Wednesday, September 2, 2009

61 year old man slaps a toddler for crying

Yeah, I wish I was making this up:

STONE MOUNTAIN, Ga. – Police say a 61-year-old man annoyed with a crying 2-year-old girl at a Walmart slapped the child several times after warning the toddler's mother to keep her quiet.

A police report says after the stranger hit the girl at least four times, he said: "See, I told you I would shut her up."

Roger Stephens of Stone Mountain is charged with felony cruelty to children. It was unclear if he had an attorney and a telephone call to his home Wednesday was unanswered.

Authorities say the girl and her mother were shopping Monday when the toddler began crying. The police report says Stephens approached the mother and said, "If you don't shut that baby up, I will shut her up for you."

Authorities say after Stephens slapped the girl, she began screaming. [reproduced in full]

Look, I work retail. Which means I'm exposed to hundreds of screaming children every day (don't even get me started on what goes on during the holidays). I hear all sorts of cries, from babies squalling, to bratty children incensed because their parents had the audacity to deny them a toy or piece of candy. I get to the point where when I hear a child screaming, I head for some other part of the store just to get away from the noise for a minute.

But seriously, this man had no right to touch another person's child. No amount of irritation gives him the right to assault a child. His actions have no merit--I don't care what that child was crying about, I don't care how awful the mother seems to be (personally, I think ignoring the crying is best, seeing as most of the time the child is using that to get a reaction--any reaction--and for the parent to respond in a manner that will silence the child (even if that means giving it what it wants) accomplishes nothing except that the child will continue to act out)). It's not up to this man to parent someone else's kid, and he had no business laying a hand to the child, especially not repeatedly.


Intransigentia said...

What do you want to bet that if he gets a vicious lawyer and the mom is some combination of young, unmarried, poor, and/or brown, the asshole walks.

On the other hand, if he's the kind of person who feels entitled to enact violence (under the guise of discipline) on someone else's kid (not that it being your own kid entitles you to do violence to them), I wonder what may come out about how he's behaved towards less-powerful people where social concensus might exist that he has some degree of legitimate authority over them, like his own kids or grandkids, spouse, etc.

macon d said...

Yeah, it's pretty obvious that he was way out of line.

I wonder what he was charged with? That looks like a mugshot. (And a priceless one at that -- the epitome of a grouchy old man.)

Anonymous said...

I wish I had been there, I would have beat that guys ass all over that store

FilthyGrandeur said...

i can't even imagine how the mother must have reacted. someone ever attempts to hurt my child, you can bet they'd be limping out of that store...

Renee said...

After I posted this on my blog, where I focused on the fact that the same people that were upset because it was a stranger, would have turned a blind eye to a parent, the unhusband pointed out the gendered nature of this assault. This happened to a mother and a little girl, what are the chances that he would not have become violent if the parent had been male? Men often feel that they are entitled to act violent with women and girls due to patriarchal privilege. Would he even have seen a male child crying as annoying? Just some questions that lead to some really interesting conversation in my home.

FilthyGrandeur said...

wow, i hadn't even thought of that, Renee, but yeah, i can totally see that. this may have been a different situation entirely if it were a father and son instead.

semi-related: when i'm at work i have male vendors talk down to me and get rude and loud with me in a way that they do not with my male co-workers, despite that it's my section of the store that their products are going in. it's very frustrating.

Maud said...

Excellent point, Renee. This guy might have been equally annoyed by a crying boy - or even more so, since boys "aren't supposed to cry", but I'll bet he would have been much less likely to intrude on another man's control of his children.

This really is creepy beyond belief. If this guy feels justified in repeatedly striking an unknown child in the presence of her mother in a public place, I can't bear to think about what he felt entitled to do to any children of his own in private.

I haven't struck anyone since I was eleven and punched a neighborhood 16-year-old because he was (literally) pushing my older sister around. But Mr. Cranky should be thanking his lucky stars he didn't try that with any child in my charge.