I have worked with kids my entire adult life. I have tutored, taught, babysat, hugged, held, disciplined and just been there in one capacity or another. I have been lucky to never have had a child in my care whom I felt was being physically abused (don't get me started on lack of sleep abuse, however.)
The parents of my new two-year old class were amazed that not one of their children cried when they left them in my care for the first time. I was very firm with them at the door. I greeted their children, took them by the hand and told them to say goodbye until later to mommy or daddy. The kids did great. The moms cried. But it worked. Kids basically need to know that someone is in charge and will keep them safe. The crying comes when an adult loses that demeanor and caused the kid to worry. I try very hard to provide that balance and security for them.
So whenever I am exposed to a place where children gather and are overstimulated, I start to shudder. Take for example the hell that is Chuck E. Cheese. I cannot get over the amount of children I see being hit by a parent there. I don't know what parents expect. They take them to a large, crowded, noisy room where there are bright, flashing lights and music coming from every different machine; they feed them soda and pizza and cotton candy and then wonder why their little angel is screaming and yelling "NO" when they try to take them away from something.
A is staying with us for the weekend while her mom attends the dreaded Retreat so Hubby and I took the girls up into our neighboring state to go to the nearest Chuck E Cheese. It was so crowded that I couldn't sit at a table, so I sat on the floor by the emergency exit reading a book and watching children. There was one mom who was carrying a 9 or so month old child in her arms and chasing after a 3 year old. The baby had two large cuts over his eye and when I looked at the 3 year old, I noticed bruises all over his face. This didn't alarm me...my school kids come to school banged and scraped up all the time, heck, they go home with bangs and scrapes all the time. Kids fall. But there was something about this mom.
The older boy gravitated towards a machine I was sitting next to and it was frustrating the mom. She kept yelling at him to get away from it and do something else (It would have required her holding both him and the baby for him to do the game). This occured over and over throughout the time I was there with no real resolution. I was getting frustrated with both the mom and the boy, but I didn't want to interfere and make it worse.
But the woman crossed a line when she yelled at her son and then smacked him across the face. I rose to my feet as fast as I could and gave that mom the most intense stare I could muster. She looked at me and yelled "Don't you go judging me!" I took a deep breath and asked her if smacking him made her feel better. She grabbed him and walked away, but I could tell from her eyes that I had hit home with my comment. They left right after that, probably so she could go home and hit the boy more for embarassing her, but I had to stop her at that moment. I probably should have done more but that was a lot for me to do. I really hate interfering, but this time, I had to.
So, the lesson here is: Please don't take your child to a zoo and not expect them to become an animal. And if you choose to hit your child as a form of discipline, make sure that you are not in a primal state yourself before you do it.