You see a mother in a supermarket slap her child.

Vous voyez une mère dans un supermarché qui gifle son enfant.

Depending on what exactly the child was doing, I would be somewhat dismayed and look at the situation more carefully to see if the child was being mistreated. If it looked like the child was in any kind of danger, I would report it to a police officer/other official. I am an EMT, which means that I am mandated by law to report signs of child or elderly abuse. If I were on shift, I would have to fill out the forms myself.

Did the kid deserve it?


I do not mind.

I do nothing, maybe I'll think why she did that because it'll definitely have psychological repercussions.

I express distaste in a silent manner. Maybe, stop and stare.

I hate seeing things like that, I usually look away and feel awful for the child.

I may make a face but I try not to.

I tell her that's no way to treat a child

i would approach and ask whether there is a problem. if she keeps hitting the child I will call security.

I would probably laugh, unfortunately.

I would tell the mother to learn to be a better parent or I would call the police.

I would think it is a horrible thing but won't do anything unless it is very drastic.

I would wouldn't say anything, but I would feel bad for the child.

I wouldn't like it, but unless it happened more than once I probably wouldn't say anything. I would keep an eye on the child if I could.

If it looked like real abuse I'd probably tell the store manager to contact someone and might approach the woman.

If it was a real, hard slap, then I'd probably find someone to tell; otherwise, I'd just let it slip and maybe tell some friends about it later.

If she did it for good reason I won't do anything

If the child was being extremely bad, I wouldn't do anything. But if the slap was too harsh or uncalled for, I'd probably stare at the woman or make some comment so she can see the error of her ways.

Inside, I'd disapprove, but I can't believe I would criticise the mother verbally.

Pray the slap was for a very good reason.

Some physical discipline is good for the child as long as the parents do not overdo it.

This is none of my business. I wouldn't interfere.

Will do nothing. Poor mother just lost control. Children can be a handful sometimes. Slapping is not the solution though. Sorry for the child though. Hopefully, it won't happen again.

"Pauvre enfant". Peut-être l'avait-il mérité?
Ceci dit, je trouve que gifler ou taper ses enfants n'est pas une solution. Non à la violence.

ce geste n'est pas utile pour éduquer correctement les enfants. Les taper ne les aidera pas.

Comme je n'aimerais pas être à sa place!

elle a surement une bonne raison de le faire, tous les enfants ne sont pas des anges.

Elle doit avoir ses raisons, surtout que les enfants d'aujourd'hui sont pires que nous à leur âge.

En public, la gifle reste un acte violent, mais on ne peut reprocher à une mère, surtout devant son enfant, l'éducation qu'elle lui porte.

J'ai mal pour l'enfant et j'ai pitié de lui.

Je lui dis que c'est honteux de gifler son enfant dans un supermarché juste pour le rabaisser devant plein de monde.

Je lui dis que ce n'est pas la meilleure chose à faire pour qu'il comprenne ce qu'il a fait de mal.

Je ne connais pas les raisons de cette gifle donc je ne peux pas juger la mère, il peut y avoir des circonstances atténuantes.

Je ne dis rien mais je pense qu'il a du faire quelque chose de très grave

je ne fait rien mais j'observe la scène au cas ou ça dégénère

Je ne réagis pas spécialement. Si elle estime que son enfant méritait cette gifle je n'ai pas de conseil à donner à cette mère sur l'éducation de son enfant.

je passe sans se passe bien pire dans certains foyers et il vaut mieux une gifle plutôt que devenir insupportable

Je penserai qu'il y a un problème d'éducation: on ne frappe pas les enfants.

Je reste pour regarder.

Je suis choquée mais n'interviens pas dans leur histoire

l'autorité parentale est nécessaire si la gifle est méritée.

Si l'enfant fait une crise ou un caprice je peux comprendre.
Je n'aime pas trop les juger car je ne sais pas comment est l'enfant au quotidien.


J'ai été très choquée par la phrase suivante: I am an EMT, which means that I am mandated by law to report signs of child or elderly abuse. If I were on shift, I would have to fill out the forms myself.

