situation), you cannot understand why a mother (one who, in cases of abuse, might also be abused by her partner) may not react in the same way as you might. This makes complete sense, and I agree. Until you’ve been there, it’s unfair to judge.
But here I am. Judging. Fair or not, I’m judging. And furiously judging at that. Because watching this little boy squirm, hearing this little boy beg not to be hurt, seeing these adults — people who are supposed to provide protection and guidance — inflicting pain on this tiny guy and watching the one person in this world who’s supposed to protect him at all costs — his mother for God’s sake — do NOTHING infuriates me beyond words.
On second thought, maybe I do have the empathy this situation warrants. Empathy for the only person in this whole debacle who matters: that precious little boy.