By Laura Kowalske, Director of Prevention Education
Many of us have had that awkward moment . . . we’re in a public place and we hear a child crying. We peek over and see an out of control adult mistreating a child. And we think, “What should I do?”
Prevent Child Abuse America recommends the following:
Start a conversation with the adult to direct attention away from the child.
- “My child sometimes gets upset like that, too.”
- “Children can really wear you out sometimes. Is there anything I can do to help?”
Divert the child’s attention (if misbehaving) by talking to the child.
- “That’s a great baseball cap. Are you a Cardinals fan?”
- “I like your t-shirt. Did you get that on vacation?”
Look for an opportunity to praise the parent or child.
- “He has the most beautiful eyes.”
- “That’s a very pretty shirt on your little girl. Where did you get it?”
If the child is in danger, offer assistance.
- If the child is left unattended in a grocery cart, stand near the child until the parent returns.
- If the child is in immediate danger, call the police!
Avoid negative remarks or looks.
Negative reactions are likely to increase the parent’s stress or anger, and could make matters worse for the child.
If you suspect a child is being abused or neglected in Illinois, call 1-800-25ABUSE (1-800-252-2873)
Adapted from Prevent Child Abuse America www.preventchildabuseillinois.org