Cela ressemble pour moi à une forme de délation qui me choque beaucoup, même si en France nous avons un numéro que l'on peut appeler si on voit un enfant maltraité.

Les réponses des français et des américains sont très différentes: beaucoup d'entre nous disent que ce n'est pas forcément très grave, alors que vous êtes nombreux à penser qu'il y a là quelque chose de très grave; cela est sans doute lié à la manière dont nous voyons le problème de la politesse; un enfant qui se fait gifler n'est pas un enfant maltraité: mes parents m'ont parfois giflée et je n'ai jamais été maltraitée, bien au contraire!!! Mais je changerai peut-être d'avis quand j'aurais des enfants!

Que veut dire EMT ? Pour vous à partir de quand peut-on parler de maltraitance ? Pour moi une gifle ne signifie pas maltraitance, même si je trouve cela très violent comme réaction et qu'il y a de bien meilleurs moyens d'éduquer un enfant !

Je suis d'accord sur la fait qu'il y a de bien meilleurs moyens d'éduquer son enfant!

Certains pays européens ont interdit la fessée, pas la France: que pensez-vous du fait d'interdire par la loi de donner une gifle ou une fessée à un enfant? Est-ce autorisé chez vous? Cela dépend-il des Etats dans lesquels vous vivez? Pensez-vous que c'est une manière rétriograde d'élever un enfant?


EMT means emergency medical technicians. 


Why did you think what an EMT has to do, is a form of "délation" ? this is a measure to make sure that this is not a case of real child abuse, and to prevent the injuries or even death of the children.

Overall, i recognized the same difference that Martine saw. Quite a number of Americans will think of something serious and will take actions i.e reporting to the store managers or the authorities. i think in America, we have witnessed way too many abuses that ended in heart-wrenching death of a child who had barely experienced life. If you just go online, google "child abuse, death", you won't be able to believe your eyes: the cases that showed up are just horrifying. Hence, i think the responses of the American students are perfectly understandable

is the rate of child abuse really low in france?

Linh, je suis bien sûr d'accord pour protéger les enfants, mais pourquoi être membre d'une association pour pouvoir appeler la police? Cela sent un peu le pétinisme (on en parle beaucoup en ce moment en France, avec mla decouverte de documents nouveaux sur Pétain). Et puis, dans ce cas, mes parent auraient dû être arrêtés plus d'une fois s'il y avait eu un membre de EMT dans les parages...

En France, on dénombre environ 100 000 enfants qui seraient en danger dont 19 000 maltraités.


I also think it depends on what culture you are from. I know for me, I was a mischievous child and recieved spankings but I don't think that harmed my childhood. I do agree that there may be better ways to educate children but sometimes that can be the fastest way. Even now my nieces and nephew recieve spankings, although it may be considered to be child abuse, thats how my family disciplines.

I agree with Ciara - it depends on the culture you grew up with. Child beating/spanking is normal approach to discipline children in my country (Ghana) so while I do feel sorry for the child, I won't interfere. However, in the US, hitting a child/spanking is not normal. So I am not surprised that some of my US collegues wrote about child abuse and reporting. I am curious to know what people actually define as child abuse? And for my french collegues, is spanking common in France?

I agree with Ciara and Evita but I also understand how an American would feel inclined to call the police or want to interfere. It is not common to see people beat their kids here, it might even be a illegal (I'm not too sure). So even though I am used to seeing people hit their kids all the time and I had the some 'love' when I was a kid (from my parents and teachers in Ghana), I would probably be alarmed to see someone do it here because i do not expect to see that here. Generally, I would still probably be more shocked than alarmed and I would not think about calling the police.

(A lot of agreeing going on here) but yes I do agree with the last three responders. From my experience, I think there is probably going to be a very good reason for that to happen. But I also think that slapping or spanking kids is an extreme measure to take in the name of discipline and I totally understand why most of the responses on the American side reflected shock and such.

In Uganda, everyone has a "right to discipline" all the kids around them (whether they are theirs, the neighbours' or a stranger's) by spnking or caining with a stick so I guess the basis of my surprise would be the fact that it is in the states where I am witnessing this.

