You see a mother in a supermarket slap her child.

Vous voyez une mère dans un supermarché donner une gifle à son enfant.

do nothing, it is her right to deal with her child as she sees fit
Feel bad for the child and the mother.
I ignore it.
I leave it up to her.
I pretend I didn't see anything
I wonder if I'm hallucinating.
I would feel sorry for the child, probably try to smile at it, but I probably wouldn't say anything to the woman. I might pointedly look at her though.
I would feel very uneasy, but would probably not say anything.
I would not get involved; I don't know the family well enough to intervene.
I would observe the situation more closely as I walk along.
I would tell the person at the customer service desk, or then call the police.
I would think she was a bad parent.
I would walk in the other direction.
If it was really violent I make a comment, otherwise I only disapprove with an unfriendly look
ignore and/or ask her to stop and/or call the police and feel sad
it's an abuse! feel like talking with the mother who slaps.
walk past and utter, "who would do that," or "BOOO"

"J'espère qu'elle avait une bonne raison de le gifler !"
Ca ne me regarde pas.
ce n'est pas à moi de juger
cela me regarde pas il l'a peut etre mérité
il l'a peut être mérité !
il l'a sans doute mérité, ce n'est pas à moi de juger.
je dit rien elle a sens doute ses raisons
je la laisse faire ça la regarde, un peu d'autorité est nécessaire
je la laisse faire, il devait l avoir mérité, chacun choisit l éducation qu il donne a son enfant: j en ai reçu plein ainsi que des coups de cravaches
je me dis que ce n'est vraiment pas la solution pour se faire respecter.
je n'interviens pas la première fois.
je passe mon chemin, sans avoir aucun a priori de jugement envers la mère ou l'enfant
Je plains l'enfant.
je reste inactif
ça ne me dérange pas mais cela attire mon attention


When is the time to speak up?

Looking into the reactions of students from the US and from France, the sense of 'this is none of my business' goes really
strong. Many of the students would react with ignoring the situation, pretending that we didn't see the mother slapping the child,
or feeling uneasy for the child but wouldn't say anything. I am, therefore, wondering if this is a realistic reflection of how
children are treated in the two countries. Is it true that we, as students, agree that the mother should have the ultimate right to
decide what to do with her children?

Different Types of Punishment

I noticed one really big difference between the French and the American reactions on this situation was the difference in
reactions to the slap as a form of punishment. Most of the Americans thought that a mother slapping a child was a bad thing,
they felt bad for the child and one person even thought that the mother was a bad parent for doing it. On the other hand, many
of the French responses were that the child must have deserved the punishment and that mother had good reason to slap her
child. I think this shows a fundamental difference in the way that the French and the Americans punish their children. In
America, physical punishment of a child is frowned upon and not used very often. Most of the time, when I child does
something wrong, their parents will "ground" them (meaning that they will take away certain privileges like watching TV, the
telephone, or the computer). This is a non-violent alternative to physical punishment of the child. Personally, I come from a
Chinese family where spanking a child or hitting him/her is considered a valid and necessary form of punishing a child. I was
wondering, is this the case in France as well? How acceptable is it to punish a child by physical means? Do the French also
have a system that is similar to the American "grounding" system?

Could it really happen?

I'm not American but my feeling is that here very few mothers would slap their child in public since they know that a lot of
people would look at her disapproving and some would even make comments. People in general are quite sensitive to any
form of domestic violence. Then my question is, could this kind of situation actually happen in a public spot in France?

La gifle qui laisse des traces

Pour répondre à Susanna je pense que c'est aux parents de choisir l'éducation qu'il donne à leurs enfants. Si la maman a
donner une gifle a son enfant c'est quel avait de bonne raison. Aujourd'hui en France il est vrai qu'il est mal vu de donner des
gifles aux enfants. Sauf que certain des enfants mériteraient des gifles car ils sont très insolent, capricieux et les enfants gâter ne
son pas bien préparer pour l’avenir je trouve. Et je pense que tout céder a un enfant n'est pas la meilleur façon de l'élever.
Mais je voudrais savoir comment c'est perçue chez vous de donner des gifles a ses ou son enfants?

