Guest Post: The Grocery Store Dilemma

By Dr. Monique Higginbotham
Dr. Higginbotham is a pediatrician specializing in child abuse

We have all had this experience. We are in a public place and a parent is disciplining their child. As the situation escalates to a fever pitch, we wonder if we should intervene or just ‘mind our own business.’ What should we say to a parent, who has clearly lost their patience with a child?

I found myself in this very situation one evening in the grocery store. While gazing in the prepared foods case, I overheard a woman yelling. I turned around to see a woman whose face was contorted in an angry scowl. She glared at her son seated in the shopping cart. He appeared to be about 2 years old, and he gazed up at her with big, questioning eyes.

Just then she started hitting him, for what rule infraction I was not sure. Pap-pap-pap-pap-pap-pap-pap! Smacking him on his arms and legs, whatever limb she could reach. It stopped me in my tracks. “Whoa – what the – hunh? Did anyone else see that?” I thought, as I looked around at other shoppers. Surely someone else shared my concern. No one appeared to notice. People looked the other way. “Perhaps I’m over-reacting,” I thought, hoping it was an isolated incident.

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