Evita, you raise an intriguing question: how do people define child abuse? I think it varies with culture.  For instance, some people in Uganda still argue that child labour is not related to child abuse as long as the child is treated well while in other cultures, people will claim that kids are meant to be in school and not helping with bread winning. Andas indicated in this forum, in the US, spanking a kid would qualify but in Uganda, I would define it as an act that causes some sort of VISIBLE damage/harm on the child or if the child is punished for unlcear reasons.

Yoan, I am not sure if you tried to explain this but I would also like to know if this (hitting kids) is common in France?


It's interesting to see that most people (both French and American) would not do anything when they see a mother slap a child. In this case, even I would do nothing because I would have no right to interfere with the mother's and the child's business.

However, the essence of this question is not really the "slapping of the child" but the question of "WHEN" do we know if we can interfere in someone else's business. For example, what if the question asked: "You see a guy fighting with someone else on the side of the road", or "The man in front of you pulls out a gun and points it at someone else?". These situations are more extreme, but it's interesting to think about how each of us would react.

I'm sure that our first reaction would be fear, stress, and uncertainty. But once we calm ourselves, what do we do? The risks are significant--if we interfere, we could end up being the ones that get injured.

I'm asking this question because I've been in this situation. I was driving in a car with my father in India (this was only 5 months ago), and the car in front of ours stopped on the side (it was a long, dirt road but it was a busy one with lots of cars on it). Three guys got out of the car and then pulled a fourth guy out. They threw the fourth guy onto the ground and started beating him (furiously and aggressively). All the other cars on the road started honking but nobody stopped and got out of the car to help the guy who was being beaten up. There are several reasons for this: 1) We don't know who's the good guy and who's the bad guy (it could be that the three good guys are beating up the one bad guy), and 2) we are concerned for our own safety. So, we choose to ignore the situation... 

That was a really interesting situation for me. My father honked but didn't stop the car (after all, what could he do?), and we kept driving by. I felt terrible... but I'm not sure what I could have done to help the situation.

Anshul, the example you give sounds like a really tough call. If I were your dad, I wouldn't stop, whether I was in India or the US or anywhere. I would be worried about my own safety. Instead, I would call police as fast as possible. I think there are places in the US or wherever, where calling police would be of no help. It could be too late to save the victim. Besides, for whatever reasons, because of corruption or anything, the police might never get the criminals. But calling the police is still the best I could do. Since I'm not Batman in his Batmobile, I wouldn't stop my car...

I find the differentiation in response between US and French students interesting.  I am firmly against corporal punishment in any form (unless one's child happens to be a murderer...), but I wonder what explains the difference in response between us.  Perhaps Americans have a greater tendency to get involved in the business of others at all scales (foreign policy down to personal behavior) that permeates our culture, because we tend to view ourselves as dominating?

Still, parents should know better ways to communicate to their children that instilling fear in them, or an association between poor choices and corporal punishment.  Humans have thousands of years of history in civilization and childhood development research, not to mention the rise of education in communication in general, and it's a shame that the parent wouldn't be able to find a better way to discipline the child.  There is a difference between fear and understanding.  Corporal punishment accomplishes one and communication accomplishes the other. 

That said, I could see myself being an irritating parent when I grow up, as I already can tell that I will be one of those parents always telling other parents how to do their job.  I remember once maybe ten or so years ago (5th or 6th grade for me) when I saw a father verbally assaulting his children in a McDonald's, bordering on physical harassment or rough treatment.  Even as a kid, I almost spoke out until my father caught me and made me stay silent.  I'm about 8 years older than my siblings, and I even remember yelling at my father as a kid for his treatment of them sometimes.  I think when it comes to children I might just be narrow-minded about what I consider effective parenting.


lorsqu'un parent frappe un enfant en public ici, c'est pas pour faire mal mais juste pour lui faire comprendre qu'il n'a pas le droit de faire ça. L'abus commence à mon avis quand on voit la peur dans le regard de l'enfant et qu'il pleure de douleur et non pas par mécontentement.