Les reactions des gens

Il est vrai que de temps en temps les gens dans la rue ou dans le métro font des commentaires (soit a la mère soit a son voisin
ou amis) sur le fait de donner une gifle a son enfants. La maman dans ces cas là peux être gêner mais la plus part du temps elle
fait pas attention au commentaire des autres. Mais à l’inverse il arrive que les gens fassent le commentaire inverse car il estime
qu'un enfant devrait recevoir une gifle.

slapping in public

Let's assume that physical punishment of children is more accepted in France, which by the nature of your responses, seems to
be the case. So in America, one rarely sees this situation occur. It happens, but not so often. That being said, when a mother
slaps her child in public, I often wonder how she treats her child in private. She must be aware that everyone sees her doing it,
so I cannot help but think that she is one who may use physical punishment a little too often, to the point where she has lost
interest in whether people may look upon her as an overly abusive parent. This is what I believe is the case in the United
States, at least. While plenty of parents may hit their kids in private, usually the ones who hit their kids too often are the same
ones who do it in public. I know that I didn't explain that very well. Sorry.


I totally believe that hitting kids are an effective form of punishment. (Note: I mean one or two slaps, not physical abuse). I
think when kids are young they will quicker refrain from doing something because they don't want to get slapped, than they
would because their parent talks to them about. As Howard pointed, kids under 10, especially those under 5, do not relate to
logical reason very well.


It's the same way our laws work. It would be great if always obeyed the laws because we want what's best for society. But,
many times the fear of getting caught and being punished is what keeps us breaking the law. Slaps for children are the same as
jail for adults, while not everyone needs them, they are effective deterrents which prevent us from doing wrong.

Child Abuse

From many of the previous responses to this topic, it seems that most viewers in France would just shrug and think there must
be a good reason why the mother is slapping her child. In the US, it seems that many people would be upset and somehow or
other try to stop the mother. I credit this phenomenon to the strict child abuse laws in the US. Since the French reaction is
different than the American reaction, I was wondering if this reflects the child abuse laws in France. Is there a correlation
between a show of punishment with a physical reaction and child abuse laws? Or is it simply that there is less of a stigma in
France to correct your child's behavior in a semi-violent way and, thus, mothers wouldn't fear humiliation as much? And,
although this is a bit off topic, how much power do children, adolescents and teenagers have in France?

Moral Opposition to Hitting

I'm not so sure about the statement that the taboo on hitting children is an effect of the strict child abuse laws in the US. I
would have thought that it would have been the opposite, that the laws came about because people wanted to move away
from physical punishment. I think there is a moral argument against slapping or spanking and that the laws only serve to put this
system into official terms. I don't think that somewhere where slapping was acceptable would implement such laws to prevent
it. All of this considered, I wonder what caused hitting a child to become so socially unacceptable. I understand that violence
should not be encouraged, but if spanking is effective and helps a child to learn right from wrong, why is American society so
opposed to it?

Public vs. Private

I agree with Nicholas, in that I think part of the reason why the American response was so different from the French one is that
this scene happened in so public a place. My parents had all the usual non-physical means of punishment, like time-outs or
restrictions on watching TV or going to a friend's house. But if I did something really bad, I got a spanking, and I don't think
I'm any worse off for being brought up that way. But if something like that had ever happened in a public place, I feel the
consequences would be more far-reaching. I would think it strange to see a mother slap her child in the supermarket, because
it would seem out of place. I also think the word 'slap' has a really different connotation to it than we'd usually use to describe
physical discipline of children. Slapping is more associated with domestic violence and comes across as more personal and
more hostile than something like spanking does.

HItting in Private

I'm not so sure that nowadays hitting is still so allowed. I grew up in China were spanking was much more commonplace than
in the States and I never got anything close to it. I think that perhaps there is a fear in the States of child abuse. Or perhaps I
was simply raised differently from others.


I'm not exactly certain if I have my facts straight, but from what I remember from a US history course in eleventh grade...
Apparently, a few decades ago, parents had a lot of power over their children. If a child was stubborn, if the parents didn't like
it, they had the option of sending their children to something like boot camp. Not quite boot camp, but something usually not
sanitary, not clean, very strict, very harsh, etc. If the 'officers' find you doing something they don't like, they beat you, they
starve you, etc. After a while, various groups began calling for reform and the law became more...fair to minors. At least, this is
what my 11th grade US history professor instilled in me. Now a mother slapping her child in public seems very odd to me. I
agree with Meg that, should a mother slap her child in private, I'd probably find it more normal. I speculate that, should a
mother slap her child in public, she must be able to overcome public humiliation that comes with such an act. Or, based on the
reactions on the French side, such an act in France may not be viewed so negatively. I think that part of the reason it's such a
taboo here in the US comes from the strict Child Abuse laws and possibly from the history in which many children were
abused and basically ignored (now this part I got from some special TV program dealing with US history). Thus, I wonder if
the French had laws as strict on child abuse. Or perhaps the French did not undergo the same kind of social reform periods as
the US? Or perhaps not to the same extent?