Spanking in public restroom shows a parent out of control
ANNIE'S MAILBOX (syndicated column by By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar),

August 31, 2003

Dear Annie: I work at a fast-food restaurant. Recently, a woman came in dragging a small, crying boy behind her, and marched the child to the restroom. A few seconds later, we could hear the sharp sounds of a spanking on bare skin and a shrill scream.

Now, I am not one to jump to conclusions, but what am I to think? This is not the first time I have had to deal with parents taking their children into public restrooms to physically discipline them. Frankly, it appalls me, but it isn't against the law. There is, however, something I can do.

I can ask here, in a nationally syndicated column that millions read daily, for parents to please stop doing this. I was abused as a child, and being a witness to this sort of physical discipline makes me very uneasy. It also upsets everyone who is within earshot. A public restroom is not intended as a "discreet" place to punish your child. And believe me, everyone can hear.

When children misbehave in public, parents need to find other ways to set them straight. If they don't know how to do that, they should contact a counselor and discuss how to discipline their kids without hitting them.

Thank you for giving me a place to address this issue. Hopefully it will help curb this problem. - Tallahassee

Dear Tallahassee: When a child misbehaves in public, some parents become so angry or frustrated that they lash out. They think all eyes are on them and they must show they are in charge. Of course, such a reaction has the opposite effect. Bystanders sympathize with the child and deplore the adult's lack of parenting skills.

Instead, the child should be taken to a quiet place where he or she can calm down (the parents, too). The child may be hungry or tired and could use a break, but if that doesn't help, take the child home. There is no good reason to drag a crying child into a public restroom for a spanking, for heaven's sake.

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