A friend of ours hit our child - what should we do?

Reply Sun 10 Jul, 2011 06:00 pm
My husband, our kids, and myself were spending a day out by the oceanside with another couple and their kids, our long-time friends. At some point we came across a huge fallen tree, and our friend L. climbed on it and started walking up. Our 11 year-old son followed him, but L. suddenly realized they won't be able to get down that easily. He turned back and asked our son to get away and down to give him room to get down, too. Our son stopped but didn't get out of his way at once. He was having fun, and we had to tell him 2 more times, and then he obeyed. After that L. got back down, and he suddenly grabbed our son from behind and threw him on the ground with all his might, yelling at him. We were stupefied. A 215lbs 38 year old man could have easily injured him. Fortunately he got up unscathed albeit very frightened. We are in deep shock, we never hit our children. Does anybody know if there are legal ways to teach the man a lesson - but not monetary? Is there any point in filing a police report? Thank you!
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Type: Question • Score: 27 • Views: 23,091 • Replies: 326

View best answer, chosen by odessitka
Reply Sun 10 Jul, 2011 06:07 pm
Personally, if someone is my friend, I am going to deal with the situation on a person to person level. Why can't you make it sure that you were really upset and that you don't want them hitting your kids ever again.

Legally, there are two remedies. There is monetary damages, and there is jail time. I suppose you could add probation (but that is just a replacement for jail time). If you go the legal route, that pretty much ends the friendship no matter what happens. If I was angry enough to start down this path I wouldn't worry about where it ended up.

I would probably express my feelings on the situation and make it clear that it was not to happen again.

Reply Sun 10 Jul, 2011 06:21 pm
@ maxdancona,
Thank you very much for the reply. I'm afraid the friendship is at an end anyway - my husband told me he doesn't want him near our kids ever again. What if our younger daughters are in his way next time - he'll go ahead and hit them, too? I personally can't imagine myself having anything in common with a person who hit my child. He didn't even say he's sorry, he was yelling at me and my husband that he didn't do anything wrong. His wife e-mailed with apologies later in the day, but not him, he won't apologize. I would like him to be punished, but I don't want him to pay fines or anything - that's too easy. If there was community work available or something like that for such cases, it would be great.
Reply Sun 10 Jul, 2011 06:24 pm
1) I don't see how throwing your son to the ground and yelling at him constitutes hitting. At what point did he hit your son?

2) I would start by assuming that your friend made a mistake, and by explaining to him why his behavior is unacceptable to you. Maybe he doesn't have children of his own. Maybe he comes from a family where hitting a child was acceptable. Maybe he was acutely upset by something your son did, and that you missed. Whatever the problem, the way to approach this between friends is to hold off the lawyers and talk. If he repeats the offense after you've talked, then I'd start thinking about legal consequences.
Reply Sun 10 Jul, 2011 06:35 pm
You don't see how grabbing a child from behind and throwing him to the ground constitutes hitting? So how, in your opinion, it should be called?
The man has two kids of his own and actually cannot tolerate when someone even raises their voice at them, let alone touch. His kids are rather spoiled. I also don't see how his personal issues are an excuse for what he did. And I didn't miss anything, I was there all the time. But thank you anyway for the reply.
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Reply Sun 10 Jul, 2011 06:50 pm
You don't beat your children??? You like having them demand it and not get it, I suppose... I may be wrong in this... I have never found children to be too reasonable... And we are not living in a time when enemies all around would teach children to be reasonable without a threat being uttered... But life being what it is, I think it entirely sensible at some point, and the younger the better, to throw the fear of death and destruction into the consciousness of your children, and best before they learn to threaten you with 911... As soon as a kid learns the power of law they become terrible tyrants... Ask then to clean their rooms and they can pick up the phone... Even if you know the case won't go to court, the thought of a cop car sitting in your drive While your honor is pissed away by some one with no notion of the concept will make you cringe.. The law takes our authority and leaves us with damned little influence which only the best of parents can use to the advantage of their children... God bless them if they can... If they cannot it is best for a child to learn there are some people who will not be messed with, if only to save their disrespectful asses... Your friend did you a favor...
Reply Sun 10 Jul, 2011 06:53 pm
No, throwing a child to the ground and yelling to it doesn't constitute hitting. But it may constitute assault, depending on your jurisdiction and on how severe it was. (I am not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice.)

That aside, I still advise talking after the emotions calmed off a bit.
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Reply Sun 10 Jul, 2011 07:01 pm
Odessitka, you're new here, so I'd like to point out that Fido is to Able2Know what village idiots are to villages. I suggest you ignore him.
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Reply Sun 10 Jul, 2011 07:18 pm
Your son was assaulted. That is what the behaviour of your ex-friend would be named legally.