Personnellement, je déconseille de frapper pour éduquer, je pense que c'est une mauvaise habitude. Même si les tapes sont données sans intention de faire mal, je pense qu'il y a toujours un risque de frapper par énervement. C'est à ce moment là que l'on risque de vraiment faire mal à l'enfant. Cependant, je ne considère pas une petite tape comme de l'abus et chacun éduque ses enfants comme il l'entend!

Although both French and American students did say that they would generally not do anything, I thought that French students were in general more accepting of discipline maybe because it's what they were raised with. Also, the French are more inclined to think that parents, who are of higher authority, have the right to treat their child in that manner.

Josephine, it's interesting that you think that slapping a child is a "mauvaise habitude" or bad habit. I couldn't agree more that it becomes a habit to discipline your child like that. Unfortunately, it is true that children are scarred psychologically by abusive parents and for the long term consequences it's much better to punish your child in other ways (not physically).

I think that parents who slap their child, in general have more anger/angst issues and release their anger on their child by slapping them. What do you think?

Josephine, I find it interesting that you say it's not to do bad or harm the child but simply help them understand that they are doing wrong.  I specifically think that corporal punishment doesn't instill any sort of understanding, rather it instills fear or association of violence with whatever action the child just did.  Understanding comes from communication-diplomacy rather than warfare.

Evita: I do think hitting a child is normal in America (but then again, it probably depends on the person's culture). It actually surprised me that so many Americans were quick to jump to the "child abuse" thing. I think slapping a child in the face seems unnecessary, but I don't think it causes that much more pain than a spanking.

Irina, I agree with you that not stopping the car was the right thing to do in the situation I described. But I'm not sure if calling the police would have helped either. In India, the police is corrupt as you mentioned, and they're also slow to arrive and lazy (they'd rather drink coffee or watch tv instead of come and watch/stop a fight on the street).


Aaron, your opinion that parents should know 'better ways to communicate with their child' than by instilling fear through slapping / being physical is interesting. While I agree with you that slapping might not be the right solution, I also have to agree with Josephine, who pointed out that the purpose of slapping is not always to instill fear in the child but to let the child know that he/she is doing something that he/she should not do. In that sense, it's a signal used to 'train' the child. Sometimes, parents simply PRETEND that they're going to slap the child and they lift their hands in this manner (but they don't actually slap the chlid) and the child still understands. So, I think 'slapping' is in some ways a tool that parents use to train their child. Most times, they simply 'act' like they're going to slap, but if the child still doesn't listen, they follow through with the slap.


Another interesting fact is that slapping is a UNIVERSAL behavior management / training tool for children. It's used in every country, culture, religion, etc. If it's that widespread then there MUST be something about it that works on children!! I agree that slapping a child hard is bad (as many people on US and French side said in the forum, this would make me feel really bad too if I saw this happening), I think light slapping might be ok.

But Aaron, going back to your statement that parents should use 'other' techniques to discipline... You're right that there are other options that parents have too. Slapping seems to be one of the most common ones, but other gestures can be just as effective. Here's an example:

I have a 5-year old cousin and he's a really naughty kid. My aunt (his mother) has many tools in her toolset for disciplining him. While she does have to slap him occasionally (if things get really out of hand), usually she uses a less physical but just as effective technique: She starts counting from 3 down to 1, and she has trained my cousin such that whenever she starts counting from 3 to 1, my cousin takes this really seriously and stops doing what he's doing. It's really funny to watch (why is he scared of the counting???) but it works, so my aunt is able to discipline my cousin without having to get very physical and without having to resort to slapping. I think that this is really cool, and Aaron, I think this is maybe what you meant when you mentioned "other ways to communicate" with children.

Wow... lots of interesting responses.  Jamie - I definitely think that slapping children is a form of bad habit.  I think often it shows a lack of self-control on the parent's part.  A lot of people have talked about the child in the child-slapping situation, but no one's mentioned the parent.  I think one indicator that would cause me to call the police is if the parent is out of control.  One slap, in general, I think is OK.  Many parents use this method of discipline (including mine), and this is true whether or not I personally think it's right.  However, if after that slap, the parent is threatening, extremely angry, or prepared to hit the child again, I think it's probably my responsibility to do something about it. 


