Amid the rioting that broke out on Monday in Baltimore following the funeral of 25-year-old Freddie Gray— the man who died Apr. 19 from spinal injuries he suffered while in police custody — officers lauded one mother as heroic.
What did she do? After spotting a teenage boy on TV, presumed to be her son and reportedly throwing rocks at police officers Monday afternoon, she “turned up to spank him home,” in the words of one local news outlet.
“I wish I had more parents that took charge of their kids out there tonight,” Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts declared at a press conference Tuesday morning, referring to the woman whose thwacking of the teen was caught on video. “Take control of your kids,” he added. “This is our city. Let’s make a difference.”
Reaction to the footage that quickly went viral — with 93,000 views on YouTube in less than 24 hours — is full of similar cheerleading, including notes of “Bravo,” and “Kudos to this mom, nice to see a real mom taking charge of her son,” in comments online.
But among the raves are also some important questions about using violence to stop violence. “Mom of the year or this is how violence is learned?” asks one commenter. “Don’t [confuse] punching in the face and public humiliation…[with] proper discipline,” insists another.
Yet the experts who spoke with Yahoo Parenting agree that dangerous times call for drastic measures.
“While hitting and swearing at a child aren’t the preferred parenting practices, best practices don’t apply in the midst of a crisis,” Amy Morin, psychotherapist and author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, tells Yahoo Parenting. “You wouldn’t ask your child politely to step out of the way of a moving car.”
Strong communities, family therapist Paul Hokemeyer tells Yahoo Parenting, “are built on strong families.” Applauding the mom for her gumption, he adds: “We need more mothers like her — strong, fearless, and deeply committed to protecting their children. She was not about to stand by and let her son become another statistic, a victim of a system that surrogates minorities to oppression. She took the matters into her own hands, literally and figuratively.”
Yes, there is a sad irony to using physical blows to stop violence, parenting coach Sharon Silver acknowledges. But in this case she believes the end justifies the means. “We don’t have to agree with how she did it, but have to applaud the fact that she did it,” the Proactive Parenting founder tells Yahoo Parenting. “It’s a parent’s job to set the rules, enforce the rules, and help our child discover their internal pathway to a calmer more respectful state by meeting that momentum. The momentum of the moment is a force that will stop him and bring him to safety.”
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