He didn't hurt your child physically, so it was the lesser form of assault (assault causing physical harm is seen as more serious.)

You certainly could file a police report....I don't know the law where you are, here, it is quite likely that police would go around and question the man, making it clear that (if your description is accurate) he had committed an offence, but you could decide against filing charges.

Again, depending on where you live, you could likely notyify child protection authorities. here, being extra-familial, and given that you have already decided not to expose your child to hm again, they would simply hand it to police.

If you release a legal genie from the bottle, though, you lose control of what the genie does.

For instance, you and your son would need to make a formal statement. It might be that police act even if you don't want them to. It might go to court.

I'd personally not choose to do it tthat way...though you could certainly chat to local police without naming names and see if there is such a thing as a stern chat, or a formal caution to be had in your area.

I'd hope that a stern talk from you and the loss of the friendship would be a big message to him.

However, my concern would be how he treats his own kids.

That was one hell of an over-reaction. If you have evidence that he assaults his own kids, I'd be considering a chold protection notification.

is your kid ok? That would have been scary. Is he having nightmares or anything?

I'd also be having a chat with him about his behaviour. It didn't warrant such a reaction, but he was thoughtless.

If it was really unusual behaviour from your friend, I am a bit worried about him, too, frankly.
Reply Sun 10 Jul, 2011 07:46 pm
Odessitka, you're new here, so I'd like to point out that Thomas lives to split hairs and find some obscure argument against common sense.

I know what you mean by calling that hitting, even though some need to call it pushing to the ground in a manner that could have caused harm.

Like has been said, I personally wouldn't file a report, and would just write off this person as a friend.
Reply Sun 10 Jul, 2011 08:12 pm
Thanks! His post gave me a good laugh, though! He obviously shouldn't be taken seriously!
Reply Sun 10 Jul, 2011 08:15 pm
Thanks for the advice, I appreciate it!
Reply Sun 10 Jul, 2011 08:22 pm
And just so the introductions are complete: Dlowan, unlike Fido, Chai2, and myself, is definitely to be taken seriously. You better listen to her!
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Reply Sun 10 Jul, 2011 08:26 pm
Just an aside, not advice.
What occurred to your child & the impact this has had on all concerned reminds me so much of an excellent novel I read about a very similar subject, (The Slap).
Fascinating reading. An event like this can have a huge impact on many people.

At a suburban barbecue, a man slaps a child who is not his own.
This event has a shocking ricochet effect on a group of people, mostly friends, who are directly or indirectly influenced by the event. ...<cont>

Reply Sun 10 Jul, 2011 08:35 pm
Thank you very much for so detailed reply and advice. My son is okay, he's a tough kid, he's a hockey player! :-) He was just totally scared, he didn't expect anything like that! Neither did my husband and I, this couple has been among our best friends for years, and we have always been very kind to them. Our 8-year-old daughters are friends from birth. That came as a complete shock.
The man in question occasionally spanks and shakes his own kids, but we never looked at him as a violent person. We certainly did talk to our son about his behavior and explained to him that if he listened to the man and did what he asked right away, nothing would have happened. He perfectly knows it, and he generally is a well-behaved child, but you know boys, they like climbing on things, and he got carried away. He didn't really do anything, he was just staying on the spot - it's not like he didn't listen to anybody and followed the man up the tree, making him even more scared. No, he stopped right away when he told him to, he just didn't want to get off that fast.
Reply Sun 10 Jul, 2011 08:40 pm
Thanks for the book suggestion! I've already put it on hold at my local library :-)
Reply Sun 10 Jul, 2011 08:42 pm
You, in particular, odessitka, will find it a riveting, & sometimes quite a discomforting read. No stone left unturned!
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Reply Sun 10 Jul, 2011 08:50 pm
You wanting to jam up a guy with the state, a guy you called a friend, over THAT? Hopefully word gets around that this is how you treat people, and you get shunned. Your kid was not minding, and if my guess is right you have a habit of not dealing with your wayward children, and this time it was enough to provoke this guy. I would expect his explanation to be that your kid was causing a dangerous situation, and in the interest of trying to make sure that your brat of a child learned his lesson he went too far.......but given that is motives were pure the state should not cause him problems.
Reply Sun 10 Jul, 2011 08:53 pm
One really good laugh every day, and you'll live until 100. Thank you for your hilarious post. I'm a very strict mother, my kids are very well-behaved, they would never even think about calling 911 and report their parents. They help us, and respect us and other adults. We are happy to have such kids. If all the kids you've met in your life were "disrespectful asses", I'm very sorry for you. I really am.
cicerone imposter
Reply Sun 10 Jul, 2011 09:02 pm
Confront them immediately, and tell them never to hit their child again, but to let you know when the child misbehaves.

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