My mom is always in the habit of saying something when she feels a child is being mistreated.  This does not make her popular, (and it embarassed me a lot as a kid), but she feels she does the right thing.  For example, if she sees a parent leave their infant locked in the car with the windows up, she'll stop them - what if the child suffocates?  Similarly, I remember her stopping a parent who was hitting and verbally abusing his 4-year old son when I was in preschool.  I think I remember this mostly because I was frightened, and didn't understand what was happening.  But I think she did the right thing, even at risk to herself (my mom's a tiny woman).


However, in Anshul's case, I think driving by was definitely the right thing.  But wow, what a difficult situation.


Je suis d'accord avec toi! Si un parent commence à frapper son enfant, c'est pour calmer sa colère. Certains parents pleurent le soir pour calmer leur énervement, d'autres se calment tout de suite en frappant l'enfant. C'est ce que je trouve dangereux moi, puisque personne n'a un contrôle total sur ses réactions.


Je pense que beaucoup de personnes éduquent leur enfant de la même manière que ta tante! C'est mieux que de frapper son enfant, évidemment! Cependant, pourquoi ne pas simplement mettre l'enfant au coin, par exemple? Dans ce cas là, l'enfant ne crains rien (ni d'être frappé, ni les "1, 2, 3..."!) et à le temps pour réfléchir. Qu'en pensez-vous?


Je suis d'accord, je pense que ta mère fait la bonne chose. J'ai vu énormément de reportages ou des choses affreuses se passaient et que personne ne réagissait puisqu'ils n'y faisaient simplement pas attention. Je pense qu'il faudrait plus de personnes comme ta mère pour faire attention aux autres!!!


l'incident que tu décrit est exactement ce que j'ai vécu l'autre jour!

Je partage l'opinion de Joséphine, je crois qu'il ya toujours moyen de trouver d'autres solutions que le contact physique pour faire comprendre les choses aux enfants; ici, on dit que certains parents qui frappent leurs enfants sont ceux qui ont été eux-mêmes frappés dans leur enfance: avez-vous les mêmes statistiques?


Pour Anshul;

tu dis; "She starts counting from 3 down to 1, and she has trained my cousin such that whenever she starts counting from 3 to 1, my cousin takes this really seriously and stops doing what he's doing. It's really funny to watch (why is he scared of the counting???) but it works,"


et je suis d'accord avec toi, c'est souvent utilisé par les parents ici, si cela marche c'est peut-être parce que les enfants prennent cela comme un jeu?

Je suis d'origine Calédonnienne et Guyanaise et je me rappellerais toujours de ma première fessée : j'avais traité ma mère de sorcière ! Je devais avoir 7 ans. Cela ne m'a pas plus traumatisé que ça car pour moi mes parents me punissaient ou me corrigeaient pour une bonne raison. Même si j'en ai reçu pas mal des fessées, je ne me considère pas comme une enfant mal traitée. Mes tantes, mes oncles et mes parents ont reçus la même éducation et aucun d'entre eux ou de leurs enfants ne l'a mal vécu.

En général, mes parents me disputaient quand je faisais une bêtises mais si je recommençais je recevais une tape. D'autre part, mes parents se limitaient dans leur corrections. Ils ne pouvaient nous frapper que sur les fesses ou les cuisses. Ils s'interdisaient les autres partie du corps. 

C'est pour ça que je pense qu'une petite tape de temps en temps ne fait pas de mal à un enfant quand on a épuisé les moyens plus "pacifiques", ça éviterait toute sorte de scandale en public ou de débordements. Quand il m'arrivait de regarder "Super Nanie" à la télé que je voyais des enfants se donner en spectacles devant tout le monde juste pour avoir un paquet de bonbons ou encore injurier leur mère !!!! Je me disais qu'il méritait une bonne correction. Mais je me dis que les parents aussi ont mal éduqués leurs enfants : à toujours dire oui, le jour où l'on dit non c'est la fin du monde pour l'enfant peu importe l'endroit.

Je pense qu'il faut reprendre l'enfant depuis le début et ne pas attendre qu'on en puisse plus pour le corriger et là des accidents peuvent vite arriver.