August 18, 2010 – A Southwest Airlines flight attendant took a crying 13-month-old baby away for her mother after the mother reportedly slapped the baby during her Monday flight from Dallas to Seattle.
Authorities reported the mother said she slapped the baby after the baby first kicked her.
Flight attendant Beverly McCurley reported taking the baby from her mother after seeing the child slapped in the face and hearing passengers complain.
The baby had a black eye but both parents told aviation police the black eye came from a dog bite a few days earlier. The baby’s mother said an uncle, who had medical training in the military, treated the injury.
The AP reported that the incident sparked an online debate about when onlookers should intervene in child discipline.
What do you think? Should people have intervened? Did the flight attendant overreact? Scroll down to leave your COMMENTS.
McCurley may very well be dubbed “America’s latest folk-hero” after she took the baby away from her mother, Salon reported.
However, her actions set off an intense debate: When and how should bystanders intervene?
“We live in such a ‘mind your own business’ and ‘I’ll sue you for getting involved’ society that I feel we’re afraid to stand up sometimes for the right thing,” said Jen Reynolds, 38, a stay-at-home mom to 15-year-old and 16-month-old boys in Sandwich, Ill.
“We don’t want to be yelled at or told to butt out,” she said. “The flight attendant is definitely my hero.”
The corporal punishment debate has long-been a heated one, and parents on both sides of this debate agreed that hitting a baby that young was wrong.
Christians who want to prove their point that hitting their children is acceptable behavior have long quoted the Bible: Spare the rod, spoil the child.
However, Marlene S. in Kirkland said, “I don’t get how people can even buy that in today’s world. Don’t they read? The Bible is talking about a shepherd’s rod, not something that’s supposed to be used to hit a child. Think about it – shepherds don’t hit their sheep, they use the rod to guide their sheep. So the meaning of that verse means ‘spare the guidance, spoil the child.’ I wish people would finally get it.”
Those involved in the online debate also empathized with the mother saying they’d been exactly where she found herself on Monday. Stressed, trapped on an airplane, with virtually no way to console her child.
“My biggest question is why didn’t anybody else say anything before it got to the point of the baby being slapped,” Reynolds said.
According to San Francisco attorney, Jerry Sterns, in a case such as this, federal laws give crew members broad power to ensure safety can be invoked in situations like the one on the Dallas-to-Seattle flight. But those rules do not all non-airline employees to intervene.
During a stop in Albuquerque paramedics checked out the baby before going on to Seattle. The names of the parents were withheld because they were not arrested or charged. The family boarded another flight to continue the trip.
Brad Hawkins, a spokesman for Southwest Airlines, could not provide details about flight attendant training that deals with such situations, but said they were “empowered to simply do the right thing and to maintain the security and the comfort of all of customers onboard.”
Soon after the plane landed in Albuquerque the parents, flight attendant, and a witness met with aviation police at the gate at the request of Southwest Airlines. All were interviewed about the parents aggressively disciplining their child.
Baldwin said the mother told him she “popped her when she kicked me and that was it.” She told the officer she hadn’t done anything wrong.
The mother also told Baldwin the baby was tired and crying, and “when she’s screaming and she can’t hear me say no, that’s the only way I can get her to stop.”
McCurley told the officers she saw the mother hit the baby in the face with an open hand. The baby’s father allegedly yelled at the mother to stop screaming at the girl. McCurley described the mother as “agitated with the child,” and said the woman also slapped the baby on the legs and told the child to shut up.
When McCurley walked to the rear of the plane with the baby, the baby’s father came, took the child, and stood there until she fell asleep. According to the report, the father told McCurley he and the baby’smother had argued about the mother hitting the baby.
He told police the mother would occasionally “pop” the child to stop her kicking and screaming, but that the baby had never been hit in the face.